NuHussel Orchestra: The Forest

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From Hamburg, Germany comes an interesting band, or better a collective of musicians called the NuHussel Orchestra. It was founded in 2015 by Wanja C. Hasselmann (drums/composition) and the band combines modern jazz with rock, funk, hip-hop, electro and classical music. The result is a powerful and energetic blend of modern urban jazz music.

The line up of the orchestra is

  • Wanja C. Hasselmann – drums
  • Christopher Baum – keyboards
  • Florian Kiehn – guitar
  • Jonathan Ihlenfeld Cuñado – bass
  • Patrick Huss – percussion
  • Jan Gospodinow – trumpet
  • Max Rademacher – tenor sax & flute

The orchestra released their debut album “First Things First” in 2017, they won the Future Sounds Jazz Prize in the same year and were invited to the Leverkusener Jazztage in 2018. The band has released their second album “The Forest” on August 30. For this recording a stage was built where they could record and film the sessions over a five day period. 38 musicians from 12 nations worked on this project and the effort pays off with a fantastic album and impressive videos of the recording session.

The album begins with an “Overture” like an opera with the NHO string quartet playing a soft and sad ballad indulging itself in long notes, moving seamlessly over into the second song “Orange Sand” where the orchestra goes all out and shows it’s incredible power. Salsa inspired with drums, percussions and horns that dominate the sound, excellently supported by bass, keyboards, guitar and the string quartet. This is already one of the highlights on the album.


“Phoenix” is a very well organized  and structured compositions with many different elements. It starts with a rock guitar riff supported by the horn section. Dynamics go down after this intro and the electric piano presents the harmonic structure, the melody is played by trumpets and saxophones. The solo goes to Jan Gospodinow on trumpet.

The next song “Overwhelmed” features Alana Alexander on vocals. She also wrote the lyrics to this song. The band is rounded off with backing vocals, harp and the string quartet. Alana gets a chance to improvise freely only backed up by an organ which creates an intimate gospel feeling. The song ends with a grand finale. An impressive performance by Alana Alexander and definitely another highlight on the album.


The title song “The Forest” comes next and we hear a banjo with a fusion band which creates a unique galloping groove. This song combines again a lot of different ideas into one great and complex composition.

“KAOS” features the German rapper Nico Suave. This song is a re-arrangement of Nico’s song from his 2015 album “Unvergesslich”. The arrangement features the horn section and the solo is a nice dialog between keyboard and guitar.

The album continues with “Jamboree” which has an electro background and horns and organ playing the melody. Interesting combination which works well. Max Rademacher plays a beautiful flute solo and the banjo gets another chance to add it’s special touch.

“Home” is the next song, a soft and melodic tune with a lot of space which is used by Florian Kiehn for a fantastic guitar solo. We hear an interlude where the melody is played either by trumpet or guitar and harmonies are played by the string quartet which creates a very nice and unusual sound. The second solo goes to Christopher Baum on keyboards.

The album closes with “Vortex” where the NHO Big Band Horns support the NuHussel Orchestra. This horn section gives the band a complete new sound, like a modern big band. Max Rademacher and Jan Gospodinow are integrated into this horns section and play very good solos. Another song where I added the video:


This album is really an ambitious and unusual project but the result is definitely remarkable. The band combines different elements seamlessly into one great new musical experience. Please listen to the music and watch the videos. It’s worth it.

More details and tour dates of the NuHussel Orchestra are found on their website:

https://nuhusselorchestra.com/

And finally a playlist of this album on Spotify:

 

John Pearce: Just Friends

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Bristol-based violinist John Pearce has released his debut album “Just Friends” on September 18. The album contains a tasty collection of ten standards including some of my personal favorites like “You Don’t Know What Love Is” or “Just Friends”.

John Pearce started to play violin at the age of seven and was trained as classical violinist before he found his way into jazz music. He is not only a sought-after classical violinist but also an active member of the Bristol jazz scene.  He is accompanied on this album by

  • David Newton – piano
  • Will Harris – double bass
  • Ian Matthews – drums

all of them well-known in Bristol and South-West-England.

The album starts with the title song “Just Friends”. This song begins with a funny intro and picks up during the violin solo. The band is really hard grooving and John Pearce has a phenomenal violin sound. We also hear a great piano solo and an interlude with a nice drums solo. Excellent start into this album.

“Alice in Wonderland” indulges in elegancy before the song accelerates. Again, a great swinging band and beautiful solos by violin and piano strengthen the impression that this band knows how to play this tunes relaxed and sophisticated.

“Joy Spring” adds new colors to the album. David Newton plays on a Fender Rhodes. The groove is heavy, almost funky with David Newton having the first solo. John takes over and sings his solo together with the violin which adds another unique sound to this song. This is definitely one of the highlights on the album.

The next two songs are two of my favorite ballads, “Moonlight in Vermont” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is”.

“Moonlight in Vermont” begins in a pop-music-style with the piano playing arpeggios and long notes on the violin  (with just a little bit of vibrato) switching to a bluesy piano solo and an expressive violin solo before it returns to the soft style from the beginning.

David Newton’s piano playing in “You Don’t Know What Love Is” reminds me a little bit of Gil Goldstein with Pat Martino. The solos come from piano and violin and show the different approach each musicians chooses. David Newton has the bluesy-touch and John Pearce looks for a beautiful melody and at the end he plays a classically inspired cadence.

The next song is “Caravan” by Duke Ellington. This version has again some special effects. Ian Matthews plays the drums in jungle-style and also gets the chance to shine with an extended solo and the piano solo on the Fender Rhodes is overdubbed over the “normal” piano.

“Stompin’ At The Savoy” has received a nice makeover with a steady stomping bass in the A part of the tune and a walking bass in the bridge. The violin solo starts in best coffee house style, soft and gentle but with fine dynamics. Will Harris on bass takes the last solo in this tune.

The album continues with “So Danco Samba” played very clear and transparent with a nice steady groove by drums and bass.  The violin solo starts light as feather and piano solo caters for the earthy sound.

The ballad “My Foolish Heart”  is played beautifully by John Pearce. Long notes in high position and large intervals with perfect intonation.

The album closes with “Lester Leaps In”, a tune based on Rhythm-changes where violin, piano and drums have a chance to present again their stupendous technical skills in an up-tempo-swing tune.

Overall “Just Friends” is a great album with many well known standards that received an superb makeover and come with a personal touch. The songs sound new and refreshing and John Pearce and his fellow musicians present them in a very positive vibe and a lot of energy.

John is currently on a promotion tour in the UK for this album. details are on his website:
http://www.johnpearceviolin.com/

I have a video of this band playing “Skylark”:

And finally a playlist of this album on Spotify: