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Dear World

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Dear World
Dear World


One of the most potent and creative voices on Germany's modern jazz scene, saxophonist Johannes Enders has brought a profound understanding of the jazz tradition and an urge to swing to his previous 12 albums as a leader. With Dear World & Hikikomori , he takes things up a couple of notches. A dynamic double-CD documenting his concurrent interests in both acoustic jazz and electronic experimentation, Enders' latest Enja outing finds him pushing the envelope in two wildly different directions. And the results are equally rewarding on both ends. A professor of jazz saxophone since 2009 at the University of Music and Theater Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Leipzig, Enders enriched his own jazz pedigree through his studies from 1992-1994 with saxophonist Dave Liebman , trumpeter Donald Byrd , drummer Jimmy Cobb and bassist Reggie Workman at New York's New School, where fellow saxophonist Chris Potter, trumpeter Roy Hargrove and pianist Brad Mehldau were among his classmates. For the past 15 years, Enders has been experimenting in his home studio with an ongoing project he dubbed 'Enders Room.' As he explained, "I started recording kind of like Steely Dan, overdubbing a lot of tracks myself at home and then inviting people to overdub. The music was both on the electric side and the acoustic side. Then two years ago I put together a touring band that could fit the vibe of both kinds of music. So now I have this great band that combines all the sounds I have in my head." Many of the pieces on Dear World / Hikikomori emanated from his Enders Room experiments at home. He was able to bring them to fully-realized form with his stellar band consisting of rising star German trumpeter Bastian Stein, Norwegian vibraphonist Karl Ivar Refseth (from the indie-electronica band Notwist) and a Swiss rhythm section of pianist Jean-Paul Brodbeck, electric bassist Wolfgang Zwiauer and drummer Gregor Hilbe. "I like to put people together that are totally open-minded in all directions so everything is possible," he said. Throughout the Double Album Enders strikes an organic balance between intelligent writing and more freewheeling sections that highlight his versatile crew. "Over the years, jazz became so intellectual," he explained. "And for this project I wanted to capture that feeling of when I was 16, 17 and was so on fire for the music. I had all these heroes back then like Jaco Pastorius, Michael Brecker, Steps Ahead and Gil Evans. They all had this fire that I miss sometimes in modern jazz today." Enders opens the acoustic portion Hikikomori with the gently melodic "Old Promise." Full of dynamic interaction and intricate harmonic movement between the vibes-piano combination of Refseth and Brodbeck, it reveals a strong Brecker Brothers-ish signature on the frontline between Enders and Stein. This urgent 5/4 number fueled by the driving rhythmic hookup from Zwiauer and Hilbe also carries a hint of melancholy, as Enders alludes to in the title. "It's about the importance of making a promise," he explained. "You should always be aware of what you say, especially in making a promise to someone." "Flash na Firinn" opens with tightly-orchestrated staccato statements before the piece opens up to a relaxed, flowing tenor solo by the leader over a polyrhythmic pulse. Stein follows with bold tones, abundant facility and flawless intonation on his bristling trumpet solo. Like many of his tunes on Hikikomori that conjure a mood, this one feels like something from the early '60s Blue Note catalog. "I think that was one of the best periods for jazz and I tried to capture this in this composition," said Enders. "In the back of my mind, I had this kind of feeling of Herbie Hancock's Speak Like a Child on this tune." He also explained that the title of the song is a Scottish phrase meaning 'a flash of truth.' "I just like the sound of this Scottish old language, and it's significant because in our time now, 'truth' is such an abused term. It's hard to say what is true and what is not true anymore. And I believe that people are craving the truth today." The evocative "Visiones," named for the Greenwich Village jazz club that Enders frequented during his early '90s tenure in New York City, reflects the vibe of that particular time and place. "Visiones was the place to be for this type of music back then. It's where I met Billy Hart, Richie Bierach and Dave Liebman all great mentors of mine." The expansive, suite-like piece opens with a slow-grooving 6/8 vibe, then abruptly shifts into an energized section featuring tight unisons on the frontline by Enders and guest Micha Acher (co-founder of Notwist) on trumpet. Reverting back to probing introspection, Enders takes his time exploring over the hypnotic vamp with a breathy Ben Webster-ish tone. Acher then solos with melodic