Friday (22 June) saw the second stage of the SWB Jazz competition JazzTube which brings Jazz talent to the Ubahn Stations of Bonn, with the most popular Act getting a coveted concert in October at the Harmonie. Just listening to two of the latest entrants left me with the phrase ‘Chalk & Cheese’ on my mind. How can you compare a Jazz vocalist (Filippa Gojo) to a Trombone player (Lisa Pflaum)? You can’t of course, so maybe it’s better just to enjoy the music and know that the future of Jazz is in safe hands in the Bonn/Cologne region at least.
Checking on the Acts scheduled this week on the JazzTube website I had to see Lisa Pflaum. There are not a lot of trombonists heading their own bands – and even less of them are female. From what I could gather, Lisa is still a teenager, and her present band has only been treading the boards since last Winter. So yes, they are young, they are raw, and between song patter at the ThomasMann Strasse/Hauptbahnhof is short and smiles are a little on the nervous side. These are early days though for these youngsters and the music itself, all self composed, is already a delight. Pflaums trombone reminds me oddly of Chet Bakers trumpet, but as she tells me later, there was never a thought of playing another instrument – the trombone was, is, and will be, her ‘Leidenschaft’.
Undoubtedly the strength of Lisa Flaum’s set comes from an interplay of her light tones to the silky voice of Sabeth Perez. I had the feeling too that Pflaum was a little ’out of the box’ from the average Jazz trombonist – though I am not an expert on the subject! A female Rory Gallagher of the trombone? No ‘snick-snack’, this is what you get… and what you get is good, and I suspect will get even better. One to watch.
Down the line at Heussallee/Museumsmeile my senses have some adjustments to make. First of all my eyes. It’s dark with the most rudimentary of extra lighting. Secondly my ears, the sound is softer and silkier, and thirdly my expectations. Filippa Gojo is using basically the same combination of backing musicians– keyboard, percussion and bass, but both she and they are a little older and it shows in both presentation and musicianship. What I caught of Gojo’s first set was pleasant and predictable, showing she and her band could carry a Jazz tune confidently and competently, even finishing with something a little more off the Jazz wall with Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’. What we got in her second set however has set the bar for what I’ve heard to date at JazzTube and will take some beating. Gojo’s own composition ‘Lost in a Flashback’ highlighted the most beautiful and delicate of voices as well as giving her very capable band a chance to shine – which they admirably took advantage of. It was clear from the use of a jug and even a small instrument that percussionist Lukas Meile twisted in his hand like a pencil sharpener to emit gentle clicks (any experts can tell me what this is?) that every tiny sound matters to them. The standard of musicianship to accompany innovative music like this needs to be high and it was, particularly David Andres haunting evocative use of Contrabass impressed.
The sound was not so tiny that came out of Miss Gojo’s megaphone (suitably stamped with a football motif). It lent an urgent sense of disunity to her composition suitably titled ‘Confusao’ (confusion). I would swear that at one stage she even played the megaphone like a trumpet – did I mention stepping out of the box earlier with reference to Lisa Pflaum? this was more jumping out and running!
Both Lisa Pflaum and Filippa Gojo are studying at the High School for Music & Dance in Cologne, which leads me to give the School credit for the standard it’s pupils are reaching. I’m reminded of one of my favourite musicians, Ana Popovic, who studied Jazz guitar in Amsterdam and found there was a point at which studying notes and structures impacted on creativity. If the two young ladies I caught on JazzTube this week can retain the individuality they showed on Friday then visitors to venues like Harmonie and Rheinpark will have plenty to enjoy even after Mr Mason and Mr Semmel have gone marching home.