„Paul, Rick and River“ is a programmatic title for the new album from Munich-based Paul Brändle Trio, a Modern Jazz group led by the eponymous 31-year old guitar player and band leader. Playing together for years and across continents, this recording manifests the trio’s current state of matter, focusing on a no-gimmicks approach and a classic, melodic style of musical world-building.
66-year old US drummer Richard „Rick“ Hollander moved to Munich over 30 years ago. Paul has extensively worked and toured with him in the last decade. On one of those tours, 27-year old bass player River Adomeit – US-born, but living in Amsterdam –, joined them spontaneously when the bass player in Rick’s quartet dropped out due to illness.
„When assembling my trio, I deliberately included these two characters“, Brändle states. „Rick is an experienced drummer with a traditional but very creative way of playing. River, while being an exceptional musician himself, doesn’t so much build on virtuosity, but their musical approach is more subtle. Both complement one another really well.“
The album was recorded with Squama producer Martin Brugger. When it came to choosing the material, Paul opted for three of his own compositions („Homecoming“, „Fab“, and „Awake“), one of Rick’s compositions („As If There Were Simple Times“), and three standards („Round Midnight“, „Moonlight In Vermont“, and „A Flower Is a Lonesome Thing“).
„Paul, Rick and River“ sounds substantially different to Paul’s work in German groove jazz outfit Fazer. His own trio is indebted to a much more traditional, conventional style of playing. „Still, the idea of progress is deeply engrained in the jazz tradition as well“, Brändle says and points to the inclusion of „Round Midnight“; Monk, who wrote the tune, shaped bebop in the 1940s, but his unique, sometimes dissonant style of playing wasn’t well-received with the mainstream crowds at first.
With a long-standing history in jazz, the trio constellation of guitar, bass and drums automatically brings up references – whether it’s Grant Green’s legendary trio records on Blue Note, or Pat Metheny’s early ECM works. „Paul, Rick and River“ owes much to the melodic, colorful sound of the 1976 classic „Bright Size Life“, a record that Brändle ordered at his local drug store when he was just 14, a young guitar player in rural Bavaria deciding to focus on jazz after eight years of classical training. Almost two decades later, this album adds to a rich musical heritage that inspired Paul, Rick and River in the first place.
24.08.23 Sometimes, you have to negotiate in the music. When you play alone, you negotiate with yourself.
When did you first start getting interested in musical improvisation?
Coming from a musical family, I started to play the guitar at a young age. Improvisation was already a part of what I was doing then because I wanted to play with my parents (who played guitar and piano) and my older brother (who played drums). So in order to do so I had to listen to what they play and try to play along. When I was 12, after a few years of lessons, I remember I played the song “Lady in black” with my dad and my brother at a music school recital. The head of the school heard me and put me into the big band. That became my first exposure to jazz.
Which artists, approaches, albums or performances involving prominent use of improvisation captured your imagination in the beginning?
After joining the school big band, a few different artists played an important role for me: First Carlos Santana, because we played “Black Magic Woman,” “Oye Como Va,” and “Evil Ways.” It’s rock music, but he really is a great improviser. …