CD REVIEW: VEIN feat. Dave Liebman - Jazz Talks

VEIN feat. Dave Liebman - Jazz Talks
(Unit Records UTR 4556. CD review by Mike Collins)

Swiss trio Vein blipped brightly on UK jazz radars last year with an appearance at the Vortex alongside Greg Osby, and their previous release, Vote for Vein, that wowed London Jazz News reviewer Eric Ford (link below). The follow up Jazz Talks, this time with Dave Liebman as collaborator in chief and a sprinkling of live dates in April and May, will make sure they are really noticed. The new album, recorded in an afternoon and, they say, with no rehearsal is a tour de force.

There’s no pinning them down. Shuffle your play list for this album and the selections that emerge will lead the casual listener in different directions. There are loose, deconstructed standards propelled by a visceral, obliquely stated swing. All The Things You Are opens the set with Liebman sketching out the familiar intro. The band somehow coalesce around the theme and by the time Liebman and pianist Michael Arbenz are spooling out lines and weaving around each other’s phrases, there’s an unstoppable momentum. Autumn Leaves gets similar treatment. Negative Space, a Liebman composition, has a long, rhapsodic piano intro, before a closely scripted theme gives way to some impassioned blowing by Liebman on his familiar soprano sax: intense, contemporary jazz. Originals from the core trio members, pianist Michael’s twin brother Florian Arbenz on drums and Thomas Lähns on bass, steer things in different directions again. The taut, off-kilter funky groove of Stories of the Century gives way to some fiery blowing. Jammin’ in the Children’s Corner has the whole band in unison for the hooky theme over a swinging rocky groove that’s sustained through an extended, fizzing joust between sax and drums. Clear Light by contrast is more tone poem, Liebman’s wooden recorder soaring over textures and slowly moving harmony. Improvised ‘small talk’ is threaded through the album, duo conversations between each band member and Liebman.

While the references and styles may be divergent, this band has a vibrant, distinctive personality and it’s rooted in the earliest jazz. Pianist Michael cites Art Tatum and Fats Waller as influences, an exposure that began early for him and his brother through their father’s record collection. In an email exchange he suggests they draw on the sense of a collective approach to improvising as well as structures that use stops and ‘shout’ like choruses to shape and colour the music. It’s music that is vividly current as well as being rooted in that consciousness of jazz history.

The closing track You and the Night and Music begins with a more explicit reference back to that swing feel before developing into a burn-up, Dave Liebman on tenor letting rip and his hoarse cries providing a great finale to a diverse, top drawer session.

- Jazz Talks is released on 6th April

- Vein Trio will be appearing with Dave Liebman

May 28th The Vortex, London
May 29th Birmingham Conservatoire

- Vein Trio will be touring in April

April 21 St Ives Jazz Club
April 22nd Grimsby Jazz club
April 23rd Newcastle University
April 24th Capstone Theatre, Liverpool

LINK: CD Review: Vein - Vote for Vein

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