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WHYPLAYJAZZ 012 (Barcode: 4050486098578) ~ GERMANY ~ Jazz

Recorded: 2012 Released: 2014

This is the debut album by the quartet called Lotus EatersFind albums by this artist, led by German saxophonist / composer Wanja SlavinFind albums by this artist and including pianist Rainer BohmFind albums by this artist, Danish bassist Andreas LangFind albums by this artist and drummer Tobias BackhausFind albums by this artist. Saxophonist Philipp GropperFind albums by this artist guests on one track. For Slavin, who in the past was a student of my dear friend Leszek ZadloFind albums by this artist, this is a second album as a leader, following the debut entitled "SciroccoFind albums with this title" from 2010. The album presents six tunes, five of which are originals and one is a standard by Billy StrayhornFind albums by this artist, which gives both the album and the group their respective names.

In the liner notes Slavin refers to his original compositions as "inspired by" certain Jazz tunes or Jazz musicians, like Charles LloydFind albums by this artist or Hermeto PascoalFind albums by this artist. These compositions are very melodic, mostly low key ballads, full of melancholy and lyricism. The quartet performs them delicately and with an obvious respect, trying not to push them beyond their original framework. The last rack is the most open and includes an extended freely improvised section, but the overall impression is quite "conventional", which is rather unusual for the albums released on the WhyPlayJazzFind albums on this label label.

The individual statements by the quartet members are all splendid. Slavin´s alto saxophone has a mellow, enchanting tone, which caresses the listener´s ears gently. Bohm does a wonderful job supporting the leader and although plays little foreground solos, his background layers are as much important. Lang is as usual simply outstanding and step by step becomes one of my favorite bassist of the young European scene. Backhaus is a bit too busy for my taste and not completely compatible with the album´s concept, but perhaps his activity provides a contrast which has a positive influence on the overall sonic result.

This kind of music should be accessible to a wide range of Jazz listeners, as there is so much to like herein, that everybody can hand on to something else that strikes a chord; some will like the tunes, others the splendid performances and yet others might be delighted by the degree of freedom and space present, in spite of the seemingly "simple" approach. Regardless of the specific viewpoint, it is very hard not to like this album from the first hearing. Well done!
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