Reviews that mention Michael Griener

July 16, 2020

Lina Allemano’s Ohrenschmaus

Rats and Mice
Lumo Records LM 2019-10

By Ken Waxman

Splitting her time between Toronto and Berlin, local trumpeter Lina Allemano now has a European combo to complement her long-standing Canadian bands. Rock-solid German drummer Michael Griener and agile Norwegian electric bassist Dan Peter Sundland bring startling originality to the trumpeter’s compositions which broaden from Allemano’s cunning use of extended techniques. Frequently shadowing Allemano’s lead, the bassist’s thumb pops and moderated slaps perfectly augment trumpet timbres whether they’re spit out at a speedy pace or as grounded gurgling growls. As for the drummer, his tasteful side clips and rolling ruffs ensure the tunes maintain a steady pulse. MORE

February 28, 2020

Eskelin/Weber/Griener

The Pearls
Intakt CD 331

Reeds & Deeds

Live at JazzCase

el NEGOCITO eNR074

Dealing with the now century old Jazz tradition poses interesting challenges for contemporary musicians. Ignoring mere imitation, knowing players strive to inject their own notions when interpreting classic fare. These sessions reflect contrasting methods of dealing with the situation, both of which have advantages and deficiencies.

Taking on the sizeable legacy of American multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1935-1977) is the task facing the mostly Dutch Reeds & Deeds sextet. Instructively though it takes three saxophonists – Frans Vermeerssen and American Alex Coke who were both in the Willem Breuker Kollektief and Bo van de Graaf, who leads the Fellini-esque I Compani – to play the reed parts Kirk did on his own, simultaneously blowing his three horns. The rhythm section is well-prepared as well with pianist Michiel Braam, who leads many of his own bands, bassist Arjen Gorter, another former Kollektief member and drummer Makki van Engelen on board. MORE

August 6, 2018

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin

Ninety-Nine Years
Libra Records 211-047

Some people collect classic cars, others specific paintings, but Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii collects groups. Besides the number of duos, trios and quartets the peripatetic pianist is part of, she has organized – at last count – five different big bands, each relating to where in Europe, Asia or North America she happened to be residing at the time. At the same time Ninety-Nine Years, a new configuration of her Orchestra Berlin, demonstrates that her skill as orchestrator, pianist and composer are formidable for every item in her collection. She has help of course. Featured on this disc’s five tracks, are besides her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, of international, Berlin-based players Polish baritone saxophonist Paulina Owczarek, French drummer Peter Orins, Canadian trumpeter Lina Allemano, and Germans Richard Koch (trumpet(; Matthias Müller (trombone); Matthias Schubert and Gebhard Ullmann (tenor saxophones); Jan Roder (bass) and Michael Griener (drums). MORE

April 2, 2018

Die Enttäuschung

Lavaman
Intakt CD 289

Unfortunately the followers of so-called Classic Jazz are so committed to a limited repertoire repeatedly played in only one manner by recognized song rercreators that they wouldn’t recognize that the ebullient Die Enttäuschung could be ingeniously concocting a new variation of Trad Jazz. Especially with the addition of trombonist Christof Thewes, who can snarl plunger tones with the best, the quintet would be an asset at any Jazz Party. That will never happen of course, precisely because of the quintet`s other capability: its members are constantly seeking new forms of expression. MORE

February 16, 2018

Simon Rummel Ensemble

Im Meer
Umlaut Records UMFRCD-22

An instance of what could be called the new minimalism, Im Meer is a leisurely elaboration of keyboardist Simon Rummel’s composition by 11 handpicked Köln-based improvisers who were encouraged to alter tempos, harmonies, counterpoint and the like as the

30 minute plus piece evolved. The result floats fluidly and airily but without negating the musical rigor the lies beneath the surface.

Tier-born Rummel has worked as a cantor and organist at a Protestant church; done theatre work, taught at Jazz schools and had his recorder concert premiered by the Bochum Symphony Orchestra. Im Meer reflects aspects of this mixed background, as its slow unfolding initially depends on an admixture of flute, recorder, harmonium and melodic textures, whose movement is not only leisurely slow, but almost ecclesiastically processional. Eventually, as the sequences speed up, strangled horn timbres subsumed by tremolo outpourings create contrapuntal atonality reflected in alto saxophone bites, clarinet puffs and tuba lowing. Interjections, including drum-top splashes, brassy harmonies and a stringent sprint from the violin, reach a crescendo that never lapses into atonality, while remaking the melody as lighter, faster and almost swinging fare. Eventually drum clip-clops, bouncy tuba blows and heraldic brass challenge with parade-ground-like rigor the still audible and evolving harmonium-flute-record undercurrent. Contradictions are resolved in the penultimate minutes, as first tuba than clarinet, following closely by the other massed horns, reprises the fluid theme, with the resulting union cannily wrapping up the piece in a single musical strain. MORE

September 13, 2017

Uwe Oberg/Rudi Mahall/Michael Griener

Lacy Pool…2
Leo Records CD LR 792

Rova/Kyle Bruckmann/Henry Kaiser

Steve Lacy’s Saxophone Special Revisited

Clean Feed CF 415 CD

With saxophonist Steve Lacy’s death now 13 years in the past, musicians have begun dealing with his musical legacy in different ways. Like a visual artist celebrated for his painting who was also an accomplished sculptor, Lacy’s capability as a master improviser who established the soprano saxophone in modern Jazz is unquestioned; evaluating the music he composed over a 50-year career is the next challenge. The CDs here realize the material’s potential however because each group involved interprets Lacy’s works according to its own ideas, rather than embalming it as is the concept behind so-called ghost bands. MORE

May 23, 2017

Simon Rummel Ensemble

Nichts Für Alle
Umlaut Records UMFR-CD19

Max Nagl Ensemble

Live at Porgy & Bess Vol. 2

Rude Noises 024

One of those phrases like laid-back Manhattanite which you don’t hear very often is humorous Teuton. But what sounds like an oxymoron is actually an apt description of these fine discs. Like muralists using a wider palate two Germanic player/composers – one from Köln and the other from Vienna – organized large ensembles to interpret their original compositions. Someone who composes for theatre, and dance as well as improvising with the likes of trumpeter Steve Bernstein and saxophonist Loll Coxhill, Austrian saxophonist Max Nagl’s Live at Porgy & Bess Vol. 2 is a wild-and-wooly 2016 sequel to a related showcase recorded in the same Viennese club with an identically sized band in 2012. German keyboardist Simon Rummel, who has worked in theatre composing music as well as other functions, been a church organist and has his tunes played by the James Choice Orchestra, convened the 11-piece Köln-based ensemble featured on Nichts Für Alle expressly to interpret his new compositions. MORE

March 6, 2017

Eskelin/Weber/Griener

Sensations of Tone
Intakt Records CD 276

C.B.G.

Les Indignés

Trytone TT559-066

By Ken Waxman

Journeys inside the Wayback Machine characterize these CDs by tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and two different European rhythm sections. Literally a blast from the past, Les Indignés was recorded in 2011 when the saxophonist joined C.B.G. – guitarist Guillermo Celano and drummer Marcos Baggiani – plus Dutch bassist Clemens van der Feen, to record eight originals. More a symbolic past life experience, Sensations of Tone attains a different, difficult objective. Eskelin, German drummer Michael Griener and Swiss bassist Christian Weber mingle four improvisations with four hot jazz standards from the ‘20s and ‘30s, interpreting all in the same free manner. Although the later CD has a slight edge, each disc succeeds on its own merit. MORE

October 26, 2016

Themroc 3

Rocthem!
WhyPlayJazz RS 029

Trio Red Space

Fields of Flat

Relay Recordings 013

Reducing music to the rudiments of percussion and horns are these two differently constituted trios which like visual artists who only deal with the shape of lines, demonstrate that focused purity can be all that’s needed for notable creativity. Lacking any chordal instrument, each of the trios still overcomes the monochromatic aspects of such performances with unique strategies. Trio Red Space immerses itself in the breakneck tempos and extended techniques of Free Jazz. Meanwhile Themroc 3 traffics in brisk, jubilant fanfares that wouldn’t be out of place in a big top performance. MORE

