Alexander Schimmeroth (p), Matt Penman (b), Jeff Ballard (d)
Bar code: 8427328422130
This album shows 32 year old Alex Schimmeroth's debut as the leader of his own Trio. Alex moved from his native Cologne, Germany to New York in 1999 to relax a little beat. He was granted a scholarship from DAAD, which enabled him to get his masters of music degree in New York in 2001. Since then he has been playing and composing music there. Alex has played, worked and recorded among others with David Liebman, John Ruocco, Michael Brecker and Ron Carter.
"Mr. Alex Schimmeroth is one of the finest young jazz musicians today. His musicianship and talent as a pianist are outstanding and as a composer, his skills merit special attention."
- Ron Carter
"We live in a time where immediate results are paramount. If a movie doesnt go blockbuster in its first weekend, its considered a failure. There was actually a time when a film could gain its audience graduallysometimes over a period of monthsand become a sleeper hit. Similarly with television: if a show doesnt garner strong ratings in the first few episodes, its head falls on the chopping block. Its not unreasonable to believe that Seinfeld, which suffered a lukewarm response during its first two seasons, wouldnt stand a chance today.
And so the parallel with young musicians coming onto the scene today. Without a strong hook for marketing machines to grab onto, as they have found for artists including the Bad Plus or E.S.T., what chance does a young player have with the ever-increasing number of independent labels flooding the market with new work? And what of the pressure on young performers to produce from the get-go, whereas in past decades there has been an environment of mentoring, where up-and-comers work with and learn from well-established artists?
The answer to the first question is that, fortunately, there are labels like Fresh Sound New Talent, which has largely devoted itself to bringing attention to emerging artists. Over the course of the past ten years, the label has developed a reputation that has engendered a certain degree of brand loyalty; if its on Fresh Sound, it must, at least, be worth checking out. Fresh Sound is where artists including pianist Brad Mehldau, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and even the Bad Plus got their start.
And so, with the release of pianist Alexander Schimmeroths debut, Arrival, Fresh Sound once again brings another new artist to the fore. Unassuming, without any kind of shtick, Schimmeroth is, quite simply, a fine young pianist with an elegant touch, a refined sense of swing, and a refreshingly modern approach to the mainstream. Five original compositions demonstrate the kind of thinking that, like west coast pianist Alan Pasqua on his new release, My New Old Friend, hides more challenging constructs within an easy-on-the-ears approach. Schimmeroth also covers three well-heeled standards, bringing an intriguing new complexion to Oscar Pettifords Bohemia After Dark. On this tune Schimmeroth shows his true mettle, reworking the head with the kind of across-the-bar mentality that makes it almost impossible to find the downbeat until the trio settles into the relaxed swing of the solo section.
Bassist Matt Penman, another Fresh Sound artist, and drummer Jeff Ballardarguably one of the more inventive drummers to emerge in the past ten years and best known for his work with pianist Chick Coreacreate a backdrop that both supports and challenges Schimmeroth, who is a lyrical, thematically-minded soloist.
And so, in these times of instant gratification, will Schimmeroth survive? Its too early to tell, but clearly, if given the time, he has the raw materials to evolve into a player and composer of some significance."
- John Kelman, All About Jazz
"Arrival marks the debut of German pianist Alexander Schimmeroth as a leader, and based on this album, he appears to be a budding individualist and a stimulating, thoughtful, even witty improviser.
Schimmeroth's approach can be deceptive. With his nuanced touch and manner of voicing chords, he sounds much like a capable, albeit not especially distinctive Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett acolyte. But there's that jabbing at a single note on Bohemia After Dark, and the way he turns the beat around on Rhythm, and Schimmeroth's approach begins to gel. He plays as if he is fascinated with Monk. To my ears, then, he is investigating Monk's ideas of phrasing, space, and thematic improvising. And by filtering these ideas through some Bill Evans devices and his own sensibilities, he is developing an approach that could have interesting, even important, implications for the future of jazz piano.
Hear, for example, Schimmeroth's excellent It's You Or No One solo. The light touch is there, along with firm, if understated swing, but Schimmeroth doesn't toss off fireworks. He airs out his phrases without losing momentum. On Rhythm, his clever variant of rhythm changes, he plays peek-a-boo with the beat, turning it around, playing with it, then digging in for some cooking. This trio doesn't burn, actually, but it keeps things moving at a steady simmer.
At all times on Arrival, the trio is together, sounding like a band. Matt Penman is one of those gifted bassists who plays stimulating melodies while walking. The way his lines entwine with Schimmeroth's on the pianist's lovely waltz Song is especially intuitive and supportive. And drummer Jeff Ballard plays at his usual high level, in which everything he does feels right.
I don't think Alexander Schimmeroth has completed his growth as a musician. At times, his ideas don't flow and sound a bit disjointed. But if I'm right about what he's doing, and I hope I am, then he's going to be well worth watching."
- Marc Meyers, All About Jazz
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