Frederik Köster/Sebastian Sternal – Canada
Both pianist Sebastian Sternal and flugelhornist Frederik Köster belong to the acclaimed and accomplished German jazz musicians who have received several awards in the past. They’ve been playing together in various groups since about 10 years.
For their latest duo album, they went to Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. And so, their compositions seem to reflect the vast, open country there, with sudden breaks and joyful outbursts like on the opening title track. “Calgary”, a track that was written by Sebastian for his latest project with his Symphonic Society, the first of which received an Echo Jazz Award in 2013, continues the thrilling journey. The poetic beginning of Frederik’s flugelhorn is later underlined by a slightly bulky piano accompaniment and ends very lyrical.
Most of the tracks on the album stay in a relatively tranquil and meditative mood; even those pieces which seem to be somewhat vigorous, like the free-flowing beauty of “Hologram”, maintain an inner peace and calmness that might be attributed to the influence and atmosphere of the landscape both musicians found themselves in during the recording process. Their dialogue on Frederik’s “Lullaby” shows a lot of confidence and tenacity. As does “Prayer”. Some of the pieces here have some traces of chamber-music stylistics. It’s a fascinating listening experience for a great portion of the 44 minutes.
Two tracks on the album are by Canadian masters: “For Jan” was written by the late great Kenny Wheeler (who died last year) for his 1990 ECM album “Music For Large And Small Ensembles”. A very contemplative and touching piece with a lot of warmth and musing. And “A Case Of You” by Joni Mitchell is a fitting album closer with both Frederik and Sebastian telling the story in incredibly concentrated fashion. My favorite track at the moment is the suspense-packed “Mississippi” with its superb dexterity, going on an ambiguous excursion.