Whilst I don’t pretend to be a clued-up jazz fan, I do know what I like. One of my jazz world heroes is most certainly Chet Baker. In Germany that name tends to lead somewhat inevitably to Till Brönner, so it seemed promising when I discovered that Maik Krahl studied jazz under that very gentleman. Krahl and his Quartet did not disappoint – short melodic flurries ala Baker were a joy, but Krahl is much more than an imitator as his appearance at the Dottendorfer Jazznacht proved.
Seeing him up close it’s clear that Maik Krahl is a relative youngster at just 31. From a distance though, and with eyes half closed and ears fully open, Krahl looks and sounds like a solid trumpet veteran. He has a confident air about him of someone who knows his instrument inside out. Before the show started I made a quick recce of the stage to see the camera angles for my Nikon. There seemed more space centre-stage than usual. There was no sheet music stand…
Krahl would often stand in the shadows at the stage-side; tapping out the rhythm with hand against heart as the band played. Putting trumpet to lips from time to time, never actually playing but as if writing a mental solo – then he would return centre-stage to deliver the melody that his capable band had inspired. Music created in the moment. Even kneeling down to adjust some sort of switch mid-solo. Can you have a foot-pedal for a trumpet? Now I’m confused…
Much of the evening’s set came from Krahl’s latest (third) disc titled ‘In-Between Flow’ and flow is a pretty good description of how the evenings music melded together. The slow moving melodrama of ‘Cologne 4 AM’ was an early favourite and I have to say that, rather like Chet, I liked Maik the most on tunes like this when the sound got smokey.
I enjoyed the song introductions too. ‘Slosetta’, inspired by a love for preparing coffee (the title is a delicious drink made from espresso and steamed milk), maybe loses a little without the call and answer provided on disc via Kurt Rosenwinkel’s guitar but it still swings. ‘The busy ‘No Claim Claim’ has its inspiration in a love of surfing and ‘Ms Ludgate’? The inspiration here comes from Krahl’s favourite character – April Ludgate inNBC’s comedy ‘Parks & Recreation’. I think you get the message from all this? Maik Krahl gets his inspiration out of every corner of his life.
Let’s not forget there is also an excellent band helping to create the mood for Krahl’s trumpet playing. Reza Askari (Bass) and Fabian Rösch (Drums) were a solid fundament to build on and Constantine Kramer in particular shone on piano. There was never any doubting though that this was ultimately about creating a backdrop to inspire the man on trumpet – which it clearly did throughout the evening.
It was not as packed a hall as for the opening show here this season by Christine Corvisier, but a good sized crowd nonetheless. Both sound and lighting systems have been overhauled in the venue for the 2023 season and perhaps there is still a learning curve here; at times the stage seemed to be almost burnt out by green lighting and the bright row of lights above the stage. Sound can also be a tricky thing to get just right, especially when you’re not quite sure how many people are coming in. It’s ealy days though breaking everything in and for the most part light and sound were excellent. The investment in, and commitment to Jazz here is certainly plain to see and the roster of quality musicians booked proves that the venue’s early potential is blossoming in 2023. Take a look below at the line-up for coming months that includes Nils Wülker & Arne Jansen (11 Nov), Thorsten Goods (20 October), and Lisa Bassenge (June) or just stick a pin in the list – whatever, you are sure to pick a winner.