April 12, 2016

Ulrich Gumpert Quartet

A New One
Intakt Records 257

By Ken Waxman

East Germany’s most prominent jazz composer/pianist, Ulrich Gumpert 70, shows that he has lost none of his Teutonic-Thelonious acuity in the quarter century since the destruction of the Berlin Wall. With band members several years his junior, including Germans, bassist Jan Roder and drummer Michael Griener plus Swiss saxophonist Jürg Wickihalder, the quartet moves though 11 mostly Gumpert-composed tunes that could equally impress in a West Berlin club with aficionados familiar with the sounds of Monk and bop, as well as an East Berlin theatre audience more attuned to Socialist realist anthems and folkloric marches. MORE

December 16, 2015

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin

Ichigo Ichie
Libra Records 212 037

Circum Grand Orchestra

12

Circum-Disc CD 1401

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja

Dobialabel

Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris

Possible Universe

NBR SA Jazz 014

Bertrand Denzler/Onceim

Morph

Confront ccs 37

Something In The Air: Big Bands Redux

By Ken Waxman

Although most people associate big bands with the Swing Era dances and later, jazzier, manifestations such as Nimmons’n’Nine and The Boss Brass, despite the dearth of venues and difficulties of keeping even a combo working steadily, musicians persist in utilizing large ensembles. Like muralists who prefer the magnitude of a large canvas, composers, arrangers and players appreciate the colours and breath available using numerous, well-balanced instruments. MORE

December 1, 2014

Squakk

Willisau & Berlin
Intakt Records 231 CD

John Hollenbeck/Alban Darche/Sébastien Boissau/Samuel Blaser

JASS

Yolk Music J2059

Co-operation and self-expression are the watchwords of these trombone-reeds quartets as each works out a program that swings unabashedly while making room for dexterous arrangement and free-form soloing. A retrofit of an existing trio, the all-German Squakk adds the acknowledged skills of Rudi Mahall on clarinet and bass clarinet plus his recorded debut as a baritone saxophonist to a band consisting of trombonist Christof Thewes, bassist Jan Roder and drummer Michael Griener. A more international affair, JASS consists of French musicians, tenor saxophonist Alban Darche and bassist Sébastien Boisseau, plus two Berlin-based expats: American percussionist John Hollenbeck and Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser. MORE

July 15, 2013

Ulrich Gumpert Workshop Band

Berlin/New York
Jazz Werkstatt JW 10142

About 6,500 kilometres by air separate Brooklyn from Berlin, and it took East German pianist/composer Ulrich Gumpert and his Workshop Band only 40 years to make the trip. Arguably the most important – and definitely the most experimental – bandleader to come from the GDR, Thuringia-born, Berlin-based Gumpert first began recording his unique arrangements with like-minded musicians in 1972.

Since that time in big bands, duos and the famous Zentralquartett, the pianist has evolved a style that is both populist and progressive. His creations mix hard-bop, gospel and blues influences with selected Teutonic marches and folk songs Aus Teutschen Landen or “from German lands”, burlesquing the war horses as he uses their blunt underpinning as a basis for first-rate jazz. That’s why this session, recorded live at Brooklyn’s Irondale Cultural Center as part of the four-day Jazz Werkstatt Berlin-New York festival is doubly memorable. It’s the very first time Gumpert’s large ensemble music was exposed to an audience in the city still thought of as the jazz capital of the world. MORE

March 6, 2012

Jürg Wickihalder European Quartet

Jump!
Intakt CD 194

By Ken Waxman

Bonding over a mutual appreciation for the music of Thelonious Monk and Steve Lacy Irène Schweizer, Switzerland’s most accomplished improvising pianist, and Jürg Wickihalder, a young Swiss soprano saxophonist, have played together regularly over the past decade. This fine quartet session is the result of their mutual respect and accommodation.

