Jörg Schippas TEKK Trio

July 25, 2023

JazzhausMusik JHS 302

André Carvalho
Lost in Translation Vol. II
Clean Feed CF 626 CD

Straying rather close to the border of Smooth Jazz but cannily avoiding its reliance on repetition, treacle and simplicity are these two trio sessions. Moderate in ambition and execution, both German guitarist Jörg Schippas and Portuguese bassist prove that pleasantly melodic music can be worldly as well. For a start the TEKK Trio includes a secret weapon, alto saxophonist Silke Eberhard, who often works in less mainstream contexts such as her own Potsa Lotsa band. Meanwhile bassist Horst Nonnenmacher has played with the likes of Jim Black and veteran Schippas has worked with Kenny Wheeler. The sort of lyricism that Wheeler personified is emphasized later on some of TEKK’s dozen tunes, but at the top, Eberhard as the disrupter upsets the pat program. For example what begin with simple acoustic guitar fingering on “Darf ich bitten?” soon become gutsier as the saxophonist wriggles down the scale with tonguing slaps and squeaks as bass thumps supply the proper accented throbs. “Tanz mal ab!” combines fusion and freedom as Nonnenmacher’s buzzing string pops could have come from Duck Dunn, and Schippas’ expressive string slashes from Steve Cropper. In contrast Eberhard’s split tones and jagged trills wouldn’t have got her gigs at Stax-Volt but harmonized with the others output.

Despite having no drummer, Nonnenmacher creates enough rhythmic heft throughout to make nearly every tune a foot-tapper. “Schnell mal weg” is anchored by another funky electric bass groove as the line is stretched out in broken-chord rapport with pinched reed doits and bird-like cries echoed by spanning guitar chords. Schippas’ guitar command is such though that as on “Fast and Slow” he can take a moderated exposition dominated by harmonized hesitant floating reed tones, electric bass echoes and rhythm guitar chording and transform the expected with C&W styled twangs and electrified flanges. Overall though the guitarist’s string affiliations range closer to JH (Jim Hall) than JH (Jimi Hendrix). But maintaining those civilized resonations he projects and harmonizes finespun swing. Usually locking in with the bassist’s catchy shuffles and/or the saxophonist’s horizontal flutters melody affiliations are as elegant yet erudite as Paul Desmond’s sessions with Jim Hall.

There are more echoes of Desmond-like taste and style on Lost in Translation Vol. II as alto saxophonist José Soares specializes in thin flutters and tremolo slides in unison melody exploration with Carvalho and guitarist André Matos. When all elements lock into place, the result is rousing as on “Gurfa”. An essay in lighthearted swing, the sympathetic narrative harmonizes single-string guitar jabs, consistent Arcadian reed trills and double bass pulsations until a measured conclusion. Also notable with a Baroque-type fillip is “Gökotta’, with the three instruments advancing in nuanced harmony. Atmospheric, the sweeping string affiliations are balanced by gentle reed trills and the barest hint of electronics.

Besides that diversion, most of the suite evolves without much upsetting of norms save an occasional reed tongue, extension or squeaking bite, guitar string flange or twang and the bassist’s deepening pulsations projected arco or pizzicato. Harmonized swing which most of the rough edges chipped away, any deviation is subsumed to a sonic consistency that moves without offending. Some of the lost translation here seemed to be for gutsiness. Although neither disc really excites but the TEKK Trio creates a more robust statement.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: MushMix: 1. HauRuck 2. Ein näckisch Tänzchen 3. .Fekk 4. Darf ich bitten? 5. Tanz mal ab! 6. Wer kommt denn da an 7. Fast and Slow 8. The Trap 9. Schnell mal weg 10. Walzer nanu 11. MushMix 12. First Schrott

Personnel: MushMix: Silke Eberhard (alto saxophone); Jörg Schippas (guitar) and Horst Nonnenmacher (electric bass)

Track Listing: Lost: 1. Mencolek 2. Tagumi 3. Poronkusema 4. Zhagzhagh 5. Gurfa 6. Gökotta 7. Pana Po’o 8. Waldeinsamkeit

Personnel: Lost: José Soares (alto saxophone); André Matos (guitar) and André Carvalho (bass)