Jin Jim – Weisse Schatten (ACT 9677-2)

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In 2013 a new young band entered Bonn’s Jazz Tube competition. In the following year, the Jin Jim quartet triumphed over a field of nearly 200 entrants to win the „Future Sounds“ competition at the Leverkusener Jazztage festival. At the Baltic Jazz Festival in 2017 Jin Jim received standing ovations and a contract from the the ACT Jazz label, who are Committed to promoting new bands with great potential. The result is ‘Weisse Schatten‘.

Jin Jim’s second release following 2014’s appropriately named ‘Die Ankunft’ (The Arrival) proves that the Band have indeed arrived with it’s confident and elegant Jazz/Rock style.

The English word ‘Soundscape’ sounds too clinical, too tailored. ‘Klanglandschaften’.though is one of those words that German does very well. Fitting then to apply it to a German band, and, even better, a local one. Jin Jim, for all their relative youth, are master cultivators of ‘Klanglandschaften’.

The essence of Jin Jim’s distinctive sound can be heard inside the first 20 seconds of opening number ‘7x7x7’. A distinctive heavy guitar riff grinds into the ear canals, but just when either another equally grinding guitar, or maybe a Robert Plant like vocal, would be expected to roar into life, the guitars domination is surpassed – by a flute. If you give the original version of ‘House of the King’ by Jan Akkerman a listen, not surprising given Akkerman’s pedigree with Focus, it has an early 70’s Rock aura about it. Jin Jim have the confidence to take the musical essence of the original and deconstruct it. The result is a much slower and precise track to begin with, that gradually builds up pace rather than, as with the original, maintains it.

It’s clear, even from early in the disc, that the sound and balance of the band rests very heavily on the dynamism between the Rock drumming of Nico Stallmann, the clean but 70’s guitar style of Johann May on guitar, and the oddball, ‘shouldn’t work here but do work so well’, C, alto and bass flutes of Peruvian born Daniel Manrique-Smith. Don’t underestimate here either the job of bassman Ben Tai Trawinski who manages to keep all styles glued firmly together rhythm wise – allowing the band to rock out or Manrique-Smith to mellow out – often within the same bar of music.

Tracks like ‘Exploration’ and ‘Days of September’ are music for sunny Summer evenings resting in the garden, but as often as not there is a sting in the tail, or complete changes of tempo and feeling.

‘Duende’ is an excellent track on which to hear the best of Jin Jim’s innovative sound. It starts in a slightly Russian sounding way but soon becomes a fine balancing act between intricate changes of pace and instrument. Having earlier described Johann May as something of an old-school rock guitarist I have to say that he can also play fine note runs as evidenced here.

Why does it always seem though that as soon as the flute comes back into play it dominates immediately? Possibly it’s down to the player’s remarkable ability to surprise and delight the listener in equal measure as Manrique-Smith does perfectly on ‘Exploration’ and again on ‘Dreaming’ where his throaty playing replicates perfectly how water droplets on a leaf in a Spring shower would sound if we could hear them. This really is a ‘Soundgarden’ of delights. A man always looking to find new sounds and feelings with his instrument.

‘Mankafiza’, if my Google search was correct, is Malagasy (Madagascan) for ‘Delicious’ and sure enough, the track is a mouthwatering blend of up-tempo Rock and subtle Jazz. Which is as good a way to describe the band playing it as any I can think of:  A mouthwatering blend of solid rock and subtle Jazz – Jin Jim are a treat for gourmet Jazz lovers.

On 26 November Jin Jim will be playing a concert at Bonn’s Pantheon Theatre, but if you’re a fan of inventive Jazz music that will be too long to wait – The CD ‘Weisse Schatten’ is already available HERE

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