It might have been cold outside on the Dottendorfer Strasse, but in the Dottendorfer Ortszentrum, the Jazz sounds were hot. The Dottendorfer Jazznight Season kicked off in fine style on Friday, with a packed house enjoying the modern jazz grooves of the Christine Corvisier 5tet. Falling attendances for live music? Don’t you believe it. All available seats were sat on a good half hour before show-start.
When I first visited the Jazznacht it was easy to keep my head down in front of the stage and move freely around the hall taking pictures. That, as they say, was then – and this is now. The front row tables are almost touching the stage, and that empty space along the back row? It took me five minutes to make my way through the chairs to discover there was no empty space behind them anymore! Suffice to say that I can now safely dispense with labelling Dottendorf’s Jazznacht an ‘Insider Tip’. Standing in the back, in the pointiest bit of the far corner, I could see a young lady managing to gracefully move with a tenor saxophone strapped onto a harness around her slim waist. As each clutch of notes floats across to my ears from afar, I see the lady in question regularly raise her left knee as if to punctuate semi-colons in the music.
Christine Corvisier hails from Perpignon and has been playing sax since she was around fourteen years of age. Despite her apparent youth she started a 5tet some twelve years ago now, when she also began writing her own musical repertoire.
Corvisier’s present 5tet actually dates back to 2010 when she moved to Germany, and their experience in playing together really shines through tonight, proving that the 5tett has a firm fundament, with five excellent musicians in their own rights. I’ll get to the talented lady with the sax later – but first high praise for her band. Thomas Sauerborn’s drums kept all tempos firmly on the nail despite many numbers changing tempos as often as Joe Bonamassa changes guitars. David Andres played some surprisingly delicate bass that delighted too. On guitar, Martin Schulte kept things laid back and sounding deceptively simple. My accolade for best performance this evening though goes to pianist Sebastian Scobel. Listening to his spirited improvisation and seeing his obvious enthusiasm for playing would have made the journey out here worthwhile alone. All of which made Corvisier herself therefore the icing on a very tasty Jazzcake.
The evenings set was a mix of numbers from Corvisier’s last release, 2015’s ‘Reconnaissance’ plus newer numbers and a couple of compositions that inspired the lady to do what she does so well – play Alto Sax. When it comes to the latter, there’s no surprise that John Coltrane gets a musical mention from his 1961 release ‘My Favourite Things’. It’s a brave style to take on and not surprisingly ‘Different Things’ comes late in the set when everyone has warmed up for the challenge. Coltrane’s influence though is evident in Corvisier’s own style – playing much of the time in higher ranges as the great Man did (not surprising since his ‘other’ instrument of devotion was the clarinet).
Before we got to that magic stretch-out though there was a great deal to enjoy. The eerie start to a piece Corvisier was inspired to write after the Charlie Hebdo tragedy had almost two hundred people held in rapt concentration. Lighter compositions like ‘Modern Cinderella’ (inspired by a trip to Disneyland) and the staccato beat of ‘Groove in den Mai’ showed the Lady has a good ear for a groove where music writing is concerned, and her version of ‘La Foule’, made famous by Piaff showed that she doesn’t just take a tune and play it – she looks to re-interpret it too.
“My mother is here tonight” Corvisier explained, that the between song banter would, therefore, be in French as well as German “So you don’t just get to hear some Jazz, you get a French lesson too!” she laughed. In fact, Christine Corvisier has a very easy going charisma onstage that almost leads the listener to forget that she actually is very talented indeed. Following the concert, I bought her cd, and can only say I’m disappointed. No, not by the music, but that such a talented musician’s ‘latest’ release is almost four years old. If you like your Jazz with a melodious groove and gentle improvisations by a very talented bunch of musicians – give Christine Corvisier’s 5tet a listen.
It suffices to finish by saying that the Ortszentrum Dottendorf is likely to be a busy place on Jazz Nights this year. Get there in good time, or you may be sharing the far corner at the back of the room with me! To find out the coming dates check the DOTTENDORFER JAZZNACHT EVENT CALENDAR