(Shoebill Music SB15009)
Although I am listening to this trio album – Johannes Haage on guitar, Matthias Pichler on bass and Joe Smith on drums – on CD, this is a “not for sale” promotional version of the album. Shoebill, which Haage runs out of Berlin, is a label which releases commercial physical copies in vinyl only, hence the Side A and Side B divisions between its nine tracks (two alternate takes are added and one vinyl track cut on a commercially available download version).
It opens with with a brief free-time, angular introduction called Birds, the brushes on snare fluttering like wings, the guitar and bass all beaky and claw-like. But Valentina is perhaps more typical of the album as a whole. It’s a lovely flowing piece which has a little Bill Frisell-influence about it in its folky melodicism, and Haage’s playing – the chords may be jazz-complex, but the tone and phrasing is rich in country-rock warmth.
The moods changes nicely, the pace is usually medium, the interaction of the three musicians is relaxed and feels like that of good friends. There is a generosity and warmth about this music which goes to the heart of things. It’s a richly rewarding listen.
I can see why Haage concentrates on vinyl releases, both of his own music and that of others. The fine quality of the recording makes me yearn for my long sold turntable.
- Other recent Shoebill releases include three albums led by drummer Janis Görlich, a two-parter from his Bummelzug Explosion/Expedition band and one from Kleiner Dicker Mönch (reviewed here). For more about this excellent German independent vinyl label go here.
Categories: LP review