Album reviews

Tilo Weber – ‘Tesserae’

Tilo Weber – Tesserae

(WeJazz Records – Album review by Peter Slavid)

Jazz on the harpsichord isn’t unknown, but it is quite rare, and it makes for a very distinctive sound. McCoy Tyner’s “Trident” is the only example I can recall from the recent past, although I know there have been others. On this album we not only get Austrian pianist Elias Stemeseder on harpsichord, but also on celesta and synths. Meanwhile the band leader and composer, German drummer Tilo Weber, who won last year’s German Jazz Prize (Deutscher Jazzpreis), also plays vibraphone. Swedish bass player Petter Eldh also plays acoustic guitar. A real multinational and multi-instrumental album.

These three were the basis of the band Y-OTIS led by Otis Sandsjö, but this is a very different sound. In developing his music for the trio, Weber was keen to do something different from the standard piano trio format. He certainly achieves that here, and in addition there’s the impressive flute and alto of Anna-Lena Schnabel on a couple of tracks and the Ney of Bastian Duncker on another.

Part of the pleasure of this album is the fascinating variety of sounds all coming within a firmly avant-garde jazz context. With all these interesting and slightly unusual sounds there’s a risk that you get distracted from the actual music, and at first that does happen, as the album opens with a track dominated by the harpsichord. As an instrument that is supposed to be unexpressive it manages to be both melodic and melancholy at first, and then sparkles over some powerful playing from Eldh and Stemesder..

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By the time we get towards the end of the album the track Sacre Sacre sees the trio slide into the background as the delicious flute of Schnabel takes the lead. The final track sees her joined by Duncker on Ney.

This is an interesting and complex trio album with an unusual sound, and some outstanding soloing, and it repays multiple listens. It would also be interesting to hear more of the larger group.

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on and various internet stations


LINK: Tesserae on Bandcamp

Categories: Album reviews, Reviews

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