The group (Björn Lücker Aquarian Jazz Ensemble) was impressive all round, notably the leader’s thoughtful, highly melodic compositions...
Drummer Björn Lücker has long established his status as an eminent practitioner of his art, whose horizon extends far beyond the limits of his instrument.For four years now his Aquarian Jazz Ensemble has been creating a multi-faceted and border-crossing variety of contemporary European Jazz of the highest quality, using improvisation as well as composition, both cool und passionate, innovative and at the same time grounded in tradition.
The classic Modern Jazz quintet, like this group led by Hamburg drummer Björn Lücker, has long had a special place on the scene, even before the legendary groups of John Coltrane and Miles Davis. The improvisational qualities of the musicians, supported by a structure of purposefully open compositions which bring out each member’s playfulness and mutual curiosity, enables them to find plenty of interested listeners among the many album releases. This one sounds at times like the bubbling mass of sound of Charlie Mingus, out of which each instrumental voice rises with all its ferocity and dives back in to the flow, only to morph from the lyrical to the expressive in a duet between Tenor Sax and Fender Rhodes. The live recording from Hamburg’s “Bar 227” should also make plenty of venues and promoters reach for their phones, because Björn Lücker’s Aquarian Jazz Ensemble sounds like a convincing artistic - and crowd-pleasing - presence on stage. tHo
In a blindfold test this quintet album by drummer Björn Lücker could almost pass as a Kenny Wheeler ensemble recording. Like Wheeler, Lücker uses catchy themes, which he arranges colourfully (and at times very freely) and then equips them with harmonic hooks. Both offer, after these multifaceted openings, ample opportunity for extended individual exploration of the thematic landscape by their co-musicians, lined with backings full of tension. Lücker himself only indulges in a few solo features, but always holds the strings together with his complex but slender grooves. Even if Björn Lücker looks at us slightly skeptically from the front cover: The title’s promise is kept unequivocally. All five personalities shine from each musical building block, the quintet always creates as one. Only the origin of the name of the band Lücker needs to explain to us one day.
Drummer and composer Björn Lücker is one of the veterans of the hanseatic Jazz scene, along with pianist Buggy Braune, who again and again impress with their innovative attitudes. Like with the debut album of the Aquarian Jazz Ensemble, founded 4 years ago. Don’t be deceived by the cover, where band leader Lücker slouches on a decommissioned cinema chair, his snare drum next to him, looking grumpy and stoic: With Buggy Braune on piano and Rhodes, bassist Oliver Karstens and horn players Claas Ueberschär and Sebastian Gille, he has assembled a group of high calibre, which elegantly masters many a precisely arranged and catchy tune, fully abandons itself to the beauty of the themes and savours the freedom it is given in some of the more open, sketchy forms. Clever horn riffs, romantic melodies, soloistic escapades, echoes of the Carribean in “My Island”, sharp post-bop lines and an adorably hypnotic opening which is reprised at the end of the album with an equally strapping alternate take - all of this illustrates the title’s dialectic.
Björn Lücker (d) and the Aquarian Jazz Ensemble (Claas Ueberschär - tpt/fl g, Sebastian Gille - ts/ss, Buggy Braune - p, Oliver Karstens - b] presents Solidaire/Solitaire [Unit 4476). Control is the earmark on this recording of all Lücker originals. The music, on this recording, has a sense of great tension as it unfolds slowly and with remarkable reserve. Much of the time a drums presence is not even audible. The effect on much of the music here is like walking in a clear field and eventually finding yourself engulfed by a forest; you listen to the intro of the music and almost imperceptibly a body of playing surrounds you. As the music develops the musicians warm to the occasion and dig in. The leader only takes one solo, beautifully constructed and similar to much of his compositional constructs, on “Turns”. In contrast to the ambiance of other compositions, “My Island” is a charming calypso which brings to mind Randy Weston. In short the music/release can be heard/viewed from many vantages and offers quite a heavy listening experience, if desired. Give this close attention.
Exciting fare, which Hamburg drummer Björn Lücker presents us with here, in terms of melody and harmony. It’s a variety which we usually expect from band leading singers, harmony or solo instrumentalists. But Lücker proves with his recently released production that he - even though at home in the rhythm section - masters the full spectrum of compositional work and is capable of creating both his own and his soloists’ and accompanists’ arrangements. Lücker doesn’t just see himself as a bridge builder within his own group though, he also manages the unification of Jazz and modern music, which is why his current project “Solidaire/Solitaire” works so well - even though conceptually the different sections seem to be in conflict with each other here. According to Lücker this symbolises the dialectic of individual and collective. Id