Jo Beyer’s new CD ‘JO’ reviewed by Sammy Stein

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Jo Beyer says of creating this CD that the idea was to’ compose your favourite music, find your favourite musicians, give it a name’ and that is exactly what he has done.  Jo studied jazz drumming and has performed on radio, TV and with various combinations such as Isthmus and Sund. He has won several jazz prizes for his drumming including the Europaischer Burghauser jazzpries.

Here he plays alongside Saxophonist Sven Decker who has played with many bands and worked with Filippa Gojo and the Thomas Bracht trio. Pianist Roman Babik has played with his band The Roman Babik Urban Wedding Band, El Paso and Bima and guitarist Andreas Wahl has played with the trio Freie Wahl for many years.

The intro to the opening track ‘Die Bottroper Inderin’ is big and expansive with screaming guitar over thumping, demonstrative percussion and piano chords. It continues in much the same vein with the guitar dictating the theme and a supportive rhythm section until the delicious intervention of the tenor sax singing, swag-tailing and boasting with its mellifluous lines.  Travelling up and down the registers, folding in and out with the piano and percussion, positively purring at one point, the sax is a surprise and delight. ‘Der Schwadronierier’  is improvised sax over pretty, light piano before the track takes on a Latin beat for a short time before the repeated theme is echoed once more.  Jo Beyer’s drums lead and take a back-up role as needed and mould this track together from its disparate parts. The piano of Roman Babik is exceptional here, as once again is the sax from Sven Decker.  Gorgeous, resonant and fully developed, this is a track for the ears to enjoy. ‘4A Richtung Brabrand Nord’ (track 3) is different and shows a delicacy in some of the playing, particularly the upper register of the sax, which interweaves with the chordal presentation of the piano and percussive tinkering which is deftly delivered. It borrows a little from Claire Fischer’s ‘Du du liegst mir am Herzen’. The playful piano interlude is simply delightful, light and combined with the acoustic guitar briefly to provide a lighter moment or several.  Before you know it, the track switches into an acoustic guitar led section and ends with the trinkling piano tune- a happy little number with a lot going on, notably once again a terrific sax solo.

‘Agentenenten rennen ein Agentenentenrennen’ is tiinged with rock, a steadier, standard number with interesting piano interludes and interruptions. There is a free, improv feel to parts of this track, which is unexpected from the opening but a beautiful addition. Crashing piano notes over percussion in the middle section provide impetus, energy and intensity before the track devolves a little into something more of a fusion presentation with a slower, swingy part thrown-in. It redeems itself in spades in the closing stages however with the juxtaposed chords and percussive rhythms. Intriguing. ‘Dezember’ is gentle, atmospheric and spacey with everyone contributing little squeaks, riffs, sounds and helping create a quietness. ‘Ach komm shon! Aber so wie es deutsche Synchronsprecher in amerikanischen Filmen sagen’ is busy, fluid and with a familiar sounding theme. It feels a bit like everything and the kitchen sink as we have Hagen-like guitar over the rhythm section and then a bit of sax soloing over the top and then a piano bit before it gets just a bit repetitive.   ‘Ein Mondchichi geht nie zum Frisor’   is an incredible piece with over 8 minutes of fun for everyone.

There is beautiful emotive sax, clever percussion elements and some devilishly devious piano playing just before everyone crashes in on the party. There are pretty bits, dark bits and solos all woven together by some really clever arrangements, which allow the instruments to fold and weave into and out of each others’ solos with consummate ease. The drums playing as a solo instrument over the end section is worth the wait. ‘ Villeroy and Boch’ is another cleverly worked and well structured track offering the listener the chance to hear solos form each musician and some superb supportive work with differing rhythms held by the guitar, percussion and piano. This track holds may references to big band jazz of the past along with modernistic twists in its approach with the quieter, more vacuous sections, especially the piano and guitar pairing. The very clever heavy tenor playing coming in over the top of the lighter section is bliss and the finale to this piece with the sax soaring off into the ether over steadfast percussion is lifting in the extreme.  ‘Saure Weingummizungen ‘   is a gentle themed tune, which wends its way down in gentle curvaceous themes and riffs. The sax adds to the sound with gentle overtones and its own sure-fingered themes and the percussion adds brushstrokes, which are gentle and sweet. A gentle ending to this CD.

This CD is full of little surprises quirks and sprinkles of musical genius. There is an ever present depth and quality to the sound produced by the gathering of these exceptional musicians. Fun, fulsome and thoroughly enjoyable.  Jo states the motto of the band is ‘do what you enjoy’ and it is clear the musicians are doing just that.  The potential held is considerable.

“JO” recorded on May 4th and 5th 2016 by Christian Heck at Loft Cologne. Release: May 19th 2017 on Unit Records.

You can order this CD here:

15€ + postage


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Text: Sammy Stein

Images: Jo Beyer Press Kit

Last modified: July 15, 2018