Thursday, August 22, 2013

Daktari - I Travel Within My Dreams With A German Passport (2013) ****

Daktari (band)

Olgierd Dokalski - trumpet
Mateusz Franczak - tenor saxophone
Tomi Simatupang - guitar
Miron Grzegorkiewicz - guitar
Maciej Szczepański - bass
Robert Alabrudziński - drums

I Travel Within My Dreams With A German Passport (2013)

By Dirk Blasejezak

The good news first: the Polish-German relations won’t be negatively affected by this album. When I heard the title of the record for the first time, I was actually concerned that the whole thing would be a nightmare. After all, I suspect that still many Polish feel at least uneasy about us Germans. But this album might suggest that there is maybe less bias among the younger Polish population.

The next irritation I had when looking at the cover: The album shows a passport of the former GDR - I assume that the musicians will get much trouble on every border they come to in their dreams...

And there’s something more German about the album, as it was recorded at the Butterama Recording Center in Berlin in November 2012. Shortly after that sessions Daktari had an interesting appearance at the Berlin Jazz Festival, where I saw them for the first time.

But then there is an inconsistency - Rutger Hauer is Dutch, but during his career he had to play for a number of times the blond and blue-eyed German so we can probably count him in as well...

What I musically noticed at the first glance were the two guitars. I usually don’t like the sound of jazz guitar in particular, so I was pretty skeptical at first with even two guitars here. But it works, and actually pretty good! The reason is probably that the guitars are in most jazz recordings mixed very soft and clear, but not here. Furthermore they do not try to get in the foreground too much, but rather create a whimsical background. A jiggling frame - partially inclined or even strenuous, but enthralling. Along with the drums and the bass this creates the framework in which trumpet and saxophone can let off steam. Interestingly, it is not only the lead instruments that unfold freely, but the whole band is in a permanent joint improvisation, which can not be described as free jazz though. The interaction works on a level that you would not expect from musicians of this young age!

Adding to that the record offers some very nice riffs that almost invite to hum, a thing that one rarely encounters in contemporary jazz. Some harmonies I would rather expect in pop or rock music (e.g. "Eine kleine Weltschmerz"). Particularly nice melodies you find in the first song (“Little Hollow”) and in the title track, which is found in two versions on the disk. I particularly like the first version of "I travel within my dreams with a German passport", since it provides something special: There are various electronic sounds included, that give the music a lot of momentum and dynamics. Just compare this version with the alternative take of this song or with the other songs on the record to see how well electronics can fit to jazz. Maybe this might be a way for Daktari, I can only recommend it to them, as they have a good attitude towards it. A bit surprising for me is the fact that the trumpet and the saxophone are on that version clear - you can say acoustically too. Certainly, they form an interesting counterpoint to the distorted instruments and the synthetic supplements, but I’d have liked some more experimentation here a lot. But I know as well as anyone else interested in that field of jazz, were the musicians try to integrate electronica into classic jazz, how hard that is and how narrow the ridge is where the musician (and producers) stroll along - they could have, just for "safety reasons", called this version the alternative take then.

But also in this respect I find this album more than pleasant! Perhaps because the musicians are still very young and approach the subject impartially, you find no reservation. One senses that it can work out if young people blend the music of their time with jazz. Exactly this kind of albums make me feel confident that jazz has a future - a future where we will not only have to listen to the standards from the American Songbook over and over again or watch musicians in a wild cacophony (as much as I like that too though).

This record is fun, it is exciting without being exhausting and it is catchy without becoming boring at any time. Definitely a recommendation!

(Editor) In case you want to buy this record please write at: daktaripl@gmail.com

The promo video for this record (also from an East German film):

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this news. Hopefully waiting for some positive changes due to this new initiative.

    ReplyDelete

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