25 September 2009

Return to the source

It’s lovely to get back to some original acoustic modern jazz. In this case, the Martin Brunner Trio playing in the Agartha basement in Prague. This trio is a young group, but very capable and well trained. Martin, the pianist, at least, has classical training, and it shows in his bodily posture and how his hands respond to the instrument. My guess is other Martin, the bassist, is also classically trained. It showed in the compositions which I guessed were by martin piano, with richly formed heads with changing time signatures and pulsing chordal statements and feature unison tags appearing throughout the piece. Petr, the drummer, also composed some tunes but these were different in style and structure: more simple harmonically, but with some urgent, jumpy melody lines which were an obvious challenge.

The playing was in that style that I hear from Europe: flowing, gentle, thoughtful, romantic and pulsing rather than swinging. All three took solos, pretty equally for piano and bass, and perhaps less, but longer for drums. I heard the piano solos as heavy on chords and octaves and repeating sequences and classical flourishes, well informed and not simply running lines. The bass solos were especially melodic, finding paths through chord structures in the way that mainstream sax solos often do. I felt that Martin bass got restive with his effects towards the end of the night, but earlier on they were serving a solid and healthy tone that sat well in context. In fact, the whole band was ringing clear and at a lovely volume in the Agartha basement, with its rough walls and rounded space and small PA, which I think was only for announcements. Petr on drums was delightfully controlled and unobtrusive, providing the lightest of contrasting rhythmic accompaniment. But he also took solos which were precise and disciplined. But he could let go and I particularly enjoyed one longer solo against an ostinato backing. That’s often a feature for drummers. There was one tune where the style changed with the bass. Martin took up electric bass, and suddenly the band was flashier and bluesier but flatter and less dynamic, despite fast unison melodies and outspoken soloing. It was a bit of a surprise, I thought. Otherwise, I heard this band as distilled, with nothing out of place and nothing without a purpose.

But very much enjoyed, and the end to a busy night of jazz at three venues just a few steps apart. Martin Brunner (piano) led a trio with Martin Kapusnik (bass) and Petr Mikes (drums) at Agartha Jazz Club in Prague.

1 comment:

Tony Emmerson said...


If you're still in Prague and you are interested then please check out my site: www.praguejazz.blogspot.com

Feel free to contact me through there if you have any questions or thoughts.

Tony @ PJHQ