Vein – Vote for Vein!
(Unit Records. UTR 4453. CD Review by Eric Ford)
Unless you have another CD by Vein, I reckon you’re unlikely to have anything else in your collection that’s quite like this. In their moments of gleeful irreverence they might bring to mind a Swiss version of The Bad Plus, but there still seems to be affection for the style being parodied and there’s never any doubting the seriousness of the work these guys have put in individually and collectively. All members of the trio (brothers Michael Arbenz – piano – and Florian Arbenz – drums / Thomas Laehns – bass ) sound like they had excellent classical training and have played a lot of contemporary music, but yes they can and do swing! One of the joys of this band is its variety and creativity. It’s extraordinarily tight and ventures into some territory few other bands would attempt to explore, as well as playing conventional piano trio jazz with great panache. They’ve also collaborated, toured and recorded with Greg Osby, Dave Liebman and Glenn Ferris – this is a heavy band!
If you plan to buy the CD, you may want to look away now and come back in the next paragraph… As an example of the scope of this trio, check out the first track “Appearance and Speech”. Presumably satirising politicians’ election campaigns, there’s a hilarious “grand” entry which turns in a flash into a jerky mixed-meter ragtime over which bassist Thomas Lahns manages to solo fluidly. This morphs into a joyous Oscar Peterson trio-type romp but again in a meter-fest never heard from Oscar’s trio.
Subsequent tracks utilise tuned and untuned percussion – there is some multi-tracking of percussion and indeed of bass – and there’s a lot of bowed bass, which (as always) adds so much colour and texture. It grooves, it’s rubato, it’s subtle, it’s fun, it’s ruminative, it’s exultant; above all, it’s constantly surprising. It’s a treat.
Vein are at the Vortex in London this coming Thursday (April 24th) with guest GREG OSBY whom we interviewed last year – LINK HERE .