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Klemens Marktl Sextet - December Rating: 4 out of 5 An impressive musical statement from Marktl. As a writer he has produced a set of interesting and varied themes that give his all star group plenty to get their teeth into.

Klemens Marktl Sextet

“December”

(Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 489)

Klemens Marktl is an Austrian born drummer and composer and  is one of the many European and American musicians introduced to British audiences by the indefatigable bassist and Whirlwind record label owner Michael Janisch.

Back in 2010 I witnessed Marktl and Janisch performing as part of Slovenian saxophonist Jure Pukl’s Slavic Soul Trio at that much missed venue Dempsey’s in Cardiff. At that gig Klemens was kind enough to provide me with a copy of a live album by his international group Free Spirit Quartet featuring German saxophonist Johannes Enders, American pianist Peter Madesen and Serbian bassist Milan Nikolic.
A review of that recording can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/free-spirit-quartet-live/

Marktl and I have remained in email contact ever since and he recently forwarded me a copy of his latest album “December”, initially released in 2015 on the Barcelona based label Fresh Sound New Talent.

As a child Marktl received piano tuition before later turning to the drums. He was strongly influenced by the American jazz tradition and especially by drummer Roy Haynes. Marktl also names fellow drummers Max Roach, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Billy Higgins, Shelly Manne, Art Taylor, Mickey Roker and Frank Butler as sources of inspiration, a real roll call of jazz drumming royalty.

Still an accomplished keyboard player Marktl writes at the piano and in his role as a composer cites John Coltrane, Horace Silver, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Tadd Dameron, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea as influences. Again it’s a hugely impressive list.

Marktl studied music in Holland, eventually graduating with a Masters Degree. Since 1999 his love of contemporary jazz has inspired regular visits to New York, including a more prolonged spell in the city in 2003. It was in New York that Marktl first encountered Janisch and it was also there that he met the musicians that appear on this record.

It’s a stellar cast featuring twin saxophonists Seamus Blake and John Ellis and pianist Aaron Goldberg, all long time musical associates of Marktl. Bassist Harish Raghavan and vibraphonist Joe Locke are more recent acquaintances but both are fully attuned to Marktl’s artistic vision.

The album was recorded in New York during a marathon one day session, although a detailed rehearsal had been held beforehand. Nevertheless, in keeping with the spirit of jazz, various aspects of the arrangements were adjusted on the day of the recording. The majority of the ten pieces were written specifically for this sextet although the programme does include a number of earlier compositions.

The music is the kind of contemporary, bop inspired jazz that Marktl’s range of influences would suggest and the standard of the playing is uniformly high throughout. As befits a studio recording “December” is a more structured album than “Free Spirit Quartet Live” which was recorded at the Porgy & Bess Jazz Club in Vienna and is more of a “blowing session”.

The new album commences with “Elveen”, the title presumably a homage to the great Elvin Jones. Appropriately enough it’s Marktl’s drums that introduce the piece. The blend of saxophones is both striking and attractive with Blake on tenor and Ellis on soprano. The pair exchange phrases in increasingly garrulous fashion. They complement each other well, but there’s also an underlying element of competition. The sax duelling is superseded by a flowing solo from the excellent Locke, one of the world’s leading contemporary vibraphonists, with pianist Goldberg following and displaying similar levels of invention. Raghavan makes a strong contribution and Marktl’s busy, but taut drumming is right at the heart of the music. There’s a feature for the drummer at the conclusion of a busy, often complex, piece that serves as an excellent introduction to the different instrumental voices of the band. 

“December” itself is more reflective in mood and features Locke’s vibes and Raghavan’s bass sharing the melody line in the tune’s opening stages. Later Blake’s soprano probes gently but intelligently and there’s a flowingly lyrical piano solo from Goldberg. Marktl’s richly detailed drumming, and particularly his crisp cymbal work, serves the music well on a consistently evolving piece that is far more than “just a ballad”.

The bebop and blues flavourings of “Prosit Neujahr” (“Toast the New Year”) feature some dazzling exchanges between Locke and Goldberg as the horns sit out. The soloists are supported by the busy, bustling rhythms laid down by Marktl and Raghavan. It’s breathless, highly invigorating stuff with Marktl’s drums again featuring towards the end of the tune.

“Song For Alex” is initially more relaxed with Ellis stating the theme on tenor and sharing the solos with Goldberg and Raghavan. There’s a sudden shift in tempo, triggered by Marktl, during Ellis’ fluent solo which helps to pave the way for a joyous outpouring of ideas from Goldberg and a highly dexterous bass outing from Raghavan.

“Nina’s Dream” features the combination of Blake on soprano sax and Ellis on bass clarinet. Accompanied by the subtle patterns of Marktl’s drums the theme seeks to represent something of the out of kilter feel of the dreamlike state. Blake’s sinuous soprano digs deeper into the subconscious as the momentum of the music increases and he’s followed by the fluid sounds of Locke’s vibes.

