I remember feeling quite inspired at the recent press presentation of the Alten Zoll Open Air Festival 2017. An interesting start to this year’s Stadtgarten Season was promised and indeed has now been delivered: An evening of Rap/Hip Hop followed by an evening of cool Jazz. A little doubting bell inside my head was ringing with a voice questioning “But will it work though?” I can’t speak for the Rap/Hip Hop although the verdict of those I spoke to who caught it remembered it most for its expletives.
The nearest you would get to ‘swearing’ on the Saturday Jazz night though would maybe have been ‘Sau Geil!’ Powered by the forthcoming ‘Jazz Tube’ series (starting 25 August at a tube station near you!) ‘Geil’, being a German equivalent of ‘Cool’ seems like the perfect description for the evening with Alex Wünsche Trio and Luciel Featuring Sophie Grobler.
The weather looks a bit doubtful when I arrive down by the Alten Zoll but organizer Thomas Kimmerle assues me that all rain has been cancelled until 10 pm. If only everyone in Bonn had known. But there is a pleasant ‘crowd’ if crowd is the right word for the groups lounging on the lawn that overlooks the stage. It’s especially good considering that just down the road is a stage at Münsterplatz that’s been collecting it’s audience since late morning (Folk Club heroes Bromo were there when I left). Could there even be too much free music in Bonn? Not for the music loving public certainly and this evening that’s me and a sizeable number of picnickers. Well,there’s a beer garden next door but it’s full whether there’s a concert or not at this time of the week, and the little stand selling bottled beer isn’t equipped to deal with anything more than a few thirsty buyers so picnic seems to be writ large – and music too.
The Alex Wünsche Trio consists of (surprise, surprise,) Alex Wünsche on guitar, Calvin Lennig on bass and drummer Philipp Klahn, three graduates from Essen’s Folkwang University of the Arts. For the most part their’s is a light soundcarpet musically with a nice mix of composition and improvisation. Some of the improvisation it should be noted is a natural process caused by the breeze ruffling musical notes about as if daring the trio to go it alone.
It’s easy to hear why Wünsche was ‘Newcomer of the Year’ in a 2013 local senders (WDR) Jazz Competition. There’s a touch of Santana, a touch of Southern Rock even, in the overall sound and the closing ‘Hangover’ brings the trio’s set to an excellent end far too soon. Certainly a fine start to the evening, and the cloudy skies actually seem to be parting above our heads as the second band of the evening, Luciel, take the stage.
David Rynkowski has a charisma that I instantly remembered from seeing him behind the keyboard at a past Jazz Tube but he will certainly have competition on the charisma front tonight from Luciel’s special guest, singer Sophie Grobler.
Rynkowski has the sound of Stevie Wonder with ‘On and On’ and a super laid back ballad in the form of ‘Breakfast’ that is a cross between the lyricism of Billy Joel and the feel of Paul Simon.
As stated though, there is some competition this evening and indeed on this stage for style – healthy competition always brings out the best and that was certainly the case this evening. Sophie Grobler’s repertoire is, for the most part, self-penned and very enjoyable to hear. Interestingly, largely in English language. She’s a Jazz vocalists dream and a photographers dream too – one of those people who seems to naturally know where the camera is and have a ready smile. Two very excellent singer songwriters onstage then and when the two get together for a duet as on the funky ‘Our Love is Blind’ it’s a true pleasure to be down by the Rhine. A thumbs firmly up too for guitarist Johannes Behr, Drummer Tim Dudek and especially bassist and occasional singer Florian Rynkowski for fine contributions musically.
With the sun fast fading and the stage lights adding to the atmosphere the Stadtgarten finally truly took on that magical atmosphere that only a stage directly near the river could ever hope for. That little bell in my head was long silenced. Yes it DID work. Very well indeed in fact. When I saw Thomas Kimmerle towards the evening’s end he already seemed to have Stadtgarten 2018 and Jazz Tube in his eyes. The stop deadline was fast approaching as the band dipped into the up-tempo ‘Crazy Bus’ and a refreshingly different take of Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Dark’ with it’s lyric of regret “We could have had it all!”.
We didn’t have it all, but we did very well indeed. What we certainly had was an evening that will hopefully remind people who don’t normally give local Jazz a listen to head for the tube station – not at midnight, but Friday’s as of 25 August. Full details of Jazz Tube 2017 are HERE.