Live review

Paul Zauner and Carlton Holmes in Passau, Germany

Paul Zauner and Carlton Holmes
(Gotischen Langhaus Niedernburg, Passau. 21 September 2019. Review by Oliver Weindling)

Carlton Holmes and Paul Zauner. iPhone snap by Oliver Weindling

A duo has a great sense of intimacy and the best manage to draw each member of the audience into feeling that they are joining in the conversation. So it was the case for this gig by Carlton Holmes on piano with trombonist Paul Zauner. The musicians framed by a Gothic portal in a former convent in Passau, they played together with a gusto and a mutual awareness that created a real sense of fun. Zauner, in particular, played with a relaxed power that we don’t always experience in larger line-ups. It was home territory for both. Holmes spends much of the summer in Passau, and Zauner’s own Inntöne Festival takes place just 20 kilometres away in Diersbach.

There was a real sense of classicism in this concert – as well as a prelude by Chopin, there was a version of Nessun Dorma by Puccini, and Holmes managed to slip in an extended reference to the fugue of a late Beethoven sonata! But none of this seemed out of place. At different times, we either had Zauner holding the duo allowing Holmes to explore unusual avenues, or Holmes vamping to let rip.

The joy of the recital also came from a very personal choice of tunes. Hymn The Old Rugged Cross looks to Holmes’s regular Sunday concerts in a church in New York. Meanwhile, three Abdullah Ibrahim tunes probably show the maestro’s influence following a wondrous solo set from him at his last Inntöne Festival., while David Murray’s Obe shows the regular touring and recording relationship which Zauner and Murray have rebuilt over the past few years after a 20-year pause.

Blue Brass featuring David Murray, Paul Zauner play the Vortex (22 November) as part of EFG London Jazz Festival.

Blue Brass ft. David Murray, Paul Zauner. (PAO Recordings, 2019)

Categories: Live review

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