Nils Wülker – Up

Nils Wülker "Up"Jill Scott, Xavier Naidoo, David McAlmont and Max Mutzke on one album? German trumpet player Nils Wülker makes it happen. The 37 year old musician is probably best known for his music for the pretty popular “Space Night” in German TV and back in 2002, he was the very first German jazz artist on the Sony label.

With his eighth album “Up”, he has created a vocal-heavy collection with the majority of the songs being written by himself and keyboardist/pianist Peter-John Vettese. The album starts out moody and a bit somber with Nils’ distinctive playing and with “Season”, the song which features Max Mutzke, they prove that Max is simply one of the best singers in Germany, period. That’s the first highlight here followed pretty quickly after the “Space Night”-ish “A Fine Line” featuring guitarist Arne Jansen by the only real drawback of the album: I have never been a fan of Xavier Naidoo and the piece on this album won’t change it. His whining way of singing always sounds the same whatever it is that he touches.

London-based singer David McAlmont is featured here with the club-friendly “Three Grains Of Saffron”, a swaying piece of almost disco-like proportions. There are strings, those of the real kind, backing the melancholic “Kelvingrove” which also features Craig Armstrong on piano. Urban pop singer Lauren Flynn is not really convincing on “Homeless Diamond”, hers being a very replaceable voice. Well, and then there is Jill Scott. The great Jill Scott. And she delivers as expected. “Worth The Wait” finds her in heavenly form. The trumpet suits her well. It’s a song that is just the perfect fit for her. But then again, what isn’t?

Nils Wülker, who has won the Echo Jazz in 2013 and also received the Gold German Jazz Award for his “Safely Falling” album, has come to a point where his playing is very confident so that he can relax and experiment without being trapped by the need to show everything he is capable of or to play as much notes as possible. Singer Sasha has an appearance on the bumping “Keeps On Walking”, Belgian Pop/Rock singer Ozark Henry (Piet Goddaer) triumphs over the laid-back “Reading Kafka On The Shore”. There could have been a bit more of his brilliant trumpet playing on the record, I think.

Nils is on tour in April with Arne Jansen (g), Lars Duppler (p,keys), Edward Maclean (b), Benny Greb (dr), Rob Summerfield (voc):

4/11 Stuttgart, Club-CANN

4/12 Munich, Ampere

4/13 Freiburg, Jazzhaus

4/14 Osnabrück, Lagerhalle

4/17 Hamburg, Mojo Club

4/18 Frankfurt, Brotfabrik

4/19 Berlin, Grüner Salon

4/20 Cologne, Stadtgarten

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