HUK’s Eleven: Rescued from the Drawer

Rescued from the Drawer

 

HUK’s Eleven is a band from the Interlaken area here in Switzerland that has been put together to play and record arrangements written by trumpet player Hansueli Krähenbühl. Some years ago he started to arrange Jazz standards for a wind section of 5-6 players (trumpets, trombones and saxophones) plus a rhythm section for workshop sessions. Since those arrangements spend most of their time in the drawer the idea came up to rescue them from the drawer and make a record. Finally in January 2017 a recording studio has been organized and a band (four saxophonists, two trumpet players, one trombone player plus a rhythm section with piano, guitar, bass and drums) was compiled to produce this record.

Some of the finest Swiss jazz musicians are lining up on this CD including Rolf and Sandro Häsler,  Vincent Lachat and Jérôme De Carli.

The selected tunes are all well known Jazz standards. The CD contains Cole Porter songs like “Love for Sale” or “You’d Be so Nice to Come Home To”,  George Gershwin’s “Soon”,  “It Might as Well Be Spring” from Richard Rogers and “Days of Wine and Roses” from Henry Mancini.

These great melodies make it rather easy to listen and to focus on the details of the arrangements and the solos. The band produces a full and complete sound almost like a big band, but it gives also space and freedom for each and everyone to shine as a soloist. The first song “Lady Bird” shows the direction:  a very well arranged melody, followed by solos including accompaniment of the band. That is basically the pattern on this album, the melody is arranged for the whole band and is followed by two or three solo choruses where each musician gets a chance to play a solo.

My favorite songs  on the CD are “Lady Bird”, “Tanga” and “It Might as Well Be Spring”. “Tanga” comes with a nice Latin groove and “It Might as Well Be Spring” has a very nice even a little bit greasy saxophone section, but I like that.

The rhythm section is playing very well together, piano and guitar give each other the necessary space and Stephan Urwyler on guitar is given extra room to improvise multiple times. Not bad for a band with so many horns.

So overall, I like the CD, the arrangements are nice and easy, very well played, the sound of the CD is also very well mixed and balanced, so a clear recommendation from me.

The band plans to play in public, but I have no dates yet, but I guess the Jazz summer will have a spot for this band.

You will find some of the songs on YouTube. Here is a link to “Lady Bird”:

 

Here is the complete line-up:

  • Hansueli Krähenbühl – trumpet, fluegelhorn
  • Sandro Häsler – trumpet, fluegelhorn
  • Rolf Häsler – soprano saxophone, alto saxophone
  • Fredi Krähenbühl – tenor saxophone, flute
  • Ivo Prato - tenor saxophone
  • Cornel Studach - baritone saxophone
  • Vincent Lachat - trombone
  • Stephan Urwyler - guitar
  • Jérôme De Carli - piano
  • Hans Ermel - bass
  • Roland Bürki – drums

And finally a playlist if you want to listen to or order the CD:

Jazz Clubs in Prague

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Last month I spent 3 nights in Prague and I thought I share my impressions from this trip with you.

It was my first time in this city, so I did the regular sight-seeing stuff like the Charles Bridge or the Castle, ate the famous Trdelník and enjoyed the perfect scenery in this exceptional city.

The evenings were reserved for visits to local Jazz clubs and I had the chance to see 3 different clubs:

1. Jazz Club Reduta: A very nice and cozy Jazz club. The band we saw was called “Tarapaca Jazz” and is formed around the pianist Jaroslav Bárta. The band played mainly their own compositions. The sound was pleasant, not too loud and not to soft,  the drinks were not too expensive and the program of the club is rather traditional, so if you search for a relaxing atmosphere with good Czech jazz musicians this is the perfect choice.

http://www.redutajazzclub.cz/en

2. Jazz and Blues Club Ungelt: We spent the second night in this club and we heard the “Luboš Andršt Blues Band”. They played very traditional Chicago-Blues, but Luboš is a great and very intelligent Blues guitar player. The club is rather small so expect it to be a little bit louder. The program of this club is more Blues-oriented and Luboš Andršt plays regularly here.

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http://www.jazzungelt.cz/

3. AghaRTA Jazz Club: This is the club with the more modern jazz oriented program. When we were there we saw Ondřej Kabrna & Flying Power. Ondřej is a excellent piano and organ player. He was accompanied by a cool guitar and bass player named Kryštof Tomeček.  The club is very popular and right next to the old-town square, so it might be difficult to find a seat when you arrive later in the evening.

http://www.agharta.cz/

All clubs have live music every night and they present local musicians. Prices for admission and drinks are reasonable. The musicians were all excellent and they find a mixed audience of local people and tourists every night.

Prague seems to have a very active and lively Jazz scene and if you want to escape from the beer-drinking crowds and selfie-stick equipped tourists then visit one of these clubs.