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Bebop Spoken There

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13,530 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 948 of them this year alone and, so far, 112 this month (July 31).

Thursday, March 24, 2016

CD Review: Hans Koller – Retrospection

(Review by Hugh C.)
Hans Koller, pianist and composer, is Bavarian by birth, but has been in the UK for the last 25 years and now bases himself between Birmingham and London.  In Retrospection. he (naturally) looks back over recordings from the last five years of his output.  In this project he marks the deep influence of his jazz-loving father.  Koller also cites influences from Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans to Lennie Tristano and Gil Evans.
Retrospection is a triple album.  Retrospection I includes three originals by Koller himself and arrangements of the music of Lennie Tristano, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Jeff Williams (drums) – who also features on the recording.  Steve Swallow guests on bass – the remainder of the band includes top name British musicians from Birmingham and beyond, including the splendidly named Percy Pursglove (trumpet).  
There are six tracks:  317 East 32nd Street (Tristano) – Solitudes – Ah-leu-cha  (Parker) – Clouds of Joy – Fun House of Living (Williams) – Automat.  The groove is generally straight ahead, no-nonsense jazz, and very listenable.
On Retrospection II Koller switches from piano to Wurlitzer and features US (now Birmingham, UK) alto player John O'Gallagher and the twin guitars of Jakob Bro and Phil Robson.  The guys are joined by some of the musicians on disc one.  This disc is generally more laid back and introspective.  This disc also has six tracks:  Content the Boatman Turns – The Gig (Herbie Nichols) – And No-One Knows – Der Tag mit Seinen Licht (JS Bach) – Half of Life (pt 1) – Half of Life (pt 2).  Christine Tobin features on vocals, adding her own style to the overall sound.  Half of Life, a poem by Holderlin, and a favourite of Koller's father is offered in two different renditions in Retrospection II (with Tobin's vocals) and again in Retrospection III (purely instrumental).  
Retrospection III was recorded in Hamburg and features seven Koller originals with the sound of the NDR Big BandNeden – Half of Life (pt 1) – Half of Life (pt 2) – Eins Zwie Drei Tier – Automat – Ohr / Uhr – Siguriyia.  Retrospection III returns to the straight ahead groove in tracks 1 and 2, with a more contemplative approach to Half of Life (pt 2).
Personnel not listed above include Finn Peters, Julian Siegel, Francois Theberge  (saxophones); Robbie Robson, Chris Batchelor (trumpet); Jim Rattigan (French horn); Mark Nightingale, Jeremy Price, Sarah Williams (trombones); Dave Whitford (bass), on discs I and II together with NDR Big Band members too numerous to mention individually on disc III.
OK so far – now it's time for an admission.  The title “CD Review” is perhaps a little misleading.  This reviewer did indeed listen to the three promotional compact discs supplied in their neat card wrappers to Bebop Spoken Here, each disc coming in at a handy 40 minutes or so.  Now here's the rub – this recording is only being made available as a limited 180g vinyl triple album (with extensive liner notes by John Fordham, original artwork and design) – RRP £30 - or as a digital download (a free digital download is included in the price of the vinyl discs).  I personally think the record company are listening too hard to their trendy marketing people and are possibly missing a trick here – but that is just my opinion.
Hugh C
Retrospection is released in the UK on April 15 by Stoney Lane Records – available as triple vinyl or download.  Catalogue #SLR1920. 
Holderlin's poem Half of Life can be heard and read (in English translation) here:

1 comment :

Sam said...

Thanks for taking the time to listen and write, Hugh!

Hans was really keen to produce his music on vinyl (which we're co-releasing with Impossible Ark Records), and we were all quite excited to be able to release these three recordings in quite a special way. I'm so glad we did, as it looks and sounds lovely, and I'm now a vinyl convert! Alas the trendy marketing people (me, with no hipster beard or kale chips in sight!) found the cost of making triple CD albums as well as records would prove beyond our small indy label/busking budget - possibly something we can make in the future if we sell some records first!

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