Monday, December 11, 2006

Wolfgang Haffner's Jazz-Rock Concert in Bangalore

December brings with it pictures of cool weather and is the season of musical extravaganza unique to Bangalore.Lovers of pure music and dance of both forms classical and modern soak themselves in the culturally intense atmosphere of Bengalooru Habba , the annual celebration of melody. The common citizens breathe music and probably eat music too,to last them for a whole year before they get another dose. You may ask "Eat Music" ? Eating is an important part of the fun.Hopping from one venue to another,tasting the different flavours of music.A feeling of bonhomie is in the air. Bangalore,which is home to maximum number of NRI’s,citizens and visitors from around globe along with its own population of simple smart people always has a great taste for fine music.

The Wolfgang Haffner Group’s jazz-rock concert on December 8, 2006 at the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall to a full house music aficionados was a living example. This was the only international event at the Bengalooru Habba.

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Haffner’s idea behind his creations is to produce music with lots of air, lots of space. The music he played was not primarily the music of a great drummer, it was the music of a great musician. And neither he nor his musical partners felt the need to impress with their soloing skills, there was no flexing of muscles but there was perfect synchronization. This left room for development that nurtures interest and tension as Haffner told the crowd that next time he performs in Bangalore, he would try to rectify his mistakes and errors. That’s the modesty and the attitude of a musical charmer, an artist.

All the compositions were by Haffner himself. They showed his affinity for melodies that linger. The themes were lyrical and accessible. At times a bass hook would implant itself in the listener’s mind and feet. The compositions that enthralled the crowd included “Blue Bar”, a light beach song played to fine tunes conjuring the image of breathing the salty air wafting in from the sea, the refined track “Silent Way”, a take characterized by a calm, lyrical beauty, that is all the more moving for its simplicity. Haffner’s compositions let the players immerse themselves in the music with seeming ease, and effortlessly drew in the listener. The musical assortment had lounge-jazz, romantic somber tunes and hugely energetic jugalbandi of drums and guitar too. With his quartet, Haffner played groove based music, a smooth interaction between bass and drums to produce clear rhythmic motives. Haffner proved his versatility by using the drums to produce a range of percussive styles, including Latin rhythms.

“Blue Bar” my conceptualization of the mood with camera.
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Keyboards and programming were an integral part of the show and lent it an aura that is strongly characterized by electronics. There were some pre-produced elements to the music – a synth line here, an atmospheric background there - and Haffner gave himself lots of time for the mix. Haffner’s integrity as composer and bandleader gave the numbers an organic feel. Haffner is shortly releasing his new album titled "Shapes" in which the band celebrates a kind of contemporary jazz rock, which is more like dance music, influenced by hip-hop, trip hop (a kind of sound deconstruction) and by the Norwegian scene.

Haffner on drums
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Undoubtedly, Wolfgang Haffner is one of the most prominent of the new generation of German jazz musicians. Above all, Haffner is an internationalist, a German globetrotter in the matter of drums and jazz having performed around the world, such as Montreux, Paris, Chicago, Los Angeles, Berlin, Vienna, San Diego, Geneva, Amsterdam, Nice, Stockholm, Madrid, Oslo, Zurich, London. He has toured more than 50 countries. He has recorded with a range of illustrious American artists from Michael Franks to Gato Barbieri besides featuring extensively with US stars including Pat Metheny, Michael and Randy Brecker, Mike Stern and Joe Sample, Lalo Schifrin, Cassandra Wilson and Billy Cobham, and singer Chaka Khan (1994-95). He has joined other artists in about 350 albums and has eleven in his own name.

"A band is a team and must act as one," says Wolfgang Haffner about his new quartet. For him it has to be an avowed bunch of musicians. Now with four people, Sebastian Studnitzky on the trumpet and keyboards, Frank Kuruc on guitars, Christian Diener on bass and Haffner himself.

The members of Haffner’s quartet fit in with the present-day image of the professional German jazz musician, all of them have studied at the top college for jazz—the Berklee College of Music.

Sebastian Studnitzky, played a rare combination of trumpets and keyboards. He studied film music in Berklee after having studied trumpet and piano (jazz and pop) in Stuttgart. He has his own ensemble, Triband, and, together with Haffner, often travels with the Canadian jazz-rock group, Mezzoforte.
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Studnitzky on trumpets.

Christian Diener graduated from Berklee with honors in electronic and contrabass. Since 1999, he has been a lecturer for music theory and double bass at the College of Music in Nuremburg. His international experiences range from playing with Billy Cobham and Randy Brecker to Albert Mangelsdorff and Klaus Doldinger.

Frank Kuruc initially studied classical guitar in Stuttgart (he graduated in 1987) before spending two years in Berklee. Kuruc is professor at the College of Music in Mannheim (department of jazz and pop) and, of all the quartet members, probably has the most practical experience with different styles; he has played with Mikis Theodorakis, with Katia and Marielle Labeque as well as in various symphony orchestras.
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On left is Diener and on right is Kuruc.

It was a perfect team, which had no difficulty in shifting its focus from jazz where the spotlight is on improvisation and solo playing, to the so-called club culture where the music is more rhythmic, repeats formulas and the groove comes into the foreground.

"Be who you are, and play what you like - this is the underlying, simple yet radical driving force in the band."

The event was conducted with due support from Goethe Institut ,Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore. The end result was explosive, as the concert promised. Jazz music does lend itself to festive improvisation, openness, humor, non-conformity and adventure and the crowd had oodles of these for sure. Even after the show got over after two hours of non-stop music, the band performed again beyond the scheduled time on public demand. My single word to describe the performance:"ethereal". More pics here.

Prior to this the group has already performed in Karachi,Delhi,Mumbai,Chennai starting 28th Nov'06. This concert was part of the South Asian leg of the promotional tour of their new album "Shades". Check out for the shows in Hyderabad on 10th Dec'06,in Dhaka on 12th Dec'06 and in Kolkata on 13th Dec'06.

Watch Wolfgang Haffner's performance @ Musikmesse Frakfurt 2006.

Visit the official site of the Haffner here.

Cross posted at Desicritics.

Keep reading and remain connected.

(Note : This post is for a person DrRn who was not in B'lore for the show.)


At 11:55 AM, Blogger Rekha said...

How did u manage the last photo in the album(Blue bar..)?!!
Except for a blur here n there,the photos can be given 4 a press release :-)

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Russell said...

Haffner was in Dhaka too. You can read my blog entry about it :)

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At 4:03 PM, Blogger Esteban Novillo said...

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