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Sleeve of "Live in Köln

Post-free electric jazz from Germany, released as part of ACT’s “Young German Jazz” series. Twenty-something trumpeter Schriefl uses techniques – mutes, extreme voicings, and what are generally referred to as “little instruments” (or simply “toys”) – which suggest a familiarity with free improvisation, but applies them to music with structures and melodies. What he does is hardly straightforward post-bop, though, rather a melange of various styles which generally hangs together well.

The first two-thirds of the album, from a Cologne club date, is by a trumpet, guitar, bass and drums quartet which can switch effortlessly from lyrical ballads to amps-up-to-eleven riffing to a fusion of a New Orleans marching band and a German oompah band. The overall sound is at times reminiscent of Peter Evan’s excellent ! from a couple of years ago, but the actual music is very different. On the other hand, there are times when it’s superficially more like The Dog Faced Hermans. The final three tracks, from a different concert, add a string quartet and Django Bates on keyboards and tenor horn. They make the sound a bit fuller, but the essential character of the music remains the same.

Live in Köln isn’t flawless: at times there is one abrupt juxtaposition of idioms too many, and it slips from wittily inventive polystylism* into irritatingly smartarse zaniness. In general this is a very fine album, though.

It’s also one which suggests that, for all their undeniable technical excellence, Schreifl’s Scottish contemporaries are by-and-large musically a fairly conservative lot.

*Hello Alfred Schnittke.

Biography of Matthais Schriefl from the ACT site.

Two other reviews of Live in Köln:

And here’s a clip of them in action. There’s a version of this piece on the album..