1. BOOGALOO IN BLUE (C.Koch) 9:33
2. TESTPILOT (C.Koch) 6:40
3. JAMAL'S KEY (C.Koch) 6:33
4. PRELUDE TO A MIDSUMMER __NIGHT (C.Koch) 7:12
5. SISTER SUSI (C.Koch) 7:59
6. COORAWONG (C.Raible) 8:13
7. IN WALKED CESAR (C.Koch) 6:27
8. SIMPLE PLEASURES (C.Koch) 9:27
Claus Koch & the boperators - live at the unterfahrt
AFRO-CUBAN JAZZ COLORS
Ralf Hesse, trumpet
Claus Koch, tenor sax
Claus Raible, piano
Wolfgang Kriener, bass
Michael Keul, drums
Cesar Granados, percussion
As the head of Jazz Reviews for MusicWeb Internationa I, the largest and we think possibly the tost music review site on the web, I have to cover a wide spectrum of our peat music from traditional jazz to contemporary music. Usually this is very enjoyable, but then are times when I wonder whether some of thecontempoary music is jazz at all and occasionally if it is music at all It was against this experience that the first time I heard Claus Koch and his band on their previous CD "Snook-ing" I was mightily impressed. Here was a band as bright and fresh as today and in my review of their CD one of the things I said, was that I would love to hear them live. It appears that my wish was granted, because this session was recorded live at the Munich Jazz Club "Unterfahrt" in the summer of last year. In Europe we consistently under-rate our own jazz musicians, years ago there was a hup gap between the ability of the Americans and the locals, but no more this group could hold it's own anywhere in the world. Claus's tenor playing is terrific, he has absorbed the lessons of the great American musicians and developed a style of his own, he has a fine warm sound on the instrument and he plays long and interesting lines in the way Zoot Sims and At Conn did. His playing also reminds me at times of another hero of mine, Tubby Hayes, because of the confidence he exhibits in all his solos knowing that his technique won't let him down in the delivery. However this is no "one man band", front line partner Raff Hesse is another confident self assured musician. Obviously influenced by Dizzy Gillespie, but with shades of Art Farmer, Chet Baker and Clifford Brown in his playing.
The rhythm section is very sure footed, it is sometimes in Latin numbers that this department can stumble, but not here, Claus Raible provides just the kind of support the front line needs and he is also a fine soloist. Bass player Wolfgang Kriener and drummer Michael Keul complete this fine rhythm section, not forgetting the contribution of Panamanian Conga specialist Cesar Granados, who consistently helps the band to swing on this set of Afro originals.
That brings me to the compositions, Claus Koch wrote all the music save for Coorawong, that track is a composition of pianist, Claus Raible. Every track has a great "feel", the melodies are strong enough and the changes sufficiently interesting to entice every soloist to dig deep and create really exciting and stimulating solos. I tried to identify my favourite track, but I enjoyed everything on the album so much that there was no point. If you look at the background to all these musicians, the fact that they are all outstanding is not surprising, they have all received the very best musical education and they have all played with top US musicians. They also still have the maturity that only comes from very wide experience. What is a surprise is how well they all play together, it isn't always so, I have reviewed many CD's where there is an obvious weakness in the line up, but not here. Latin jazz has always been popular with musicians and fans alike. I am sure that this album will bring pleasure to jazz fans across the spectrum because it contains the essence of what the jazz performance should be. Good tunes well played by a bind of outstanding soloists, that swings like mad, whilst maintaining an air of assured quality throughout.
This album will stay on your turntable, it has on mine!
Don Mather January 2005