ingenuity and rhythmic assuredness over an energized section, spurred on by Hilbe's propulsive drumming. Vibist Refseth then stretches over a mysterious rubato section before the ensemble returns to the energized theme with Brodbeck wailing over the top, channeling his inner McCoy Tyner with harmonic daring on his intensely swinging piano solo. As they build to an intense crescendo, Enders takes it out with some forceful tenor blowing. The solemn "Good Bye Waltz" is underscored by sparse tuba lines from Micha Acher along with Hilbe's gentle brushwork and Zwiauer's gentle guitar-like tones on his bass. Enders takes a more spacious, deliberate approach on this delicate number. "I wanted to have this contrast of the more dark beginning and then opening up in the end into this brighter thing. It's kind of like when you say goodbye to someone who has departed. It's hard, but if you finish the process of saying goodbye, then it gets easier." "Hikikomori" is an invigorating number that builds to an ecstatic peak with some cathartic blowing by the leader. The title, he explained, is a reference to a current day phenomenon in Japan of an abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males. "There are almost 800,000 young men who don't want leave the house. They just want to hang out in front of the video screen or on their smartphones, playing games and missing out on life." Enders' high register wailing at the end of the piece, he said, "is like a wake up call for those people who are locked into this attitude." "Good Loser" is a metrically trickery number that deftly mixes 5/8 and 7/4 time signatures. "It's kind of a strange bossa," said Enders. "And the message of the song is, 'It's really good to not take complex problems or losses too seriously.'" Brodick shines here with a brilliant piano solo and Stein contributes a sterling trumpet solo before trading some spirited eights with Enders at the tag. "Hikikomori Ballade," a brooding echo of the title track, is a delicate gem featuring some poignant muted trumpet by Stein, while "Reconciliation" showcases Enders' heroic tenor solo, punctuated by some active commentary from the kit by Hilbe. Regarding the evocative title, the composer said, "One of the hardest things is to forgive and reconcile. But it's also one of the most healing things." "Tember," underscored by Hilbe's loping Elvin Jones-ish swing vibe, sets a warm, relaxed mood for Enders' breathy tenor work while the brief "Good Loser Reprise" closes out the acoustic portion of the 2-CD set in a trance-like mood. The electric portion Dear World kicks off with "Animale Illegale," an ominous, futuristic anthem right out of Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, Blade Runner. Emerging from the entrancing electronica pulse created over the opening four minutes, Enders probes freely on tenor sax through the last minute of the piece, tweaked by Brodbeck's harmonically subversive comping on piano and Fender Rhodes. "No Judgment Day" is a moody meditation that opens with Enders and trumpeter Stein linked on the frontline over a menacing ostinato. An intricate and complex piece brimming with intelligent contrapuntal writing, it has Brodbeck pushing the harmonic envelope in the last minute of the piece in a tasty piano solo that flows over Zwiauer's insistent bass groove. Their reprise of the restful "Good Bye Waltz," underscored by Refseth's shimmering vibes ostinato, has Bastian adding to the mystery on muted trumpet and Enders blowing with warm, breathy tones on tenor. The drum 'n' bass flavored "Dear World" is a rush of kinetic energy right out of the gate. Enders adds low-end intrigue here with a bass clarinet line, which is doubled by Brodbeck's electric piano. As the piece picks up steam, Enders switches to tenor sax and wails over the hyper groove. "Meta Comet" is another surging, electrified jam tempered with Brodbeck layering on both acoustic and electric piano to create an interesting latticework pattern of sound. Refseth opens up on vibes here, wailing with impunity over Brodbeck's provocative comping. Enders himself doesn't enter the fray until the 6-minute mark, launching into some warm, intervallic leaping on his horn recalling Eddie Harris. The leader's bass clarinet creates a dark, sinister undercurrent on "In No Books," which has him blowing some lovely, lyrical tenor sax near the end of that spacious number. "Alien Roommates" is an appealing, easy groover with an infectious melodic hook. The four "Minimal Response" interludes sprinkled throughout Hikikomori are strictly ambient soundscapes to cleanse the sonic palette. The electric portion concludes on a more abrasive note with the brief ele


  1. Name
  2. Dear World
  3. Minimal Response 1
  4. Good Bye Waltz
  5. Minimal Response 2
  6. Meta Comet
  7. Animale Illegale
  8. Minimal Response 3
  9. No Judgement Day
  10. Good Loser
  11. In No Books
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