Seconded by steadfast Swiss bassist Fabian Gisler and subtle and inventive German drummer Michael Griener, both of whom are closer to Wickihalder’s than Schweizer’s age, the two cycle though originals by the saxophonist. The front line players’ musical rapport conclusively dissolves their approximately 40 year age difference. Schweizer’s experience means she knew Lacy as a peer, while Wickihalder studied with him. That familiarity on Wickihalder’s part may be the disc’s shortcoming however. There are points at which the sound of his soprano is too close to Lacy’s and not individual enough. Still, the pianist’s presence makes the saxophonist’s playing more adventurous than it was on his first two CDs. MORE

June 27, 2011

Paul Brody’s Sadawi

Far from Moldova
Morgenland ML 7001

Most likely the hippest and most musically varied Klezmer-inflected CD featuring two guys named Christian, Far from Moldova is all that and more. The brainchild of Berlin-based, California transplant, trumpeter Paul Brody, the CD and his band Sadawi enjoyably mixes together strands of Jazz, Klez, Rock and notated music. Having some of the German capital’s most advanced players in the band helps as well.

Not that Brody is any slouch in the versatility department. After graduating from Boston’s New England Conservatory focused on Third-Stream music, he’s toiled in pit bands, backed pop singers, recorded a couple of children’s records and is probably best-known for a trio with pianist/accordionist Alan Bern and guitarist Michael Rodach. MORE

January 8, 2011

JazzWerkstatt

Berlin-New York Festival
By Ken Waxman

Berlin came to Brooklyn with a bang on the weekend of November 26 to 28, with eight different bands from the German capital played at the Irondale Cultural Center. Much of that bang – not to mention ruffs, rolls and rebounds – came from Günter Baby Sommer, Michael Griener and Christian Lillinger – three of Germany`s top percussionists, each featured with several bands. At the same time terrific Teutonic technique wasn`t restricted to drummers. The festival exposed New Yorkers to a cross-section of Berlin`s best improvised music from elder jazz statesmen and innovative younger players alike, who record in the main for the JazzWerkstatt label. MORE

April 9, 2010

Uwe Oberg/Christof Thewes/Michael Griener

Lacy Pool
hatOLOGY 676

Creating something original from an already existing musical cannon is a challenge acknowledged but rarely demonstrated by many contemporary improvisers. Homage doesn’t mean recreation, as some players have sadly proven. Instead redefinition of already created compositions involves tinkering with the material while staying true to its underlying ideas. This is what Lacy Pool does

Avoiding the majority of the most recognized tunes composed by American soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy (1934-2004), the trio members instead concentrates on 10 others, interpolating their own instant compositions within two of the Lacy tunes. Also note that there’s no saxophone of any size on this CD. Plus, while Lacy had close relationships with trombonists such as Roswell Rudd and pianists such as Bobby Few, the piano-trombone-drum voicing here adds a unique tonal variant to his work. MORE

November 16, 2009

Berlin’s European Jazz Jamboree Offers a Unique Take on American-based Jazz

By Ken Waxman

Like one of those novels of speculative fiction that posit a scenario in which the South wins the American Civil War; or perhaps like a variant of Superman Comic’s Bizzaro planet where everything is the reverse of earth, 2009’s European Jazz Jamboree (EEJ) offered an alternate view of jazz history. Here the music was essentially in the tradition, but, in the main, interpreted by Europeans rather than Americans.

This led to some spectacular performances taking place during the series of concerts in selected Berlin venues during mid-September. But as Superman found when he visited the Bizarro world, altered history can sometimes be disconcerting. Similarly some of the EJJ combinations failed to live up to their expected promise(s). In a further Bizarro-like irony, some of the fest’s best sounds came from aggregations whose music had very little to do with the EJJ’s stated theme. MORE

August 25, 2009

Michael Vlatkovich

Three3
ThankYou Records MV013

Griener/Roder/Thewes

SQUAKK

Jazz Werkstatt JW 046

Rumination in the ‘bone yard; these notable sessions revel in the multiplicity of sounds that can be extracted from only three instruments. Luckily the two bass-drum-trombone ensembles here bring a similar understanding of proper dynamics, although the strategies are antipodal.

