The novella poet of jazz
"If you don‘t capture people within the first ten seconds of a song you will never get them.” This is a sobe- ring assessment from the music scene, all to often resulting in hard-boiled music for the masses. Jürgen Hagenlocher shows that it doesn‘t have to be this way. The saxophonist, born and bred in Friedrichshafen and now living in Freiburg, immediately grabs the listener‘s ears with his new CD “Episodes” – with the first ten seconds of the opening piece “Continuous Loop”. Guitar and drums magic up a murderous groove, like the energy that used to be mustered by John Coltrane with his colleagues Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. Jürgen Hagenlocher and his partners Dano Haider (guitar), Jörg Eckel (drums) and Thomas Bauser (Hammond B3) stand for a jazz that knows how to combine pressing rhythmic power with very smoothly played saxopho- ne and some vivacious organ solos. Above all, however, the quality of the band‘s own compositions (plus two standards) on this CD is excellent: six pieces written by Jürgen Hagenlocher with another one by Dano Haider. Not one is merely filler material, and anyone trusting to their ears alone would believe that a famous first-class line-up is at work here, performing at their best: the piece “Callisto” is fluent lyricism, with long improvisati- ons that are as inspired as they are dreamy. “The Shuffle is Back” builds on a hypnotic groove, a number total- ly in the spirit of the departed Wes Montgomery.
Hagenlocher and Co. perfectly master the art of rhythmic-melodic transitions, and are thus never a band where one can clearly say that one knows where one is – and it is precisely this that makes them a quality act. In this region [southern Germany], one seldom finds a jazz formation that goes so deeply into the pieces, that explores the ins and outs – and knows when to rein themselves in because they maintain a sense of the structure of the whole composition. Whereby those pieces in which improvisation plays a major role also never fall apart. They are alluring and steamy, mystic and melancholy, dangerous and emotional, flowing but never lacking in variety. One cannot get to the bottom of this CD on a first listening. One has to play it several times to appreciate its depths.
You don‘t trust such hymns of praise? Maybe you would be more likely to believe Randy Brecker: in the booklet, the famous trumpeter talks of a “first-class CD”, “full to the brim with new ideas”. He also admires the compositions and the playing by all involved. Jürgen Hagenlocher, on the other hand, prefers modesty – as indicated by the title of his CD: “Episodes”. An episode is, according to the dictionary, just a “part of a sequence” or, even worse, “an incident in a narrative”. This music is indeed an incident: not a minor one, but almost an extraordinary one. Jürgen Hagenlocher should therefore stick with Goethe and give his next CD the following title: “Novellas”. The lordly poet describes the novella as follows: “For what is a novella if not the occurrence of an unprecedented incident?"