02 August 2015

Just friends

It's a measure of the sad state of music in this town that no one turned up for Raf Jerjen's workshop at Gary France's Groove Factory. Other than me. I was particularly interested because I couldn't get to the gig on Saturday night. Niels Rosendahl was to be playing with Raf's trio and this was very interesting. Raf and Niels are significant exports from the Music School in his heyday, although exported to very different parts. Niels went to Texas and a masters there; Raf went to Lucerne for his masters. I've yet to hear Niels, but Raf and his trio were outstanding. In a web of interactions, a mate Kate stayed with us for a wedding last weekend, and this turned out to be for Raf and Rachel. Circles within small worlds. So I was treated to a little concert of my own. I like it this way. Not formal, like a concert, but a blow by mates who play for and to themselves, exploring, playful but serious. They were testing the space for the later concert, setting up gear, doing a daily warmup, learning by ear. Gary has a Yamaha C6 on the stage and the best of drumming gear, so the visitors were indulged and obviously enjoyed it. At one stage, Gary replaced Samuel's ride cymbal saying "Like Elvin", apparently for the shape of the bell. Gary knows his percussion. So they started with All the things you are, and worked through originals and learned a pretty folk tune by ear and improvised and soloed all over and passed ideas with panache. This was not experimental or free - there was a deep sense of swing and groove here - but there was no lack of readiness to dissolve into floating passages or to move keys or play dissonance, but all done with great control and a lack of fret and a shared understanding. Nicely felt and well communicated. I loved it; I admired the chops and the ideas and especially the easy way they moved through difference. Raf is playing with loads of dexterity and some blistering lines but also with feel. Lukas, on piano, was a great pleasure, relaxed and expository but also exploratory. Samuel caught my attention with solos and some devilish polyrhythm s set in contrast the underlying grooves. It's such satisfying complexity. So, great to see Raf back and great to see his trio. They really are an impressive and satisfying listen. I didn't speak to Raf about staying down under but I guess this is just a visit, for a tour and a wedding and catching up with family. Shame. This is a very impressive band and Raf's a very impressive player.

The Jerjen Trio comprised Lukas Gernet (piano), Rafael Jerjen (bass) and Samuel Büttiker (drums). They played at Gary France's Groove Warehouse.

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