Seven extended compositions by Portland, Ore.-based trombonist Michael Vlatkovich make up Three3’s session, while 14 of the 17 [!] tracks on SQUAKK were either written, co-written or improvised by trombonist Christof Thewes of Berlin. A long-time associate of multi-reedman Vinny Golia, Vlatkovich has done everything from co-leading an ensemble with a poet; playing in a combo with cornetist Bobby Bradford; performing on film soundtracks like The Tempest; and backing pop singers such as Bryan Adams. Bassist Kent McLagen has recorded with trumpeter Ron Miles and guitarist Bill Frisell, while drummer Chris Lee is a local time-keeper. MORE

August 25, 2009

Griener/Roder/Thewes

SQUAKK
Jazz Werkstatt JW 046

Michael Vlatkovich

Three3

ThankYou Records MV013

Rumination in the ‘bone yard; these notable sessions revel in the multiplicity of sounds that can be extracted from only three instruments. Luckily the two bass-drum-trombone ensembles here bring a similar understanding of proper dynamics, although the strategies are antipodal.

Seven extended compositions by Portland, Ore.-based trombonist Michael Vlatkovich make up Three3’s session, while 14 of the 17 [!] tracks on SQUAKK were either written, co-written or improvised by trombonist Christof Thewes of Berlin. A long-time associate of multi-reedman Vinny Golia, Vlatkovich has done everything from co-leading an ensemble with a poet; playing in a combo with cornetist Bobby Bradford; performing on film soundtracks like The Tempest; and backing pop singers such as Bryan Adams. Bassist Kent McLagen has recorded with trumpeter Ron Miles and guitarist Bill Frisell, while drummer Chris Lee is a local time-keeper. MORE

July 13, 2009

Ulrich Gumpert Workshop Band

Suites
Jazz Werkstatt JW 054

Looking for a personalized unbeatable definition of post-modern music? How about wanting to experience the compositions and arrangements of someone who has taken the mid-sized band concepts of Charles Mingus into the 21st Century? Guess what, the same person typifies both. It’s Berlin-based pianist/composer Ulrich Gumpert. Suites by his Workshop Band – note the echo of Mingus’ Jazz Workshop – is yet another exciting example of his talent.

For years a member and chief composer of Zentralquartett, the former East Germany’s most accomplished small group, Gumpert had been simultaneously writing and recording with a top-flight 12-piece Workshop Band. Suites however highlights the 63-year-old Gumpert’s accommodation with the generation of improvisers that followed his own, plus recognition of the economies of scale. The now eight-piece Workshop Band is populated by some of the most accomplished young Berlin-based improvisers including reedist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff, who works with bassist Sirone; drummer Michael Grenier who plays with saxophonist – and Zentralquartett member – Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky; Monks Casino bassist Jan Roder; and reedist Michael Thieke, part of the well-regarded Clarinet Trio. MORE

April 1, 2008

Kartet

The Bay Window
Songlines SGL SA 1560-2

James Carney Group

Green-Wood

Songlines SGL SA 1566-2

Alberto Braida/Wilbert de Joode

Reg Erg

Red Toucan RT 9332

Carl Ludwig Hübsch

Primordial Soup

Red Toucan RT 9331

Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff

Way Out Northwest

Drip Audio DA 00272

By Ken Waxman

Music transcends borders, and so does music distribution in the Internet age. Couple this with the maturation of the Canadian improvised music scene and a new phenomenon is visible: CDs recorded elsewhere, but released by Canadian labels for international distribution. MORE

