Rainer Böhm – What If (2022) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44,1kHz]

Rainer Böhm - What If (2022) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44,1kHz] Download

Rainer Böhm – What If (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 50:56 minutes | 553 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Yellowbird Records

It is as if all the qualities for which the Ravensburg-based pianist and composer Rainer Böhm, who lives in Cologne, is repeatedly praised come together and blossom in these sextet recordings: His stupendous technique, his melodic inventiveness, his melancholic grounding, his excursions towards elements of classical and contemporary serious music, his interplay of melodic design and chordal accompaniment, his pronounced sense of dramaturgy, his balance between improvisation and the composed, his high emotionality, his search for a roughened euphony, his rhythmic accents and, above all, his playing in the service of the respective cause.

On more than sixty recordings one can listen to this and follow the development of this famous pianist. The 45-year-old has been awarded many prestigious prizes for his work. As a professor of jazz piano and ensemble conducting in Mannheim and Nuremberg, he was one of the youngest in his field in this country. With his German, Swiss and British sextet, he now combines all these qualities in a larger format. To call this a stroke of luck would be an understatement. The joy of playing, the wit, the clever interweaving and the soloistic flights of fancy are so integrated into an elastically sustainable, clever concept that you really hear an organic band. The nuances are wide-ranging, the details are just right and always ensure an entertaining progress far from any chattiness. So the result is greater than the sum of the parts.

With the rhythm section consisting of bassist Arne Huber and drummer Jonas Burgwinkel, Rainer Böhm has repeatedly played in various constellations. In addition, he has formed a dream band with the wind section with the British trumpeter Percy Pursglove, the Swiss tenor saxophonist Domenic Landolf and the fringe Berliner Wanja Slavin on alto saxophone, which navigates through eleven Böhm compositions with finesse and dynamism. It is as if Rainer Böhm, with this exquisite wide-screen instrumentation in a large format, bundles his previous work and makes it shimmer in ever new facets. Each of the compositions remains stringent, richly coloured and distinctive. All in all, this results in a convincing statement in which the contributions of six individualists assign themselves to a large form in ever new twists and turns.

At the beginning, “Past And Present” captivates with hymn-like melodicism of high emotionality, into which Wanja Slavin soon steers one of his unexpected and original solos, without powerfully leaving the context of the band. In general, it is this close interweaving that shapes and carries all the pieces. “Flying Sea Star” then starts exactly there and continues to write the story in new timbres until the band sets off for a furious collective solo, so to speak. “Poly Interlude” is based on a polyrhythmic concept that is cleverly stepped out and leads through different time signatures. Police” is also permeated by various polyrhythms, including bar changes in the solo part. The title track “What If” is very expressive, while “Decision Maker” swings in rich harmonies. With “Octopus”, “Time-Circle” and “The Way You Think” three piano trio pieces follow, which shimmer and swing in a wonderful richness of colour. The final sextet compositions “The Wooden Box” and “Le Pardon” finally slip into different musical garments between impressionistic, lyrical and energetic to end in a sweeping ballad in which the ancestors of Ellington and Mingus appear.

They shine through, but this music is far too well conceived to be copied. It is decidedly a European music that has emancipated itself from jazz from the mother country. This is also evident in the compositional principles of Olivier Messiaen’s modes applied by Rainer Böhm in some of his pieces. In various formations, he has repeatedly dealt with classical and new contemporary music and transformed it into a jazz context. What is important for Rainer Böhm, whose crystalline, versatile and imaginative piano playing always speeds through these recordings in a different way, is that despite all the intellectual superstructure, his music remains animated and vital. This album is virtually a prime example of the emotionality he strives for. It shows him at the height of his art as a pianist, composer and arranger. (Ulrich Steinmetzger)


1. Rainer Böhm – Past and Present (03:32)
2. Rainer Böhm – Flying Sea Star (04:48)
3. Rainer Böhm – Poly Interlude (01:52)
4. Rainer Böhm – Polizei (04:47)
5. Rainer Böhm – What If (06:50)
6. Rainer Böhm – Decision Maker (04:18)
7. Rainer Böhm – Octopus (04:01)
8. Rainer Böhm – Time – Circle (05:13)
9. Rainer Böhm – The Way You Think (05:07)
10. Rainer Böhm – The Wooden Box (07:07)
11. Rainer Böhm – Le Pardon (03:17)


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