“It was my wish to cool things down a bit,” says David Helbock. The Austrian-born pianist has formed a new trio with guitarist Arne Jansen and trumpeter Sebastian Studnitzky and it is clear when he talks about it how far he has already moved on since his previous group: “In the Random Control Trio we had a lot of instruments on the stage, there was a lot of changing from one instrument to another... and a lot of notes.” And the new group? “It is more about emotions. And emotions are the most important thing in music.”
There are other differences too. Whereas Helbock’s previous groups have consisted of musicians from his native Austria, he has now lived in Berlin for five years, and ‘The New Cool’ presents his first group formed with players who have also adopted Berlin as their home city. With Arne Jansen, originally from Kiel, what appeals to Helbock is that “he is such an unselfish player, very centred and very calm - and subtle too. With him it’s all about the music.” Studnitzky is originally from the Black Forest and Helbock liked “his style of playing with that very airy sound” and the fact the range of timbres and moods he creates with just one effects device. And how does it work in the trio? “All three of us are melody players, but we are all capable of holding back and giving space to the others.”
It would be wrong, however, to see the elegiac feel of much of this album as a response to the pandemic. Helbock and producer Siggi Loch were having “a productive and fruitful discussion” about these ideas a full year before the recording sessions took place at the Emil Berliner studios in August 2020. Loch has a fascination for the way cool jazz “turned the wheel around” to connect with a wide audience and references and connections with the cool jazz movement are scattered throughout this album. It is also the very first time that Helbock has included a tune by his teacher for over a decade, American pianist Peter Madsen, who toured extensively with Stan Getz and also taught Maria Schneider.
Helbock has been inspired by the innovations and concepts of Lennie Tristano and his sense of affinity with the Chicago-born genius runs deep. Tristano once decreed that “the jazz musician’s function is to feel.” Helbock, Jansen and Studnitzky have taken that maxim to their hearts.
LP pressed on 180g vinyl with digital download included.
I Remember Clifford (Benny Golson)
Pandemic of Ignorance (David Helbock)
Prelude in E-Minor, Op. 28 / No. 4 (Frédéric Chopin)
Truth (David Helbock)
Hymn for Sophie Scholl (David Helbock)
Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman)
Solidarity Rock (David Helbock)
I Feel Free (Jack Bruce)
On the Shore (Arne Jansen)
Korona Solitude #1 (Sebastian Studnitzky)
Angel Eyes (Matt Dennis)
Surrounded by the Night (Peter Madsen)