2014 WhyPlayJazz (RS013), CD + MP3 Album Download
Peter Ehwald (ts), Stefan Schultze (p)
All Tracks recorded on 1st & 2nd of October 2012 by Christian Heck at Loft, Cologne, Germany. Mixed and mastered by Christian Heck at tonart-studio, Kerpen-Horrem, Germany.
The musicians Stefan Schultze and Peter Ehwald share a long and productive friendship. Together they make music in ensembles like “schultzing” and “Oktoposse” and founded the “Backyard Jazz Orchestra”. “Grasp” is their debut album as a duo and the obvious consequence of their common musical work.
Over the years, they have explored their compositional possibilities in many ways. With “Grasp” they now turn to simplicity. Homage to the naturalness auf making music together, it at the same time gives them great freedom of artistic expression.
The album is a clear statement. Ehwald‘s earthy saxophone sound meets Schultze‘s surprising harmonic turns. Together they form an authentic substrate on “Grasp”. Plenty of openness and a lack of pretentiousness result in appealing arcs of suspense. The listener follows the music in various directions: It is the many overtones, the ceasing of the moment and the subtle nuances that turn the album into a fascinating journey.
The six compositions of the album “Grasp” are clearly structured. They are rich in emotions and always direct. No tone is wasted. The duo explores its possibilities of expression with a reliable sense of style. In doing so, it becomes apparent that Schultze and Ehwald enjoy listening to each other. They react to each other without taboos and remain alert to what might come next. This results in a harmonious and well-balanced force that is one of the greatest strengths of “Grasp”.
The fact that the album contains tracks made by two musicians who have known each other for a long time, who respect and appreciate each other, gives it a personal quality. Their selection of the compositions shows intuition. The music is based on common origins and emotions. Still every track develops into a different direction and surprises the listener with a variety of colors and moods. Ehwald and Schultze only need little changes to make a great statement.
Those who take a moment to think about the album cover and its concise title will already find part of this message here.
“Grasp” shows that virtuosity is distinguished not only by fast lines. The recording shows how the musicians react to each other virtuously and how they put each other on stage in the best manner. With their debut album, Stefan Schultze and Peter Ehwald do not only bear witness to their excellent playing technique but also prove their ability to engage in the moment again and again, identifying it and reacting to it. This is how they create a real work of art of improvised music.
The music is a wonderfully romantic / lyrical contemporary Jazz, very melodic but absolutely non-trivial. The tunes are masterfully woven by both composers, clearly a continuation of the European Classical Neoromanticism transferred into the Jazz idiom. There is also a certain elegant minimalism, which is manifested by the "less is more" approach, where the essential notes and chords are stated without much ornamentation.
The performances are similarly modest, crystal clear and stylishly beautiful, without a shade of unnecessary sweetness or overdue syrupy tendencies, which often characterize similar efforts. Ehwald has a gorgeous tenor saxophone tone, which is unmistakably top-class. Schultze displays wonderful dynamics in his usage of the piano, cleverly moving between the foreground as a soloist and the background as an accompanist. Most impressive of course is their work as a team, which is the essence of this album, being truly exemplary. This is clearly a team effort without any attempts to dominate, and as a result the listener is treated to a piece of music, which is both emotionally moving and intellectually intriguing.
This album is a classic example how melodic / romantic music can be artistic and ambitious, a complete antidote to the dreaded muzak of smooth Jazz, and as such deserves to become a scholarly model. Gentle souls and die-hard romantics like me will definitely have a field day with this music, as should most Jazz loving listeners. Wholeheartedly recommended!
In a year already dominated by duo releases, here’s one that you mustn’t overlook. [...] Six Haunting themes composed by the pair... four by Peter, two by Stefan. [...] The album is titled Grasp and is released on the WhyPlayJazz record label. And I suggest you grasp a copy when you can.
A fresh instrumental approach to the jazz/modern interface without taboos, without borders or reservations – quite an achievement with the six different pieces on the album. It requires patience and sometimes takes a little trust to follow. But how wonderful is it to finally be free of guitar riffs, computer generated beats, over-produced vocals and pimped up sounds. This is where one must listen attentively without waiting for climaxes, but accepting that music can also mean flow. No festooned climaxes. For those not easily satisfied: dig-in.
Voraussetzungen so eines innig nahes Zusammenspiels sind, dass man sich lange und gut kennt, damit man sich etwas zu erzählen hat. Beides trifft für Pianist Stefan Schultze und Tenorsaxofonist Peter Ehwald uneingeschränkt zu. Sie haben ihre Altvorderen inhaliert, um das Eingesogene in Eigenes verwandelt auszuatmen. Beim neuerdings enorm präsenten Ehwald geht es um nuancenreich und ungeschwätzig Schlüssiges, um durchdachte Kontrolliertheit, die in erdigem Ton, vitaler Dringlichkeit jenseits des Auftrumpfens und kompositorischer Ausgewogenheit wurzelt. Schultze ist genau der Richtige für spannende Dialoge mit ihm. In mehreren gemeinsamen Bands haben sie Beachtliches vorgelegt, sodass ihre Zweisamkeit auf innerer Logik ohne Kraftmeierei beruhen kann.
“Grasp”, (WhyPlayJazz RS013) is the translated mastery and powers of comprehension when both musicians directly respond and react to each other in half a dozen of their own compositions. Schultze’s stark approach is occasionally countered by more expressionistic episodes from Ehwald, which is by no means detrimental to the atmospheric environment, in fact, quite the contrary.
[…] the great art of musical togetherness […]. Their virtuoso instrumental abilities come through from the back seat. Because rather than using regular forms of expression, these two musicians are more interested in exploring unusual forms that they throw in into the fray ad hoc around improvisational processes that are completed and determined by melodies and harmonies.
Ehwald and Schultze have got it all. With excellent timing and a great sense of surprising harmonic turns they improvise throughout six of their own pieces.