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ClassicsOnline Home » KRUSCHE, Martin: Friendship Pagoda
By Glenn Astarita
"Recorded live at New Orleans' number one jazz venue - "Snug Harbor", tenor saxophonist Martin Krusche aligns himself with native New Orleanian, trumpeter Nicholas Payton for the Quintet outing titled, Friendship Pagoda. And with support from a sturdy rhythm section featuring pianist Victor Atkins, bassist David Pulphus and drummer Geoff Clapp, the band produces a streamlined groove along with steamy overtones thanks to the powerful and often counterbalancing attack of the lead soloists.
Krusche's original compositions are primarily based upon cyclic hybrid Latin-mid-tempo swing, bump and grind type measures and intervals, which provides a solid framework for expansive melodies and an abundance of strong soloing. Throughout, the saxophonist and Payton compliment one another via Krusche's warm tone and Payton's lustrous, yet at times brawny lines which is evident on spirited pieces such as "Southern Belles" and "Phoenix". With "I'd Like To Sing", Payton and Krusche emit joyous proclamations amid lilting themes, striking melodies and an overall purposeful mode of execution. The piece titled "Bad Breakfast" boasts Victor Atkins' sweeping McCoy Tyner-ish piano introduction followed by Krusche's silky smooth choruses. Essentially, Friendship Pagoda comes as a welcome surprise! One that is marked by tuneful compositions and impassioned dialogue. Recommended."
"What's exciting about jazz is the process," says tenor saxophonist Martin Krusche. "That's 50 percent, if not more. It's music you want to see live - you want to be there when they do it. A record is a great medium to document something, but if anything will keep this music alive, it's that particular excitement of a performance. It's not that it's new or perfect - it's that it's happening on the spot."
It's no surprise then the Munich-born improviser has decided to make his debut record a live recording. Friendship Pagoda was taped at the New Orleans' club, Snug Habor, the venerable jazz club on the edge of the French Quarter, over two nights in the summer of 1999, and it features four of the Crescent City's premier young players. Not the least of whom is Grammy-winning trumpet sensation, Nicholas Payton. The other performers are Victor Atkins (piano), David Pulphus (bass) and Geoff Clapp (drums).
Over this seven-track set of barnburning swing and intelligent bop, Krusche and crew temper some fiery solo attacks with a loose but complementary ensemble playing. The disc is a mixture of originals by Krusche and two standards (Billy Strayhorn's Chelsea Bridge and another classic The Night Has a Thousand Eyes) reinvented into modern jazz tunes. With next to little rehearsal or preparation, this intuitive group of musicians makes it look easy. As Krusche says, "These players get the drift instantly. They pick up the music, not only technically, but they can get inside and give it the feeling they hear in the songs."
Krusche should know because, with the exception of the in-high-demand Payton, this is a group he has performed with often while living in New Orleans. Bassist David Pulphus is a longtime member of Terence Blanchard's group. Pianist Victor Atkins performs with Los Hombres Callentes, an all-star Latin Jazz band that has taken the Crescent City by storm. Drummer Geoff Clapp has collaborated with most of New Orleans jazz stars. As the most well known performer in this set, trumpeter Nicholas Payton through his releases on Verve has established him as one of the grand talents of his generation. He won a Grammy in 1997 for a recording with legend Doc Cheatham.
Leader the unit, is German native Martin Krusche, who first arrived in the US in 1993 as a result of a music scholarship. In Germany, he studied at the conservatory in Wurzburg. After two years in New York, he moved to the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans, and quickly established himself in the local jazz community. Although he has since moved back to New York in June 1999, his ties with the Louisiana city known for its vibrant musical colours are still strong. That explains his recording the CD there.
On Friendship Pagoda, Martin Krusche takes a snapshot in time of a music best-captured in improvisation. The result may have been unpredicted and unplanned, but for those who can fully appreciate jazz, it is picture perfect.
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KRUSCHE, Martin: Friendship Pagoda