Zentralquartett 11 Songs — Aus Teutschen Landen

We all know that the origins of American jazz came largely out of the root of blues. We also know that many cultures have contributed to this form. The one thing I, for one, did not expect was an album of jazz that was based on 12th century German Volksleider’s art folk songs. These songs are about life and have had a tendency to morph into various forms over the centuries; polkas, marches and Klezmer come to mind. Now we have a quartet of improvisers taking this form and generally having a party with it. Conrad Bauer, Ulrich Gumpert, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and Günter Sommer are masterful in their arranging and playing skills. Sombre marches melt into African grooves that crumble apart in aggressive free playing in a somehow thoughtful and logical manner. This is not to say that the music is cold — quite the opposite in fact. The thing that sets this CD apart from a lot of music that crosses my path is the joy, humanity and sense of humour that pervades. No eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head trance jams and no dry academic opinions, just a folk/free jazz romp into the German spirit — you know, the one that doesn’t make it into the tired stereotype category. (Intakt)