REVIEW/FEATURE: Brot & Sterne (Franz Hautzinger, Matthias Loibner, Peter Rosmanith) at Jazzit:Musik:Club Salzburg


Brot & Sterne (Franz Hautzinger, Matthias Loibner, Peter Rosmanith) 
(Jazzit:Musik:Club Salzburg, 14 January 2018. Review/feature by AJ Dehany)

Obeying a wanderlust born of a lack of inner resources, I found myself on the jazz trail in Salzburg—the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music. The mountain vistas are astonishing. The architecture showcases Baroque excellence. The music is wonderful. The people are kind. The food is… well... fragwürdig. I sustained myself with a performance of Offenbach’s opera Tales of Hoffmann in German for the incredible price of three euros. I missed The Sound of Music, and heard no Wolfgang Amadeus, but I’ve worked out a definitive answer to the burning question “What nationality is Mozart?” If that question particularly exercises you, jump down to the postscript. Otherwise, let us proceed!

Salzburg, at the northern rim of the Alps, is wet, with a particular kind of summer drizzle known in the local dialect as Schnürlregen. Essentially, Salzburg is Austria’s Manchester. Like Manchester it is 200 miles from an attention-grabbing sibling capital city (however dissimilar London and Vienna might be) and it too makes a decent show of asserting itself. There’s a popular autumn jazz festival, “Jazz & The City” (2017 reviewed here).

It is in the quiet area of the Bahnhofsviertel that Jazzit:Musik:Club has established itself as a hub for improvised, experimental, jazz and world music, with an impressive roster of visitors including Paul Motian, Roscoe Mitchell, John Zorn, Christian Scott, and Pharoah Sanders. Since 1981 Walter Struger’s concert series “Jazz in the Theatre” has booked international musicians. In 1988 Andreas Neumayer started “ars nova - association against cultural stagnation”. The two ventures merged in 1990, putting on concerts in venues all around town. In 2002 Jazzit:Musik:Club found a permanent home on Elisabethstrasse in the basement of the Volksheim of the Austrian Communist Party.

The club is directed by Andreas Neumayer, a quietly mannered, friendly man with an ear for great music and an eye for spotting and encouraging new talent. The chilled-out bar area serves affordable cocktails and beer, with open sessions in the bar and concerts in the versatile studio theatre space. At five o’clock on a brisk Sunday evening, Vienna-based trio Brot und Sterne brought their lyrical atmospheres and their unusual but compelling constellation of hurdy-gurdy, trumpet and percussion, with a warm electronic sound helmed by the unfamiliar textures of the hang’s melodic patter and the hurdy-gurdy’s violin-like versatility.

The stage set with hurdy-gurdy and Hang drum
for Brot & Sterne
The three played compositions from their album Tales of Herbst with generous seasonings of improvisation and studied three-way banter and stories in between. Their close friendship was evident in these exchanges and in the generosity and trust they put into their playing together. The album has a darkly electronic atmosphere reminiscent of Nils Petter Molvær and Marilyn Mazur. Live performance brought out the subtle melodic beauty of the compositions and gave an extended insight into the delicacy and restraint of the trio’s richly layered unity of improvisation. It was fascinating to see how such a modern sound is created with these instruments.

The hurdy-gurdy is associated with European folk music, but brings a versatile textural and melodic responsiveness to jazz playing under the fingers of Matthias Loibner. It’s like a monster violin bowed by a hand crank, with a set of keys (or tangents) to pitch the strings, allowing for violin-like melodic playing, enriched by a set of resonating drone strings, and another set that Loibner can pluck for a taut guitar-like sound.

The Hang (don’t call it a ‘hang drum’) is the UFO-shaped metal idiophone that was produced by the PANArt company between 2000 and 2013. More familiar to jazz than the hurdy-gurdy as the signature melodic-percussive heart of Portico Quartet’s music, it’s vibrantly tonal and sounds like a cross between a marimba and a steelpan. It makes everything sound like an underwater forest of coral. Played by Peter Rosmanith alongside his subtle and responsive touch on percussion it adds a shimmering warmth to the group’s mixture of acoustic and electronic sounds.

Introducing In a Silent Way, trumpeter Franz Hautzinger explained that they perform fellow Austrian Zawinul’s meisterwerk “a little in Ave Maria style”. As a youth, Hautzinger had to play Ave Maria in church and was always nervous during weddings. As soon as he could, he never played it again. When the group was recording their own In a Silent Way he said he realised “we had a new Ave Maria”. The composition’s beauty and delicacy is captured perfectly in the trio’s atmospheric sound with drones, tonal drums, and Hautzinger’s fragile trumpet tone and use of electronic pedals, microtonality and ‘noise’ effects blowing away from the mouthpiece. Their evocation of Ave Maria is subtle beyond explanation, but when I listened back to the album, I knew exactly what he meant.

Final applause for Mattias Loibner, Peter Rosmanith and Franz Hautzinger


AJ Dehany is based in London and writes independently about music, art and stuff. ajdehany.co.uk

POSTCRIPT/FOOTNOTE: Pop quiz. What nationality is Mozart? Austrian? German? No, you cry, Mozart is universal! Well okay, since you ask. Mozart was born in 1756 in Salzburg, which was at that time capital of the Archbishopric of Salzburg, an ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. In 1803 the archbishopric was secularised by Napoleon and transferred to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1805 it was annexed by the Austrian Empire, but in 1809 transferred to the Kingdom of Bavaria, who gave it back to Austria after the Congress of Vienna in 1816. It became part of Austria-Hungary in 1866. When the Empire was dissolved following World War I, Salzburg was briefly part of the new German Austria before the establishment of the First Austrian Republic in 1919. It was annexed into the Third Reich in 1938, and after World War II returned to Austria. So the real answer to the question “What nationality is Mozart?” is probably “Don’t ask.”

PERSONNEL

Franz Hautzinger : Trumpet (pedals, Roland cab and Fender miniamp)
Matthias Loibner : Hurdy-gurdy (mac)
Peter Rosmanith : Hang & percussion (cajon, large drum, small drum, gourd, 2x crash, small ride, mini hihat, chimes made of chubb keys)

SET LISTS

1. Aufbrechen
2. Improvisation
3. Kleines Halali
4. Schlafmohn
5. Improvisation (Intro-Franz-Wind)
6. Standlicht
7. Karussell

1. In a Silent Way
2. Improvisation (Intro Matthias)
3. Mostbirnenbaum
4. Improvisation
5. Kamelschlittenfahrt
6. Improvisation
7. Habibi
8. Hawara (encore)
9. Heimweg (encore)

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