Berlin trombonist Konrad Bauer
has become a regular of the Victo label. News From Berlin
, a studio session with compatriot pianist Aki Takase
, is his fourth album for the Victoriaville (Québec) imprint. The chemistry between the two players is exemplary. Each brought to the session two or three original compositions, mostly playful (and slightly warped) bebop tunes and free jazz heads. In addition, they recorded six short free improvisations titled "Movement I" through "Movement VI." Most of all, they had fun, undoubtedly: The feeling permeates through the music and brings a smile to the listener's face on numerous occasions. It's all in the details: the way the pianist stings the trombonist in "Removal," the fake tango motif in "Movement III," the switch to mono recording for Takase
's solo in "Blues for C" -- an antiquated touch for a piece that is anything but authentic blues. For the closer, "Sad About," the piano has been luxuriously prepared; objects rattle and bounce below Bauer
's mournful melody. Unless one glances regularly at the track list, it can be difficult to tell originals and improvs apart, which adds to the listening pleasure. Some may find News From Berlin
just a bit too safe, but it cannot be called predictable. It's a charming class act -- sadly, the same cannot be said about the horrible cover artwork.