Pianist Masako Ohta and trumpet player Matthias Lindermayr’s music flows in gentle waves, moving with ease between every theme they imagine. Their music is largely improvised, embracing chance and following sound down winding paths. Their debut collaborative album, MMMMH, highlights this loose process through its relaxed pace, surprising turns, and drifting style. The album presents small vignettes that each encapsulate their free-flowing motion and tranquil melodies, drawing from simple ideas to create a fully bloomed, radiant sound.

Written by Masako Ohta (p) and Matthias Lindermayr (tr)
Recorded by Jan Krause at Mastermix Studio, Munich
Mixed and Mastered by Martin Ruch
Produced by Martin Brugger
Designed by Maximilian Schachtner

Ohta and Lindermayr are two Munich-based artists who each have worked on a variety of acclaimed projects as soloists and collaborators. Lindermayr is widely praised for his work as a jazz soloist and in his ensemble Fazer, while Ohta is known for her work in classical and contemporary classical music, where she regularly undertakes projects that bridge genres and disciplines. While Ohta has also maintained an improvisatory practice throughout her career, MMMMH represents her first in-studio, improvisation recording project.

The two musicians first met in 2019 at an award ceremony—both were honored with the music sponsorship award of the city of Munich—where they quickly learned they loved each other’s music. From that performance, they decided to begin meeting up to improvise together for fun; when they got together and played, they were free, following the music wherever it wanted to take them. When it came time to turn their music as a duo into an album, they continued to embrace this intuitive approach. Many of the pieces on MMMMH started from a kernel of an idea—like playing a piece entirely using the pitch A (“La”)—then branched outward from there. But they never came up with anything too specific or restrictive. The process of music-making was spontaneous, built on embracing the idea of chance. In fact, some of the pieces are different every time they play them. Ohta remembers the spur-of-the-moment process as feeling “magical.”

While their music was always evolving into new territories, some of the tracks on MMMMH were born out of in-jokes or personal memories that ended up coloring their improvisations. “Olli’s Balloon,” for example, grew out of the ways Ohta was thinking about her grandchild over the past couple of years. It’s been a dark time, and Ohta wanted to make a piece of music that felt a little more joyful, imagining her grandchild, Olli, holding a balloon and releasing it into the atmosphere with glee. That image drives the track’s lightness and buoyancy, providing a little bit of shine in a time that has often felt dim. But these concepts never overtake the music, or the method of making it. Rather, they’re the ideas that Ohta and Lindermayr used to build lattices of material, jumping off from a tiny starting point into something much larger.

Much of the duo’s music has been created in the casual setting of a friend’s apartment. That relaxed feeling extends throughout MMMMH, giving it a welcoming, intimate feeling. In fact, it was a friend who inspired the album’s unusual title: She told a story once about how she didn’t like clapping at the end of a concert. Instead, she felt, you should say “mmmmh,” like you might at the end of a delicious meal. And that’s why Lindermayr and Ohta bring to their music: a moment of gentle contemplation that leads to satisfaction.

Words by Vanessa Ague

  • BR Klassik

    Jazzalbum des Monats

    Nach einem köstlichen Essen ist es eine häufige Reaktion: "MMMMH". Ein Seufzen, das puren Genuss zum Ausdruck bringt. Die Pianistin Masako Ohta und der Trompeter Matthias Lindermayr haben so einen Genusszustand mit ihrer Musik auf ihrem neuen Album erzeugt.
    Der Förderpreis der Stadt München für Musik ist eine tolle Sache: 6000 Euro erhalten Musikerinnen und Musiker, um ihre Projekte zu realisieren. Noch schöner ist es, wenn aus dem Kennenlernen bei einer Preisverleihung ein musikalisches Miteinander entsteht. So geschehen im Jahr 2019: Masako Ohta und Matthias Lindermayr leben beide in München und erhielten den Förderpreis für Musik der Stadt. Bei der Preisverleihung lernten sie sich kennen - der Beginn einer der aufregendsten musikalischen Konstellationen der aktuellen Szene.

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  • 15 questions

    There are only two rules in improvisation: Be free and be honest.

    When did you first start getting interested in musical improvisation?

    Matthias Lindermayr: When I was around 15/16 years old. I started to play guitar in a band with some friends and wanted to integrate the trumpet for some solos. Before that I only played classical music. At that time I didn’ have any knowledge about the theory behind it.

    Masako Ohta: When I played the Mozart d minor, K.466 piano concerto, I wanted to improvise the cadenza myself. I was about 19 years old at that time.

    Which artists, approaches, albums or performances involving prominent use of improvisation captured your imagination in the beginning?

    ML: As a teenager I listened to a lot of progressive and avantgarde rock music that featured bigger improvised parts such as The Mars Volta, King Crimson, Can and so on. My first encounter with improvised jazz music was Bitches Brew by Miles Davis which opened the door to a new genre for me.

    MO: Concerts by Indian traditional musicians like Ravi Shankar, by The Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell, Paco De Lucía and by Egberto Gismonti & Nana Vasconcelos … etc. Performances by Min Tanaka, a Japanese dancer

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  • Masako Ohta

    The Japanese pianist Masako Ohta, coming from Tokyo, is active in the fields of classical and new music, improvisation, film scoring, and theatre music compositions. Masako Ohta was awarded the Förderpreis für Musik der Landeshauptstadt München 2018/2019. She is intensively involved with poetry, sound and music from Japan, Europe and other cultures and creates intercultural and interdisciplinary projects and concert series. She completed her piano studies at the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo and at the Hochschule (University) der Künste Berlin with Erich Andreas and György Sebök. She also attended master classes with András Schiff and György Kurtág.

  • Matthias Lindermayr

    Matthias Lindermayr, coming from a family of musicians (his father is a pianist and his mother teaches early music education), received classical piano lessons as a child; he learned to play the trumpet when he was twelve. He also played electric guitar in rock bands as a teenager. He studied jazz trumpet with Claus Reichstaller at the University of Music and Theatre in Munich, then began composition studies with Gregor Hübner. Tiger Okoshi proved to be an important mentor, with whom he studied at Berklee College of Music in 2014/2015. He continued his studies in 2016 at the Jazz Institute Berlin with John Hollenbeck and Gerard Presencer.

    • MMMMH

      180g vinyl, Repress comes with new edition silver risograph artprint

      • Stil:
      € 25
      • Sequence

        140g vinyl

        € 25€ 19
        • Triptych

          180g black vinyl, printed inner sleeve, risograph printed inlay

          € 25€ 19