Jakob Karlzon 3 and Manu Katché in Berlin

Manu KatchéIt was a welcome change of pace when Swedish pianist Jakob Karlzon sat down at his piano to play two solo pieces, both covers of well-known tunes. “Mad World” by Tears for Fears and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2 were more or less the only tracks at last night’s concert where you could actually hear his virtuosity. Other pieces were disturbed by electronic effects, synth parts and playback sounds which, at times, made the piano hardly audible. “Outsourced”, from his current ACT Music album “Shine”, was a totally distorted affair.

Other songs from his new album, like “Bubbles” and “Metropolis”, didn’t really work either. There was too much going on in those soundscapes encumbering the trio’s music. Robert Mehmet Ikiz on drums saved a lot of the songs with his adventurous playing. The trio’s concept worked best in “A Thousand Conclusions”, also from the new album which is actually more enjoyable than witnessing the music live.

A totally different affair was the second part of the concert which was part of the ongoing JazzNights series touring all over Germany (next up will be Cassandra Wilson in late November/early December). Drummer Manu Katché, the dynamic musician with his constant and sympathetic smile, was clearly the leader of the fascinating quartet and yet, the drum wasn’t overshadowing the whole sound as is so often the case with drum-led groups. His group of musicians from all over Europe all had thrilling solo moments and the group sound was a persisting journey, nothing ephemeral.

Luca Aquino from Italy on trumpet, Tore Brunborg from Norway on sax and organist/pianist Jim Watson from the UK were all supportive members and totally enhanced the compositions of the formidable drummer.

All musicians from both bands were on stage for the final track at Berlin’s Postbahnhof but it didn’t really click.

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