Daniel Erdmann_tenor sax
Theo Ceccaldi_viola & violin
NEW CD: Won’t Put No Flag Out at BMC Records, 10/2019
You can pre-listen to the album on Orchard Promo Player
It has been almost three years since the release of the debut album A Short Moment Of Zero G. Since then the German-French-British trio has received much attention from the media and the public. The CD received a Jazz Echo prize and the annual prize of German record critics. The jury of this prize wrote among other things: “A touch of cool swing, the joy of pointillist sound and unexpected twists and sound spots infuse through the eleven tracks. This ‘velvet revolution’ creates what the album title promises: short moments of weightlessness.” The band toured through Europe, triumphed at festivals in London, Paris, Munster, Amman, Belgrade as well as in many renowned jazz clubs, such as Unterfahrt in Munich, Dynamo in Paris, Domicil Dortmund and many more.
The critics’ praise extends just as far. Ralf Dombrowski wrote in Stereoplay: „This is fine narrative art with a lot of freedom of association for the listener“ and Beate Sampson, BR Klassik, stated: “It is atmospheric and intense in an extremely cautious way: How the three musicians evolve around atmospheres and themes, play around in fluid change, illuminate the foreground and background of the music. “Norbert Krampf commented in the FAZ:” Their enthusiasm and closely interwoven interaction are a pleasure, the combination of high art, vitality and fine humor succeeds as an example. All three of them balance on the tightrope of the free but never exuberant imagination.
Velvet Revolution continues its path consequently with the new album. All pieces were composed by Daniel Erdmann especially for this formation and the individual sound of their virtuoso members. So the personal qualities and expressive strengths can shine even more clearly. Erdmann’s sensitive tenor saxophone playing, rich in color, sometimes even blazing, has already been widely recognized and awarded in connection with his other bands (such as Das Kapital). Théo Ceccaldi is also celebrated outside of France as a brilliant new talent of the violin and as a young icon of the great French jazz violin tradition. Also in his own bands Ceccaldi captivates as a great violinist who captures the audience. Jim Hart, resident in Alsace for some years and noticed among others in the band of Marius Neset before playing with Velvet Revolution, has recently become involved with West African rhythms and Balafon or Gyil traditions in Ghana. This experience also shines through on some tracks of the trio.
Thanks to the concerts of recent years, Velvet Revolution interact even more intuitively today. . Many details of the compositions are now formulated in the studio collectively. Additional impulses came from the temporary extension to the quartet named Velvet Jungle, with Cyril Atef or Samuel Rohrer on drums and electronic equipment. The hand-picked concerts of this quartet have intensified the rhythmic qualities of the trio.
Erdmann’s new pieces reflect on personal themes such as in Bring Me Moon, refer to films or literature, such as Kaurismaki’s “The Clouds are passing”, Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” and “The Expulsion from Hell” by Robert Menasse. And even while Erdmann’s husky saxophone sound sometimes seems to take root in the blues, tunes like “Justine, Again” or “Abstract Love Song” are all influenced by 20th century European art music. Then again “Give The Soul Some Rest” is dedicated to Ngoni master Moriba Koita from Mali, with whom Erdmann worked in Paris. In this tune a West-African motif surprisingly meets an unorthodox imitation of a Bach chorale.
Won´t Put No Flag Out combines compositional wit and personal expression, immediately identifiable sound and attitude. Erdmann, Ceccaldi and Hart honor their band name Velvet Revolution and provide great fun for a very heterogeneous, stylistically open minded audience.
Daniel Erdmann, active as a member and coleader of many bands, had the sound of this trio in his ear, and looked for and finally found the musicians who would allow the inner sound to become a reality. Here is a band that totally bears his stamp, that of the tenor saxophonist andcomposer. At the same time, in the ensemble playing there is lots of leeway for the participants. Music of this kind is about freedom, about the freedom to improvise in relation to the composition, freedom of feeling, thinking, and desire.
What initially makes you sit up and take notice and draws you in, is the gesture, the closeness to speech, the narrative and rhapsodical manner. Daniel Erdmann’s pieces are compact, sometimes even complex, and within their forms the participants can roam freely. The themes – in both the musical and the intellectual sense – form the frame of reference. Daniel Erdmann is a self-confessed melodist. And this is often much harder than hiding yourself behind a material exegesis, because the ideas and the statements have to be strong. In this skein of voices with violin, viola and vibraphone, he weaves together a trio that makes it possible to for the parts to share rhythmic or harmonic aspects, to cross over or develop one another.