April 1, 2008

Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff

Way Out Northwest
Drip Audio DA 00272

Kartet

The Bay Window

Songlines SGL SA 1560-2

James Carney Group

Green-Wood

Songlines SGL SA 1566-2

Alberto Braida/Wilbert de Joode

Reg Erg

Red Toucan RT 9332

Carl Ludwig Hübsch

Primordial Soup

Red Toucan RT 9331

By Ken Waxman

Music transcends borders, and so does music distribution in the Internet age. Couple this with the maturation of the Canadian improvised music scene and a new phenomenon is visible: CDs recorded elsewhere, but released by Canadian labels for international distribution. MORE

April 1, 2008

Carl Ludwig Hübsch

Primordial Soup
Red Toucan RT 9331

Kartet

The Bay Window

Songlines SGL SA 1560-2

James Carney Group

Green-Wood

Songlines SGL SA 1566-2

Alberto Braida/Wilbert de Joode

Reg Erg

Red Toucan RT 9332

Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff

Way Out Northwest

Drip Audio DA 00272

By Ken Waxman

Music transcends borders, and so does music distribution in the Internet age. Couple this with the maturation of the Canadian improvised music scene and a new phenomenon is visible: CDs recorded elsewhere, but released by Canadian labels for international distribution. MORE

April 1, 2008

Alberto Braida/Wilbert de Joode

Reg Erg
Red Toucan RT 9332

Kartet

The Bay Window

Songlines SGL SA 1560-2

James Carney Group

Green-Wood

Songlines SGL SA 1566-2

Carl Ludwig Hübsch

Primordial Soup

Red Toucan RT 9331

Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff

Way Out Northwest

Drip Audio DA 00272

By Ken Waxman

Music transcends borders, and so does music distribution in the Internet age. Couple this with the maturation of the Canadian improvised music scene and a new phenomenon is visible: CDs recorded elsewhere, but released by Canadian labels for international distribution. MORE

April 1, 2008

James Carney Group

Green-Wood
Songlines SGL SA 1566-2

Alberto Braida/Wilbert de Joode

Reg Erg

Red Toucan RT 9332

Kartet

The Bay Window

Songlines SGL SA 1560-2

Carl Ludwig Hübsch

Primordial Soup

Red Toucan RT 9331

Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff

Way Out Northwest

Drip Audio DA 00272

By Ken Waxman

Music transcends borders, and so does music distribution in the Internet age. Couple this with the maturation of the Canadian improvised music scene and a new phenomenon is visible: CDs recorded elsewhere, but released by Canadian labels for international distribution. MORE

January 25, 2008

Dietrich Eichmann Ensemble

The Hot Days
Leo CD LR 486

Berlin-based composer and improvising pianist Dietrich Eichmann has been involved in creating an array of notated and instantly created sounds during his two-decade long creative career. But it’s likely that this session is the first he – or perhaps any one else – has organized where one of the main musical voices is a hearing aid.

Luckily, Gunnar Brandt-Sigurdsson who “plays”– if that’s the proper term – the device, overcomes the novelty factor and manages to convert it into a flexible improvising voice. In this slice of 21st Century improv, harsh oscillated timbres fashioned from the ear-addition are and just as crucial for this music as the alternating undulating blasts and delicate breaths of American Chris Hennan’s alto saxophone and contrabass clarinet also heard here. MORE

January 21, 0208

Bambostic

DJ`s Nightmare
JazzHausMusik JHS 252

RKeT

ReKorT

Umland Records 3

Taking on novel populist roles on these CDs, Münster-basesd alto and bass saxophonist Jan Klare, best-known for his leadership of The Dorf large ensemble, ventures into the sound world of hearty percussion and brief performances. Klare, whose catalogue radiates influences from all parts of the improvised musical globe, is joined on ReKorT by Dutch bass guitarist Luc Ex and American drummer Michael Vatcher for a dozen tracks that mate Punkish vigor with instrumental Jazz smarts. Taking the Way Back Machine even further into the past from Punk Rock’s Year Zero of 1976, Bambostic is a quartet whose 11 selections were part of the repertoire of alto saxophonist Earl Bostic (1913-1965), whose danceable hits charted from the 1940s to the 1960s and bridged Swing Era romps and groove-based R&B. MORE