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Kino Trio

Il Cielo Sopra Berlino


by Ian Mann

June 04, 2019


An impressive statement from Kino Trio. With its unashamed focus on melody the quality of the writing impresses throughout.

Kino Trio

“Il Cielo Sopra Berlino”

(Babel Records BDV 19154)

Bruno Heinen – acoustic and electric piano, Michele Tacchi – bass, Riccardo Chiaberta – drums

Pianist and composer Bruno Heinen has been a regular presence on the Jazzmann web pages.
The London based musician has established an impressive reputation in both the jazz and classical music fields, with his work frequently combining elements of the two genres.

Heinen has enjoyed a lengthy association with the Babel record label for whom he has released six previous albums, The first of these, “Twinkle, Twinkle” (2012) was a set of variations on the well known nursery rhyme theme recorded with his Dialogues Trio featuring bassist Andrea di Biase and drummer Jon Scott together with guest reed soloist Julian Siegel.

Next came “Tierkreis”,  (2013) a superb re-interpretation of the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen in a contemporary jazz context which saw Heinen’s group expanded to a sextet with the addition of horn players Fulvio Sigurta (trumpet), Tom Challenger (tenor sax) and James Allsopp (clarinet).

The self explanatory “Postcard To Bill Evans” (2015) was an intimate duo set with the Danish guitarist Kristian Borring, while “Changing Of The Seasons” (2017) re-imagined Vivaldi in a collaboration with the Geneva based string ensemble Camerata Alma Viva.

Also in 2017 Heinen was part of the New Simplicity Trio featuring the Italian drummer and composer Antonio Fusco and the London based Danish bassist Henrik Jensen. These three collaborated on the album “Common Spaces”, also released on Babel.

In 2018 Heinen released the impressive solo piano recording “Mr Vertigo” (Babel), an album he described as being “an exploration of solo piano counterpoint”.  This featured ten pieces that drew on Heinen’s broad range of influences including jazz, classical and even pop music.

Others with whom Heinen has worked include vocalists Reem Kelani, Emilia Martensson and Heidi Vogel, bassist Sebastiano Dessanay and saxophonists Jean Toussaint, Julian Arguelles and Rachael Cohen.

He also occupied the piano chair in a production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Wonderful Town” featuring the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle at the Barbican.

Also something of an academic Heinen studied classical piano at the Royal College of Music with Head of Keyboard Andrew Ball before moving on to complete a Masters Degree in Jazz at the Guildhall where his tutors included the celebrated jazz pianists John Taylor and Pete Saberton, both sadly no longer with us. Heinen dedicated the album “Mr. Vertigo” to their memories.

He recently completed a practice based AHRC funded PhD at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester “Counterpoint in Jazz Piano with specific relation to the solo work of Fred Hersch”.

As a composer Heinen has written pieces for two pianos and percussion, jazz sextet, jazz big band and classical string ensemble. He has won prizes from the Musicians Benevolent Fund and the Countess of Munster Trust and in 2009 was nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Composers Award.

Heinen’s latest jazz project is Kino Trio, a collaboration with the Italian musicians Michele Tacchi (bass) and Riccardo Chiaberta (drums), both of whom are currently based in London. Each is an active sidemen on both the UK and Italian jazz scenes with Chiaberta having previously worked with Heinen in the Reem Kelani band.

Chiaberta has a particularly impressive CV and is part of Dugong, the group led by bassist and composer Andrea di Biase, another Italian born musician familiar to UK audiences. He has also worked with pianist Ivo Neame, the American percussionist David Friedman and a whole host of leading Italian musicians, including Oregon bassist Paolino Dalla Porta’s Future Changes Quartet.

Chiaberta’s band Nirguna released the album “Lux” in 2015 and the multi-talented musician has also released a solo piano recorded titled “A Bird Told Me”. He is also part of the multi-national indie band Kettle Of Kites, led by the Scottish singer and songwriter Tom Stearn.

Besides the Kelani connection the members of the Kino Trio, as their group name suggests, are also united by a shared love of cinema. Tacchi, in particular, has written extensively for the screen and it’s his composition, inspired by the Wim Wenders film “Wings of Desire”, that gives the album its title, the movie having been released in Italy as “Il Cielo Sopra Berlino”.