French violinist Théo Ceccaldi contributes something from the grand French string tradition, as well as jazz references and something very contemporary: he can wallow in melody, but also provide abstract, percussive action. Daniel Erdmann knows Jim Hart from a visit to London, where the vibraphonist, who now lives in Colmar, was one of the cofounders of Loop Collective. With its luminous sound, the vibraphone reinforces the chamber music like magic of the trio. Jim Hart, who also profiles himself as a drummer, brings with him precisely that rhythmic competence that here enables him to dispense with drums, brilliantly. The trio is a typically international band – like so many lineups in which Daniel Erdmann is active. There is no proclamatory intent behind this, simply the everyday reality and the tendency of this type of European jazz to make distances and borders seem increasingly irrelevant.
Daniel Erdmann’s Velvet Revolution is free from intent, the desire to illustrate, although it does contain a number of allusions. The music draws from the confrontation with reality and bubbles from the imagination. It has something poetic and something anecdotal; something picturesque and something abstract. You don’t need to know what the titles have to do with the pieces when the sounds speak for themselves.
Daniel Erdmann’s Velvet Revolution with French violinist extraordinaire Théo Ceccaldi and English percussion master Jim Hart (here solely on vibraphone) is a happy meeting of three kindred spirits and a tonal specialty. Theo Ceccaldi is one of the strongest, most dazzling and fanciful musicians of the younger French generation. As a ubiquitous musician he has made a strong mark. If the question “what connects German composer Hanns Eisler, Free Jazz, French musette and dub reggae?” arises, the answer no doubt will be saxophonist Daniel Erdmann from Germany, living and working now in France as well as in Berlin. He made a name with German-French-Danish group Das Kapital and worked in numerous highly profiled European groups. Jim Hart played an important role in the London LOOP collective and has made his mark in the British scene. He is now residing in France and found his allies in Velvet Revolution. Velvet Revolution is a true European group with a strong spirit, wit, great musical ideas as well as fantasy and capacity to make it work in captivating ways.
It’s not only the combination of instruments that is unique. The same applies to the playing. Fed by many sources, they act independently and together at the same time. They know what to play when, and how to arrive at a strong common theme, something that carries them along the predisposed into the imagined-in-the-moment. They are great at creating shifting atmospheres. It is heavy, then light again, firing at one moment and whispering the next. These and other remarkable qualities were accomplished in a cool hot way, brilliant and convincing right from the start of their 30 minute turn—a group with a strong European signature and the capacity to ignite something special for its audience. Velvet Revolution’s latest album A Short Moment Of Zero G was released by the exquisite BMC label of Budapest Music Center. Henning Bolte, All about jazz
But it is not only Erdmann’s concise compositions, specially designed for this trio, that give his band “Velvet Revolution” a striking charism. Thanks to their individual virtuosity, Erdmann, Ceccaldi and the British vibraphone player Jim Hart might even have their own spark from children’s songs or famous chansons. Their joy of playing and close-knit interaction are a pleasure, the connection of high art, vitality and fine humor succeeds exemplary. Live on stage many improvisations shed new light to the pieces: the three of them balancing on the high ropes of the free, but never overbearing, imagination. At the age of 43, Erdmann is a bit older than his partners, but his tone on the tenor saxophone sounds like an even bigger maturity. A warm, earthy timbre is the basis on which his melodies, which are soft, but definitely broken, can grow into hoarse booms, turn into rough shouts and fluttering modulation. Breath tingly sovereign in the choice of his means, Erdmann swaps between reduction and enrichment, his phrases are full of surprises. The principle of the jamboree bag, perhaps even a few facets more, applies to Théo Ceccaldi. Not even 31 years, he is rightly celebrated as a great discovery beyond France’s borders. Classically trained, Ceccaldi plays on violin and viola many things which are at least rarely to be heard in jazz. Full overtones or complex-polyphonic passages, fluttering flageolets in various shades, plucked motifs, scraping accents and stoically chipped chords show verve and wit. Beyond all the precisely executed caprices, Ceccaldi’s attitude and presence conveys deep passion. The third man, Jim Hart, born in 1978, studied piano and drums in London and has long made his mark as a vibraphonist. Meanwhile, at home in Alsace, Hart takes care of Velvet Revolution’s groove, sometimes he condenses fine-timed rhythmic braids, and sometimes also creates rattling tones and sweeps atmospheric sounds from the metal plates. Whether calm, floating or swinging, in parallel arcs or contrapuntal lines, together or individually, the three stylists always fascinate with sensitivity and nuanced expression. The unusual line-up and a striking artistic attitude make Daniel Erdmann’s Velvet Revolution a special, highly recommended experience. Norbert Krampf, FAZ
Trio Photo, nicolas dhondt
Daniel Erdmann, photo Dirk Bleiker