Jazzitalia - JK3 or Jacob Karlzon Trio: the best of contemporary jazz crossover on stage in Essen
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JK3 or Jacob Karlzon Trio:
the best of contemporary jazz crossover on stage in Essen

Concert at Der Philarmonie, Essen, Germany, January 29th, 2014
by Monica Mazzitelli

Fai click qui per leggere la versione in italiano

Jacob Karlzon - piano, keyboards, electronics
Hans Andersson - double bass
Robert Mehmet Ikiz - drums

Another sold out concert for the highest caliber crossover jazz trio around: regardless of your personal taste about music, these three gentlemen really know how to play with elegant perfection and reach a "complex simplicity" that is by no means easy to achieve. And still, you will not stumble into anything resembling a virtuous complacency in the dynamics of the trio, it all rather seems a wonderful game of fraternal complicity between three giants who play with the same naive enthusiasm of three young kids strumming cover songs in the house's cellar after school. Having never attended a JK3 gig with the previous drummer Jonas Holgersson, there is luckily no way to make comparisons, but the young Ikiz (Turkish but naturalized Swedish) is a phenomenon, a pure instigator, with a couple of gears above the average: his ability to transform and his groove. Actually, to be truthful, it is only the birth certificates the lie about the other two on stage.

No matter how sublime Jacob Karlzon is as a pianist, he still keeps a lovely "next door guy" attitude: humble, sympathetic, emotional. He made several declarations of affection to his mates during the concert, going as far as to say that he would prefer Christmas holidays to be abolished as they keep him away from his friends! It is true that the three always look for each other's eyes while they play, smirking, winking, seeking each other during the solos as if making love. Adorable smiling jugglers.

For the set list, Karlzon chose almost only pieces from his last two albums, especially from More which he almost played in full, using many bases that he controls directly from his computer placed next to the piano. The beginning of the concert is always Running, one of the most beautifully catchy pieces of the album (which anyone else would wisely use as the last encore), followed by Nilha, where he embeds delicate moments of beautiful piano playing.

Dirty is admittedly a heavy metal inspired track (a genre loved by Karlzon) that uses a recorded electric guitar sound. The feeling is perhaps a little "fake", even though this slightly unpleasant effect is compensated by the great strength of the piece. In Fool's Gold Andersson's very sculptural and articulate intro melts into a blues rhythm while Ikiz works his drums thoroughly with his brushes, pulling out of it an amazing groove with almost nothing, really, and this baseless piece becomes so full. The fifth song before the break is an unreleased new track that will maybe need some more rehearsing, but after a while it does take off through Karlzon's fingers.

Back from the break with the magnificent cover of Nik Kershaw's The Riddle, with Ikiz creating tiny rhythmical sculptures from his percussion, dueting with the minimalist Karlzon going splendidly backbeat until Andersson comes in with pleasant dissonances. Ikiz and Karlzon continue teasing each other on Newby, and even though Ikiz never poses as a "phenomenon" he is a true juggler with his instrument: beating it, punching it, stroking it, but never losing eye contact with Karlzon, who follows him percussively until the lowest octave. A final paroxysm where Ikiz seems split in two between drums and percussion and leaves the audience totally breathless. The next track, Between us, sweetly begins with a kind of "American style" piano playing and opens to a central double bass solo during which Andersson literally nestles on the lower octaves of the instrument, until they are all put out to sea on a soft mat of electronics, which makes someone in the audience start to moan a little... the atmosphere grows in fact quite intimate, you can breathe a sort of shared feeling.

To close the gig Karlzon allows himself some deserved flaunting with a "jazzier" piece, Departure, where he shows his extraordinary virtuosity, but yet not an end unto itself, causing a masterful performance from Ikiz and the effect is that of a double simultaneous solo. Solos that seek each other but still remain parallel, without melting one inside the other.
And, perhaps not surprisingly, the septuagenarian husband of the septuagenarian lady sitting in front of me chooses this piece to place a gentle and loving caress on his wife's back and I think that perhaps the secret of a such long-lasting love lies precisely in this: two beautiful solos, that even when looking for each other and resonating together, do not cancel each other.

Related articles:

Interview with Monica Mazzitelli - "The Coltrane Code": "Jazz is my great love, and although I just listen to new European jazz I also wanted to humbly tribute John Coltrane, who stands for me as one of the greatest musicians of all time." (Marco Losavio)


"Huge expectations for this almost-debut gig of the Swedish pianist...an intense and joyful complicity between the three musicians was there..." (Monica Mazzitelli)


Magnus Öström Live in Istanbul, Liquid Boiling Energy: "A completely sold out concert in a city where jazz really beats like few other places in Europe and the world. A musical scene to pay close attention to, and one that pays close attention to what is going on." (Monica Mazzitelli)


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