Audio Jazz-CD of the Month: Complicated Stories (With No End)
Complicated Stories? This applies more to the process of composing, as the Berlin-based pianist (and jazz educator) Christian von der Goltz describes: “Trying to grasp a melody is about as easy as trying to remember a dream or get hold of a bar of soap in the bathtub.” The result: Some are never finished. This also goes for several of the nine new titles on this CD: Ariadnefaden (Ariadne’s Thread), for instance, designed to lead us out of the labyrinth, could be spun indefinitely; many of the themes seem to have sprung from the moment. The majority are simple, but can’t be hummed to; they’re beautiful, but never kitsch. And diversity triumphs: the soul/blues/rock song Praise exists side by side with magnificently boppy ballads; meditations on infinite space (Milky Way) with drawn-out tone modulations; a waltz in minor plays havoc with step sequence, in contrast with the exuberant and playful variations on a kind of child’s song (Paulie’s Idea).
On the CD cover, the boss’ name is enclosed by Paul Imm (bass) and Heinrich Köbberling (drums). Quite rightly. The three form a unified whole the likes of the Bill Evans Trio, echoes of whose style reverberate in the music. Imm has a lot of space for his melodious soli, which are delicately accompanied on the piano, while his interaction with Köbberling attests to a long musical partnership. Fantastic music, fantastically recorded. Peter Steder, June 2006
Finely Spun Tales
They aren’t at all as “complicated” as the title might lead us to believe—the “stories” Berlin-based pianist Christian von der Goltz tells with his trio. On the contrary, they are sophisticated, intelligent, and finely spun, and sometimes highly complex. And they all have an end.
Ever since his trio debut Sophie Said (Mons Records), the former student of Walter Norris and Kenny Werner has been treating fans of modern lyrical piano jazz of the Bill Evans variety to a new trio CD every three years, all of which have met with high critical acclaim. The Goethe Institute sent the trio on tour through the Baltic States, the Middle East, and to Canada, although von der Goltz is still considered to be an insider tip. While his trio partners have changed over the years, he always plays with highly accomplished instrumentalists prominent on the Berlin and New York jazz scenes. From CD to CD, von der Goltz has allowed himself more and more room for his own compositions.
Complicated Stories (With No End) consists entirely of his own songs; beautiful titles like Ariadnefaden (Ariadne’s Thread), Milchstrasse (Milky Way), and Karusselfahrt(Carousel Ride) offer an initial taste of the music’s character, which oscillates between visually evocative and song-like, develops from the unique and often catchy themes and motifs, savors the melodies, and then plunges them into impressionistically colored harmonies in alternating rhythms, which extend from swing to groove (Praise) to graceful, waltz-like jazz (Karusselfahrt). This calls for sensitive partners and not mere accompaniment, and Paul Imm and Heinrich Köbberling are an excellent choice. They can think their way into the music and know how to bring in their own ideas, both in the ensemble as a whole and as soloists. Berthold Klostermann, April 2006