Drummer and composer Claudio Scolari and his experimental jazz project have released a new album called ‘Cosmology’. It is the second album that has been recorded live and it features his long-time partner Daniele Cavalca on synthesizers and piano, his son Simone Scolari on trumpet and Michele Cavalca on bass.
The 13 tracks on the album circle around an imaginary journey into time and space. The compositions are all originals by Claudio Scolari & Daniele Cavalca (except ‘Collision’ which is by Simone Scolari & Daniele Cavalca).
The album start with ‘Dark Matter’, a song that builds on a steady drums groove. The trumpet defines the mode of the song supported by changing patterns from piano and synthesizer. This is the trademark of this band, the combination of the natural sounds from trumpet and drums plus the electric and synthetic sounds by bass, piano and synthesizer.
‘Magnitude’ builds on an intensive synthesizer pattern, drums come and go, the trumpet and the piano are in a constant dialogue.
‘Hyper Galaxy’ changes to a much more spacious sound impression, fulfilling our expectations of unlimited time and space. The lonely (Miles Davis inspired) trumpet intensifies this impression.
‘Aurora’ is much more tangible. Based on a synthesizer riff this song develops into some kind of happiness. Definitely my favorite song on the album. The band produced a nice video to demonstrate the recording process:
‘Zenith’ is the next song on the album and is more densely packed with drums, bass and piano following a pushing groove.
‘Spectrum’ develops like ‘Dark Matter’ over a steady groove. Noticeable here is Michele Cavalca on bass who is much more present and plays an active role in the dialogue between the musicians.
The title song ‘Cosmology’ comes next. This short tune features Daniele Cavalca on a slightly odd acoustic piano.
‘Blue Shift’ is a slow and contemplative song. Nice echo effects on the trumpet. The end of this song is much more intense and is inspired by the pushing drums of Claudio Scolari.
‘Aphelion’ comes packed with bass and drums setting the pace. Piano and trumpet follow initially before the mode changes and becomes more open which allows all four musicians to start a conversation.
‘Lunation’ brings back peace and quietness. The song stays very open with drums, bass and trumpet and some harsh kicks from the piano.
‘Black Hole’ starts with a clear trumpet and reminds me on scenes from the morning of judgement day. Heavy bass groove by a synthesizer bass and a steady intensification characterize this song.
‘Collision’ sounds like dance. Great drums and percussion work.
The album ends with ‘Nebula’ a song which begins in an undefined mode before the piano plays some broken pop ballad harmonies. The song and the album end with the trumpet vanishing into infinity.
‘Cosmology’ is another great album by Claudio Scolari and his project. The band has found its style and coherence. The arrangements are full of different sounds and ideas and allow to improvise and to get into dialogue with each other.
From Munich, Germany comes saxophonist, clarinetist and composer Mulo Francel. His newest project is called “Crossing Life Lines” and combines eleven musicians from Germany, Austria, Poland and Czech Republic with originals, Jazz standards and compositions from Chopin and Smetana in an album that celebrates that borders, which have been closed for many decades during the Cold War, are open and people that have been expelled from their home after World War II have found peace together in an united Europe.
Mulo Francel has some more details:
“I had been on tour with my band Quadro Nuevo in the Czech Republic and Poland. It took us all the way to Przemysl in the very east to a great accordion festival with a heartfelt audience. On our last evening we played in Gliwice. Jakub, the young concert organizer, invited us afterwards to a restaurant in the countryside where his brother cooked wonderfully. We talked until late and tried to translate jokes for each other. The home-made brandy from Jakub’s father did the rest.
Still laughing I fell into my hotel bed. But soon I was rolling from one side to the other. The emotions of this journey left me no peace and on the contrary with a crucial question: How do I deal with the suffering caused by our grandfathers’ generation? Do I address it? Do I apologize?
The end of the Second World War was over 75 years ago. Gone are the occupation, the internment, the mass rapes and killings, the expulsion from the homeland. Finished. At least in Central Europe and the bordering countries of Eastern Europe.
I was looking for excellent musicians who understand my concern. Who, because of their biography, have a sense for overcoming borders and building reconciling bridges between peoples. Such as the Polish vibraphonist Izabella Effenberg, who lives in Nuremberg, or the Viennese guitarist Diknu Schneeberger, who has Jenish and Sinti roots. People whose family-DNA historically carries “Slavic” & “Germanic”, German-Bohemian & Czech-Bohemian, Sudeten German & Hungarian-Austrian, Jewish & Christian influences.”