Blake and Ellis both appear on tenor on the McCoy Tyner influenced “Three Times” with its triplicate theme. Again they complement each other well as they feed off one another’s ideas in a parade of double exchanges and individual solos. They are afforded excellent support by the trio of Goldberg, Raghavan and Marktl as Locke sits out. Pianist Goldberg also impresses with an exuberant Tyner-esque solo and Marktl is again featured towards the close.

Introduced by the leader’s drums “Bright Sparks” is a feature for Ellis on soprano with the saxophonist dancing above the buoyant rhythmic patterns generated by Marktl, Raghavan and Goldberg. The pianist also features with a sparkling solo while Locke’s vibes weave their way in and out of the piece.

The stop-start rhythms and patterns of “Traffic” are intended to evoke the frustrations of rush hour driving. Both saxophonists feature on tenor, exchanging solos and sometimes mimicking the sound of car horns. With piano and vibes sitting out Raghavan and Marktl are busy throughout, their complex but propulsive grooves helping to drive the music forward with Marktl featuring strongly towards the close. The leader isn’t afraid to highlight his own playing but always stops short of the all out, full on drum solo.

“V” represents Blake’s solo feature and this time it’s his remarkably fluent and incisive tenor that gets the opportunity to interact with the trio of Goldberg, Raghavan and Marktl. Crisp, agile rhythms help to propel the music and there’s a characteristically inventive outpouring of ideas from Goldberg on a torrential piano solo that has Marktl drumming up a storm behind.

The closing piece reduces the size of the group yet further to a trio as Goldberg, Raghavan and Marktl perform the impressionistic, valedictory, church influenced “Hymn”, with the rich sound of Raghavan’s bowed bass representing the most distinctive element.

Although there aren’t many out and out surprises the “December” album nevertheless represents an impressive musical statement from Marktl. As a writer he has produced a set of interesting and varied themes that give his all star group plenty to get their teeth into. The playing is universally excellent throughout and the album is jammed with outstanding individual solos. But there’s an impressive collective cohesiveness too with the two saxophonists sparking off each other and Locke delivering some excellent moments. At the heart of the music is the trio of Marktl, Goldberg and Raghavan, all of whom are superb throughout, both individually and as a unit. It’s the foundations laid down by these three that allow the others to shine, although Goldberg gets plenty of solo opportunities of his own and seizes these moments impressively. 

Marktl continues to be a highly busy musician performing on both sides of the Atlantic with a multitude of musicians in a variety of jazz contexts. In his native Austria he is also an acclaimed teacher and educator. “December” represents an album that he can be justly proud of.


 

 

December

Klemens Marktl Sextet

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4 out of 5

December

An impressive musical statement from Marktl. As a writer he has produced a set of interesting and varied themes that give his all star group plenty to get their teeth into.

Klemens Marktl Sextet

“December”

(Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 489)

Klemens Marktl is an Austrian born drummer and composer and  is one of the many European and American musicians introduced to British audiences by the indefatigable bassist and Whirlwind record label owner Michael Janisch.

Back in 2010 I witnessed Marktl and Janisch performing as part of Slovenian saxophonist Jure Pukl’s Slavic Soul Trio at that much missed venue Dempsey’s in Cardiff. At that gig Klemens was kind enough to provide me with a copy of a live album by his international group Free Spirit Quartet featuring German saxophonist Johannes Enders, American pianist Peter Madesen and Serbian bassist Milan Nikolic.
A review of that recording can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/free-spirit-quartet-live/

Marktl and I have remained in email contact ever since and he recently forwarded me a copy of his latest album “December”, initially released in 2015 on the Barcelona based label Fresh Sound New Talent.

As a child Marktl received piano tuition before later turning to the drums. He was strongly influenced by the American jazz tradition and especially by drummer Roy Haynes. Marktl also names fellow drummers Max Roach, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Billy Higgins, Shelly Manne, Art Taylor, Mickey Roker and Frank Butler as sources of inspiration, a real roll call of jazz drumming royalty.

Still an accomplished keyboard player Marktl writes at the piano and in his role as a composer cites John Coltrane, Horace Silver, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Tadd Dameron, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea as influences. Again it’s a hugely impressive list.

Marktl studied music in Holland, eventually graduating with a Masters Degree. Since 1999 his love of contemporary jazz has inspired regular visits to New York, including a more prolonged spell in the city in 2003. It was in New York that Marktl first encountered Janisch and it was also there that he met the musicians that appear on this record.

It’s a stellar cast featuring twin saxophonists Seamus Blake and John Ellis and pianist Aaron Goldberg, all long time musical associates of Marktl. Bassist Harish Raghavan and vibraphonist Joe Locke are more recent acquaintances but both are fully attuned to Marktl’s artistic vision.

The album was recorded in New York during a marathon one day session, although a detailed rehearsal had been held beforehand. Nevertheless, in keeping with the spirit of jazz, various aspects of the arrangements were adjusted on the day of the recording. The majority of the ten pieces were written specifically for this sextet although the programme does include a number of earlier compositions.

The music is the kind of contemporary, bop inspired jazz that Marktl’s range of influences would suggest and the standard of the playing is uniformly high throughout. As befits a studio recording “December” is a more structured album than “Free Spirit Quartet Live” which was recorded at the Porgy & Bess Jazz Club in Vienna and is more of a “blowing session”.

The new album commences with “Elveen”, the title presumably a homage to the great Elvin Jones. Appropriately enough it’s Marktl’s drums that introduce the piece. The blend of saxophones is both striking and attractive with Blake on tenor and Ellis on soprano. The pair exchange phrases in increasingly garrulous fashion. They complement each other well, but there’s also an underlying element of competition. The sax duelling is superseded by a flowing solo from the excellent Locke, one of the world’s leading contemporary vibraphonists, with pianist Goldberg following and displaying similar levels of invention. Raghavan makes a strong contribution and Marktl’s busy, but taut drumming is right at the heart of the music. There’s a feature for the drummer at the conclusion of a busy, often complex, piece that serves as an excellent introduction to the different instrumental voices of the band. 

“December” itself is more reflective in mood and features Locke’s vibes and Raghavan’s bass sharing the melody line in the tune’s opening stages. Later Blake’s soprano probes gently but intelligently and there’s a flowingly lyrical piano solo from Goldberg. Marktl’s richly detailed drumming, and particularly his crisp cymbal work, serves the music well on a consistently evolving piece that is far more than “just a ballad”.

The bebop and blues flavourings of “Prosit Neujahr” (“Toast the New Year”) feature some dazzling exchanges between Locke and Goldberg as the horns sit out. The soloists are supported by the busy, bustling rhythms laid down by Marktl and Raghavan. It’s breathless, highly invigorating stuff with Marktl’s drums again featuring towards the end of the tune.

“Song For Alex” is initially more relaxed with Ellis stating the theme on tenor and sharing the solos with Goldberg and Raghavan. There’s a sudden shift in tempo, triggered by Marktl, during Ellis’ fluent solo which helps to pave the way for a joyous outpouring of ideas from Goldberg and a highly dexterous bass outing from Raghavan.

“Nina’s Dream” features the combination of Blake on soprano sax and Ellis on bass clarinet. Accompanied by the subtle patterns of Marktl’s drums the theme seeks to represent something of the out of kilter feel of the dreamlike state. Blake’s sinuous soprano digs deeper into the subconscious as the momentum of the music increases and he’s followed by the fluid sounds of Locke’s vibes.

Blake and Ellis both appear on tenor on the McCoy Tyner influenced “Three Times” with its triplicate theme. Again they complement each other well as they feed off one another’s ideas in a parade of double exchanges and individual solos. They are afforded excellent support by the trio of Goldberg, Raghavan and Marktl as Locke sits out. Pianist Goldberg also impresses with an exuberant Tyner-esque solo and Marktl is again featured towards the close.

Introduced by the leader’s drums “Bright Sparks” is a feature for Ellis on soprano with the saxophonist dancing above the buoyant rhythmic patterns generated by Marktl, Raghavan and Goldberg. The pianist also features with a sparkling solo while Locke’s vibes weave their way in and out of the piece.

The stop-start rhythms and patterns of “Traffic” are intended to evoke the frustrations of rush hour driving. Both saxophonists feature on tenor, exchanging solos and sometimes mimicking the sound of car horns. With piano and vibes sitting out Raghavan and Marktl are busy throughout, their complex but propulsive grooves helping to drive the music forward with Marktl featuring strongly towards the close. The leader isn’t afraid to highlight his own playing but always stops short of the all out, full on drum solo.

“V” represents Blake’s solo feature and this time it’s his remarkably fluent and incisive tenor that gets the opportunity to interact with the trio of Goldberg, Raghavan and Marktl. Crisp, agile rhythms help to propel the music and there’s a characteristically inventive outpouring of ideas from Goldberg on a torrential piano solo that has Marktl drumming up a storm behind.

The closing piece reduces the size of the group yet further to a trio as Goldberg, Raghavan and Marktl perform the impressionistic, valedictory, church influenced “Hymn”, with the rich sound of Raghavan’s bowed bass representing the most distinctive element.

Although there aren’t many out and out surprises the “December” album nevertheless represents an impressive musical statement from Marktl. As a writer he has produced a set of interesting and varied themes that give his all star group plenty to get their teeth into. The playing is universally excellent throughout and the album is jammed with outstanding individual solos. But there’s an impressive collective cohesiveness too with the two saxophonists sparking off each other and Locke delivering some excellent moments. At the heart of the music is the trio of Marktl, Goldberg and Raghavan, all of whom are superb throughout, both individually and as a unit. It’s the foundations laid down by these three that allow the others to shine, although Goldberg gets plenty of solo opportunities of his own and seizes these moments impressively. 

Marktl continues to be a highly busy musician performing on both sides of the Atlantic with a multitude of musicians in a variety of jazz contexts. In his native Austria he is also an acclaimed teacher and educator. “December” represents an album that he can be justly proud of.


 

 


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