The conglomerate of euphony – Lars Danielsson – Playful lightness meets highly complex compositions – Photos

May20,2024

40 years of the State Jazz Festival is a long time, peppered with big names from the scene who paid their respects in Tübingen and that evening, co-organizer Florian Dohrmann’s “request concert”, as he emphasized when making the announcement, took place in the KSK Carree.

The guest was Liberetto, the quartet of Swedish bassist Lars Danielsson, which has gained a reputation as one of the best jazz ensembles in Europe in recent years. There are now four Liberetto albums and the majority of the setlist that evening consisted of the compositions from their last release “Cloudland”.

Danielsson, who was born in Gothenburg in 1958, initially studied classical cello, but turned to jazz music after being impressed by a jazz concert with Niels-Henning Pedersen. Greats such as John Abercrombie, John Scofield, Charles Lloyd, the singers Cecilie Norby and Victoria Tolstoy, as well as many other musicians adorn his CV.

In 1985 he founded the Lars Danielsson Quartet together with saxophonist David Liebman, pianist Bobo Stenson and drummer John Christensen. He has been an integral part of the ACT record label since 2004 with a large number of recordings. The CD 4 Wheel Drive, released here in 2019, which he recorded together with Nils Landgren, Michael Wollny and Wolfgang Haffner, was the best-selling jazz album in Germany that same year.

From the first gentle note there was a crackling energy in the air of the KSK Carree. After a short while, gently simmering tones turn into a precise groove, which is provided by the formidable drummer Magnus Öström. You have to rub your eyes every now and then, because the funky tones Danielsson conjured up from his double bass were extraordinary and impressive. He exploits the full range of timbres and expressive possibilities that this instrument offers, but never forgets the meaning of the melody.

Guitarist John Paricelli always joins in with his lyrical playing. In “Nikita’s Dream”, the first piece of the evening, the versatility of all the protagonists is shown. The French pianist Gregory Privat takes on the theme with all composure and then plays his solo, which is overflowing with creativity, with outstanding precision. Every musician enjoys their freedom, but the core of the music pieces consists of this blind musical understanding, the joyful interaction, which can constantly be seen in the musicians’ faces.

In “the 5th Grade”, Öström on the drum set drives his fellow musicians into a magical groove again, Privat chases his fingers over the keys again and has an irresistible diabolical grin on his face as he ends his imaginative excursion into improvisation and all four of them once again meet spectacularly on a topic, which sends the audience into a storm of enthusiasm.

Sound alchemist and magician Lars Danielsson

It’s almost unbelievable the sounds Danielsson keeps coaxing out of his instrument. Whether electronically distorted, gently bowed, strummed or plucked, he is immersed in his very own world of bass playing. Especially in his extremely lyrical solo, in which he incorporates fragments of “Both sides Now” by the American singer Joni Mitchell in all possible variations, you are touched and fascinated at the same time. Many a viewer will definitely feel a shiver run down their spines in a positive sense, as the saying goes: Goosebumps never lie. But somehow all four musicians work their magic together on this evening, each on their own instrument, and the alchemy of this perfect instrumentation results in this incomparable, partly lyrical, partly fast-paced conglomerate of euphony.

The Swedish pianist Esbjörn Svensson, who unfortunately died much too early a few years ago, would have had great fun at this concert evening, not only because his former colleague Jonas Öström can now contribute his extraordinary skills to this team, which he did towards the end of the evening with a fantastic and showed an extremely innovative solo. Fragments of the concert were a real homage to the Ebjörn Svensson Trio. A breathtaking concert evening came to an end with the crisp and fast-paced “Desert of Catanga” and a lyrical, soothing encore.

One of the “greatest jazz moments” in the forty years of the Tübingen State Jazz Festival, as some spectators said. Speaking of a dream concert, I could imagine that many of those who attended the evening would definitely wish to be able to experience this concert again and even for me, who has been attending jazz concerts since 1973, this evening was an absolute highlight in the last 50 years. Chapeau Liberetto!

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