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Chris Gall Trio featuring Enik

Climbing Up

ACT 9659-2 [50:08]




pre.lude [1:27]
21st Century Jesus [4:34]
Kap Hoorn [5:30]
Ten Lifes [4:56]
i.lude I [1:03]
October Boulevard [4:27]
Love Fails [5:16]
Life Is Like Weather [5:58]
i.lude II [1:19]
Everybody Knows But Me [3:39]
Lullaby [4:49]
i.lude III [1:30]
Climbing Up [3:39]
post.lude [1:54]
Chris Gall (piano)
Marcel Krömker (bass)
Peter Gall (drums)
Enik (vocals tracks 2, 4, 7, 8,10)
All music by Chris Gall, all lyrics by Enik
rec. 2007


This is part of ACT’s "Young German Jazz" series and pairs Chris Gall and his trio with the singer Enik. Gall is an accomplished pianist who studied at Berklee and he has a young and vibrant trio. Together they’ve produced an album that ranges stylistically and crosses boundaries with a real sense of adventure.

The disc begins with pre.lude – all lower case and with a full stop, in the accepted modern manner. Let’s not worry too much about trendy typography, this is harmonically paraphrased Chopin and it reappears throughout the various preludes or "i.ludes" as they’re later called. But in their exploration of the classical, the lyrical and the pop elements of music – which includes the fringes of "world" music – the band reminds me of two other trios; the Bad Plus and E.S.T. Not nearly as combustible, but allied in sensibility, in the potential to co-opt and transform all music, disdaining no vehicle if it seems useful and right.

Try Kap Hoorn for this side to their music making. Or try Ten Lifes (Lives, surely) with its romantic space and rich piano chording and hints of Keith Jarrett to add to the Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson influence. This is something that appears again in Love Fails, which sounds strongly like one of Jarrett’s late 1960s trio performances – remember when he took on Dylan’s My Back Pages? – though here we find that there are also folkloric influences as well, touches of Bartók and cimbalon imitations. This is an extensive, evocative, wide-ranging workout of a track and manages, despite these seemingly disparate elements, to fuse together with conspicuous success.

There are hints of Latin American rhythm and of Abdullah Ibrahim, maybe, in the title track – but there’s also that Bad Plus cum E.S.T, transmutational, omnivorous, pulsing drama again, with Marcel Krömker (bass) and Peter Gall (drums) stoking up the excitement level.

The final ingredient I’ve left to last and that’s Enik, who sounds like a cross between a Weimar cabaret singer and David Bowie. He has a rough textured, occasionally falsetto-heading voice and sings in English with a distinctive German accent. He sings on five tracks and it’s a not unattractive sound.

On balance though I prefer the trio in all its instrumental compression. This is an exciting young band well worth looking out for.

Jonathan Woolf


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