The members of Kino Trio see themselves as coming very much from the European jazz tradition, with a grounding in classical music very much a part of their sound. The trio is a democratic and highly collaborative project with all three members contributing compositions to the repertoire.

The album commences with Chiaberta’s piece “Diano”, which is introduced by the sound of the composer’s mallet rumbles and cymbal splashes. Chiaberta takes a melodic approach to the drums, acting as a provider of both rhythm and colour.  The opener also introduces the listener to the equally melodic sound of Tacchi’s fretless bass, which assumes the lead for much of the track. Heinen provides the harmonic glue that holds it all together, as well as soloing expansively himself. Attracting the listener’s attention in a totally positive way this is an excellent introduction to both the individual voices of the trio and the overall group sound.

Tacchi’s title track follows, introduced by Heinen’s piano arpeggios, these soon joined by Tacchi’s answering melodic bass motifs and the sound of delicately brushed drums. As with the opener the focus is very much on melody and this is another piece with a suitably cinematic quality about it. Heinen extemporises more fully around the theme but this is essentially a well balanced ensemble performance with bass and drums both playing key roles in the success of the music. Indeed, as the piece gathers momentum Chiaberta is featured more prominently, again demonstrating an innovative and highly melodic approach to the drums.

Also by Tacchi “Canzone Per Leo”  displays a whimsical, tongue in cheek humour as the trio toy with various styles and meters. The leader’s ever melodic bass features strongly and Chiaberta’s playful and colourful drumming is a delight throughout.

Unaccompanied piano arpeggios introduce Chiaberta’s composition “Ram”, the pianist subtly developing his ideas prior to the addition of bass and drums and the resultant surge of energy.
Nevertheless the trio maintain their melodic focus at all times as the music ebbs and flows with Heinen soloing expansively, fluently moving up and down the gears.

Heinen’s own “In Paris” is gently reflective, the atmospheric and cinematic qualities enhanced by the sampled sounds of a Parisian street scene. There’s an intimate duet between piano and bass as the composition gradually unfolds. Tacchi’s melodic approach to the bass owes more to the European cool of Eberhard Weber than it does to the exhibitionism Jaco Pastorius, but there’s no doubting the quality of his technique.

The bassist’s own “Heineniana” acts as a something of a feature for the trio’s pianist as Heinen and Tacchi again combine impressively, their lyrical exchanges enhanced by the delightful details and colourations of Chiaberta’s sensitive, but subtly colourful drumming.

Chiaberta’s composition “Lionel” introduces a different feel as Heinen moves temporarily to electric piano, the Rhodes sound giving the music a grittier edge, but without any loss of the music’s melodic focus. Indeed the interplay between Heinen, Tacchi and Chiaberta is as subtle and nuanced as anywhere else on the album. Heinen and Tacchi both solo effectively here, with Ciaberta adding pertinent percussive commentary at every turn.

The album concludes with Tacchi’s “Le Prince Defectueux” which marks a return to the trio’s signature melodic acoustic sound. Heinen is at his most lyrical and there are correspondingly sensitive contributions from Tacchi and Chiaberta on this short piece, which seems to serve as a kind of valedictory.

“Il Cielo Sopra Berlino” represents an impressive statement from Kino Trio. Combining the influence of cinema, European Jazz and the classical Romantic composers it also manages to channel the spirit of Heinen’s beloved Bill Evans for the 21st century. Kino Trio is very much a partnership of equals with Tacchi’s bass and Chiaberta’s drums playing key roles in the success of the music as they build on the enduring legacies of Scott La Faro and Paul Motian.

With its unashamed focus on melody the quality of the writing impresses throughout and the success of the album is also helped by the excellence of the recorded sound. “Il Cielo Sopra Berlino” was documented at the famous Artesuono Studio in Italy, home to many an ECM session, with the esteemed Stefano Amerio engineering and with the final mixing and mastering being undertaken by Giorgio Andreoli. The high standard of the production ensures that every nuance of the writing and playing is captured, thereby helping to create a hugely satisfying album that is sure to appeal to anybody who is a fan of what has become known as the ‘ECM sound’, particularly within the piano trio format.

The trio have two dates remaining on their current tour as below;

26 June 2019 – 8.00pm
LONDON - Bull’s Head 373 Lonsdale Road, Barnes SW13 9PY

20 July – 7.00pm        
LUTON - The Bear Club, Mill Yard, 24A Guildford St, LU1 2N


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