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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MICAHEL WOLLNY TRIO "Weltentraum" (Act Music)

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Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 5:00 am

The European jazz piano trio, recognized by its sensitivity, minimalism, and classical impressionist influences, has become something of a cliché. German pianist Michael Wollny's Weltentraum (from a line attributed to Mahler: "wir suchen den weltentraum" — "We search the dream world") is of this school yet is an offbeat exception. Wollny's play on tunes credited to Alban Berg, Edgard Varèse, and others has the attractive, dreamy quality that denotes European piano trios, but it also touches on a variety of recognizable approaches: ballads, blues, backbeat. Melodies are accessible; nothing is hard to follow. Yet nothing's played exactly straight either. The rhythms from drummer Eric Schaefer often stagger, and embellishments fall where you don't expect them. Schaefer's snare accents on "Be Free, a Way" seem to work at a slightly faster tempo than the piano. Tim Lefebvre's bass serves as a dependable anchor, pulsing behind the considered chords and off-time accents of "Lasse!" and going gutbucket on "In Heaven." The results can be heard on two levels: as warm, melodic readings or as a rhythmically quirky challenge to the same old thing. The last song, "God Is a DJ," with guest Theo Bleckmann's vocal and with humming electronics, is different in other ways. It's a bit of Aquarian fluff with its Eastern influences and third-eye references. Not what you'd expect from a European piano trio.

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