JK3 or Jacob Karlzon Trio: the best of contemporary
jazz crossover on stage in Essen
Concert at Der Philarmonie, Essen, Germany, January 29th,
by Monica Mazzitelli
Jacob Karlzon - piano,
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.