The album starts with ‘Valse du Bohémien’ an adaption of Bedřich Smetana’s ‘Moldau’ arranged by Mulo Francel and presented as a pushing Jazz waltz. First song and first highlight on the album, so the appetite for more was raised.
The second song is an original by Mulo Francel and D.D. Lowka called ‘Ada’s Song’ and is an homage to Mulo’s grandmother. The melody has some of those ‘killer’ sounds where guitar, piano and vibraphone play the background and melody together. Beautiful solos come from Izabella Effenberg, Diknu Schneeberger, Bernd Lhotzky and Mulo Francel. Great old-fashioned swinging band with the Gypsy-touch added by Diknu Schneeberger.
The Jerome Kern standard ‘Look for the Silver Lining’ comes next, arranged in Reggae-style with Mulo Francel playing a beautiful clarinet.
‘Schaschlik’ (German for ‘Shish Kebap’) is a song in style of the music of David Gazarov’s home town Baku. Mulo explains: “This song is played on weddings and grill parties. Composed of musical motifs of the multicultural Caucasian region. We had a lot of fun with this!”
‘Lover Man’ written for Billie Holiday is the next song, performed by Mulo Francel with the piano trio David Gazarov (p), Sven Faller (b) and Robert Kainar (d). An outstanding piano solo is the highlight of this tune.
We hear the same quartet in ‘Blues in X Moll’ a nice melancholic tune written by Mulo Francel.
‘The Rabbi from Namysłów’ by Sven Faller comes next. Mulo Francel and Philipp Schiepek on guitar play the melody beautifully together. The song was written in memoriam of Rabbi David Laqueur, the “forefather” of the clan of Sven’s grandmother after a family reunion in 2017 in Poland. Great song and fantastic arrangement based on guitar and clarinet. Sven Faller gets the chance for a nice bass solo.
‘Wiosna’ (Polish for ‘Spring’) by Izabella Effenberg is the next song. The song starts soft and open with Izabella playing the array mbira. Fantastic groove by the rhythm section with Philipp Schiepek (g), Sven Faller (b) and Robert Kainar (d). Mulo Francel plays the soprano saxophone, another change in sound which makes this album so diversified and manifold.
The album continues with ‘Ein Sommertag’ (German for ‘A summer day’) by composer Hans Winterberg. Winterberg came from a Jewish family in Prague and was a survivor of the concentration camp in the ghetto of Theresienstadt. Born in 1901, he first grew up in the Empire of Austria, then, after World War I, became a citizen of Czechoslovakia, and after his emigration in 1947 a German in Bavaria. A typical résumé in the 20th century and a perfect example that identity is something unique and individual.
‘September Remember’ by Mulo Francel brings back the fantastic Diknu Schneeberger in another great swinging tune.
‘Sám s děvčetem v dešti’ (Czech for ‘Alone with a Girl in the Rain’) is an old hit song from the 1930′s from the Czech Republic and wallows in nostalgia. Old-fashioned swinging and featuring Jiří Bárta on cello.
‘Naab’ by Sven Faller is an homage to the river Naab which is the border between Germany and Czech Republic and can be crossed now freely. The spring of the river is in the middle of a remote, enchanted part of the Upper Palatinate Forest where you can stand with each foot in a different country. Drums and percussion set the rhythmic layer for the improvisations. A very powerful and energetic song.
‘Frieda’ by Philipp Schiepek is the next song. It remembers Philipp’s grandmother who grew up in Bohemia and started a new life after the war in southern Germany. A soft song with Philipp Schiepek playing an acoustic guitar. Izabella Effenberg on vibraphone and Mulo Francel on tenor sax are the other soloists here.
The album finishes with ‘Fredinand´s Prelude’ a song based on Chopin’s E-minor Prelude played in Rumba-style mixed with a Jelly Roll Morton piano interlude. Very entertaining late night music for the last dance before the bar closes.
Mulo Francel has produced a fantastic album with “Crossing Life Lines”. All songs have beautiful melodies and are really great to listen, the band plays extraordinary, all involved musicians show their mastery and the result is of great excellence, an album which you can listen again and again and where you will detect new nuances every time you listen. It is also a very personal album for the musicians, they opened their photo albums and their personal history and let us participate in their feelings and emotions.
This great video (in German with English subtitles) explains this project in detail: