Mosaic Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr
- 1Aki Puh03:58
- 5Hymnus Varus06:48
- 7Never Hold Back03:26
- 8Smells Like Teen Spirit06:03
- 11Target II06:05
Info for Mosaic
“Mosaic”. The Wasserfuhr brothers, Julian (trumpet) and Roman (piano) explain the title: “It fits in with our musical processes of the past two years. Despite a huge variety in the individual pieces - and also in the emotions associated with them - and even though we have chosen a wide range of musicians and friends to record this music with, the whole album nevertheless forms a coherent picture. It has emerged from our experiences, conversations and encounters with people during this time." "Mosaic" has also been pieced together from places a long way apart: from the Wasserfuhrs’ studio in peaceful Hückeswagen, the small town to the North-East of Cologne where the two brothers, who have always stayed close, grew up and still have their base, to Nashville where they worked (virtually) alongside a dozen other musicians. There is a kaleidoscope of different moods here, including a rap song and a homage to Kurt Cobain...
The Corona pandemic gave the Wasserfuhrs the space and the time for good things to happen. The Colombian philosopher Nicolás Gómez Dávila has said that “if we want something to endure, we strive for beauty, not for efficiency." and the idea of taking the time to explore new things was very much on the brothers' minds during this time. They made sure they took the time "to reflect on the world, society, authenticity, friendship and family", as they say. It proved fruitful: "In the past two years we have written 42 compositions," Julian still marvels, and "Mosaic" is the distillation of all this creative activity – a time in which they have also found new and invigorating stylistic directions...
There is luxury casting in the rhythm section which is to be heard on four of the tracks here – a fact that no shortage of rock stars would gladly corroborate: bassist Tim Lefebvre, whom fans of the Wasserfuhr brothers will already know from the album "Landed in Brooklyn", has played with David Bowie, Elvis Costello and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. He is here alongside his fellow American, drummer Keith Carlock, a Nashville resident who has played with Steely Dan and Toto. Contact and travelling restrictions made it impossible for most of the musicians to be present in the same studio, so a lot of the music came to the Wasserfuhrs’ home studio via remote recording. From there, a remarkable process of creation got under way: "First we recorded most of the songs ourselves with all the instruments. The musicians could then mute their tracks and make their own contribution. This input, in turn, had an effect on the other parts, which we then adapted and re-recorded," says Roman. This was ‘call and response’ in the best jazz sense, and that is the reason why "Mosaic" sounds quite so organic and so full of life, that it sounds like a recording session where everyone is together in the same space. There were exceptional cases where this did prove possible: cellist Jörg Brinkmann, was able to drop by and record at the Wasserfuhrs’ studio.
There are pieces on “Mosaic” written with specific musicians in mind. "Forward" is inspired by Pat Metheny's album "From This Place". Thinking about who might have the sound they wanted, the brothers remembered guitarist Vitaliy Zolotov with whom they had studied in Cologne, but had had no contact with for 10 years. "Hymnus Varus" with Jörg Brinkmann as soloist revisits their collaboration in "Relaxin' in Ireland; here it is in an XL version for sextet. The driving groove number "Target II", on the other hand, is based on a beat by Keith Carlock, which the Wasserfuhr brothers discovered in a YouTube video. Social media such as YouTube were a focus for the brothers during the long domestic isolation of the pandemic: "That's how we came across the rapper Harry Mack from LA, an incredible freestyle rapper. So we just asked him and he agreed to do "Never Hold Back". Later it emerged that he had originally been a jazz drummer. "It’s just right, isn't it?" asks Roman.
The two tenor saxophonists on "Mosaic", Paul Heller and Tony Lakatos, are also right for the Wasserfuhr sound. Martin Scales, the guitarist from Doldingers Passport is also an old acquaintance, appearing here for the first time on an album with the Wasserfuhrs. Finally, there are two tracks that honour heroes who have passed away: "Hank", derived from the name of Charles Bukowski's literary alter ego, comes with a breezy New Orleans groove, setting the dissolute German-American cult writer’s love of life to music. And quite a few Nirvana fans are going to be surprised by this slowed-down version of the grunge classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
“Mosaic”, then, in place of a single unvarying concept, represents a cleverly conceived sequence of varying timbres and vistas, and yet the individual and authentic voices of the Wasserfuhr brothers are never absent for a moment. The compositions give room for manoeuvre, musical ideas develop in a way which makes time flow naturally, the pieces are akin to the entries in a diary. There are meetings with acquaintances old and new, near and far. Whereas the production process was both elaborate and unusual, "Mosaic", considered together, is a remarkably coherent entity. It is an album to celebrate the joy of making music together.
Julian Wasserfuhr, trumpet
Roman Wasserfuhr, piano, keyboards
Tim Lefebvre, bass
Keith Carlock, drums
Harry Mack, vocals
Markus Schieferdecker, bass
Oliver Rehmann, drums
Tony Lakatos, tenor saxophone
Paul Heller, tenor saxophone
Martin Scales, guitar
Vitaliy Zolotov, guitar
Jörg Brinkmann, cello
Axel Lindner, violin, viola
Sebastiaan Cornelissen, drums
After their debut album Remember Chet (2006), on which the then 17-year-old trumpeter Julian Wasserfuhr followed in Chet Baker's footsteps, the Wasserfuhr brothers grew into an exceptional phenomenon on the German jazz scene. Such incredible and astonishing maturity had not been heard in a young trumpeter. Equally impressive was the way his only older brother Roman accompanied him on the piano in a near symbiotic way. The trumpeter Manfred Schoof once said.
"A career begins with imitation," and the brothers have devoted themselves to their heroes at this early stage of their career, because only when you're familiar with the jazz tradition is it possible to create your own oeuvre.
By playing numerous concerts the Wasserfuhrs quickly reached a broad audience and gained acclaim on the scene. Therefore, it is rather obvious why their second album was called Upgraded (2009) - from the provinces into the international jazz stage. Having recorded with jazz stars Nils Landgren and Lars Danielsson in Gothenburg, they put aside the label "Young German Jazz" and entered the major league of German jazz.
Their new album is called Gravity. It deals with the importance of staying grounded when your career starts to take off. It is about overcoming gravity - the ground beneath your feet has to be firm and steady for you to lift off. The Wasserfuhrs are again in the company of world class musicians - the master of melodic bass from Sweden, Lars Danielsson, is joining them for the second time and the most sought-after drummer in Germany, Wolfgang Haffner, for the first. These two form a superb rhythm section and prove to be the perfect choice - like the Wasserfuhrs they are also keen on jazz that is carried by emotion, full of details and sonic beauty. With his fine sense of drama and atmosphere, Haffner was also the natural choice to be the producer of Gravity. He acknowledges the talent of the Wasserfuhr brothers thus: "Despite the fact that their career has just started, they both know exactly how they want their music to sound. Working together on Gravity was really inspiring and productive."