Sensuous radiance of the soul
Three great jazz-individualists show the expanse of their colour palette: The new CD of the Christof Lauer Trio
It is hard to find an artist whose expressive quality rivals that of Christof Lauer. He has a unique ability to colour his tone; one moment he lets rip with the explosive intensity of a sandblaster, and in the next instant his sound has a pale and distant quality. Moreover, these changes are never used for sheer effect, they are rather the tonal expression of a subtle and varied emotional experience.
One thing is for sure: Very few musicians can offer as much intensity as Christof Lauer, as these recordings with his new trio aptly demonstrate. The flexibility of the fascinatingly matched partners and the scope of the compositions enable Lauer to express all aspects of his art in this new trio. German Lauer, Frenchman Michel Godard (who is not just a tuba player) and British drummer Gary Husband (who is not just a drummer) all contribute compositions to this CD of exclusively original material – pieces that open up a great variety of worlds. Each track offers new colours and tonal hues, held together by the authority of the three players.
This international ensemble of virtuoso musicians offers the added attraction that each musician plays two different instruments. Godard is a tuba player, but equally competent on the historical serpent, a slightly hoarse-sounding, snakelike exotic monster, a precursor to the ophiclieides made from wood covered in leather. Husband is an excellent drummer and a good pianist as well and Lauer’s playing on soprano and tenor sax is so different in character, that we may justifiably speak of two different instruments. A trio of numerous possibilities this is, as the eleven tracks on this CD show - music with driving rhythm, lyrical with an angular edge and suffused with a soulful and strangely foreign beauty.
Michel Godard’s ostinato tuba grooves leave their mark on some of the pieces – driving, bouncing lines that excite and casually demonstrate that he is endowed with quite a breath (Listen to track 1 “Un regalo per natale“!), as does the dark whisper of the serpent (track 5 “Suave sospiro” - “Sweet Sigh” - an apt title for the piece; composers of an earlier age, which found the sound of the serpent “too raw” just hadn’t had a chance to hear Godard). Gary Husband creates wide-open spaces in his rare but extensive piano introductions (tracks 5 and 9). As a drummer, partner and accompanist he is equally a master of space, characterized by his variety of colours, both with sticks and brushes, by his eruptive power and attention to fine detail. In “Pan fatigué” (track 3) – a tired god Pan whose musical seduction nonetheless permeates every reed – Godard and Husband let their leader demonstrate impressively that a solo saxophone sounds anything but dry when played by Lauer. In “The Kite” (track 2) the tenor sax sails higher and higher. Lauer’s playing continuously shows a sensuous radiance of the soul, even when he draws finely lyrical patterns with the soprano saxophone, patterns that develop a wholly different temperature than his lines on the lower instrument.
This team is all the more convincing because each of the three partners has ample room to show his profile. It is highly fascinating to watch these players grow into a whole and inspire each other. Their interaction is so alert that the playing sometimes seems to emanate from a single instrument. And it is continually exciting to follow their stories, whether they tell of sweet sighs, of slightly indisposed gods or of a kite winding higher and higher into the sky. Intensity, concision and abundance of surprise – three great qualities in a trio.