Norbert Stein/Pata Messengers Play Rainer Maria Rilke
Das Karussell (The Merry-Go-Round)
I had an interesting time putting the various pieces of the title of this CD together. The musicians and the poetry I had no difficulty with but it was the “Das Karussell” part, and trying to tie it all together that was a little more difficult to do. After reading all of the information contained in the liner notes, and brushing up on my rusty, minuscule knowledge of the German language, I finally put things together. Actually, I obtained a greater appreciation for this CD due to that exercise.
This CD is a curious amalgam of spirited, yet well played quartet jazz, and poetry. Still, the “Das Karussell” threw me for a loop initially, and then I started to put things together. First, this CD has 16 tracks. The odd numbered tracks are poems by the renowned German-language poet, Rainer Maria Rilke and the even numbered tracks are performances by the Pata Messengers. Each poem is recited by Ingrid Noemi Stein who is the daughter of the Pata Messengers leader Norbert Stein. The poems are actually quite good and if you can read and/or understand German, you will gain appreciation for Herr Rilke’s offerings. For this particular CD, selections were chosen that deal primarily with life, death and passion. The poems are transcribed into English in the liner notes if you want to follow along. They are also used as the title for each track on the music side of things. The phrase “Das Karussell” means “The Carousel” and is the title for one of Herr Rilke’s poems and is also the title of track 16 on this CD.
Now, before I proceed, I need to let you readers know that the majority of the selections played by Norbert Stein and the Pata Messengers is avant-garde or free style. This is not everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to music but I personally enjoy listening to it. All of these musicians are highly skilled and very accomplished. Along with tenor saxophonist Norbert Stein, we have Nicola Hein on electric guitar, Joscha Oetz on double bass and Etienne Nillesen on prepared snare drum and cymbals. There are some very interesting arrangements for each of these tracks, not from a musical standpoint but from the musical pairings within the group and the melodies and choruses they play. For example, on track 2, “Wie soll ich meine Seele halten” (How should I hold my soul), which is a very nice poem by the way, Stein’s sax and Hein’s guitar play the melody while Nillesen’s drums and Oetz’s double bass play free form. Somewhere in the middle of the track, the guitar also begins to play free form followed by the sax. Soon they all are playing free form at the same. The verve and intensity of the group’s playing intensifies with each instrumentalist seemingly going off in his own tangent. But do not think that things are getting chaotic as the music rises to a loud cacophony because the musicians are seemingly playing off each other using their skill in musical expression. As the track progresses and the mixture of instrumentalists seemingly doing their own things begins to rein back in and they continue to play the identifiable melody. This is the essence of free form and the Pata Messengers do an excellent job of staying true to the music and to each other.
On track 4, “Fragst du mich: Was war in deinen Traeumen” (You ask me: what was in your dreams) we have more of the same but Joscha Oetz and his double bass stood out here. He played his double bass with a bow, but at the same time, his sound was both expressive and communicative. I really felt like I was connecting with him as he was playing. Track 6, “Graue Liebesschlagen” (Gray Love-Snakes), though it has an odd title, was probably the most lyrical and musical track of the entire disc. Those of you who really are not into the avant-garde will really like this track as you can really hear how truly gifted the Pata Messengers are. Track 8, “Freilich ist es seltsam, die Erde nicht mehr zu bewohnen” (It is truly strange to no longer inhabit the earth) is at least as musical though a little slower in pace and more contemplative. Track 10, “Loesch mir die Augen aus: ich kann dich sehen” (Extinguish Thou my eyes: I still can see Thee), as the previous two musical tracks did, started out playing lyrically, but by the middle of the track, was full on free form, but this time, guitarist Nicola Hein was playing some real interesting cords, especially towards the end of this selection. Track 12, “Einmal, am Rande des Hains” (At once, at the edge of a grove) features some really nice sax work by Herr Stein as he played some really nice riffs towards the latter part of this track. I felt that tracks 14, “Ich fuerchte mich so vor der Menschen Wort” (I am so frightened by the words of men), and track 16, “Das Karussell” (The Merry-Go-Round) are both more of the same, however, Herr Hein really did some outstanding guitar-work on Das-Karussell. He had all manner of mind blowing sounds coming from his guitar. I could almost swear it sounded as though he was bowing his guitar. It will be real interesting to discover what he did to manipulate the guitar strings to get that unique sound.
This CD has great sonics and was very well recorded. For you audiophiles reading this, the sound quality of this CD is very high and is the type of sound you can use to show your system off with. Tonally, it’s a little warm but not objectionably so, and it is very clear. Ingrid Noemi Stein’s vocal reading of the poems before each of the musical tracks is very clean and holographic. It sounds pretty much like she’s in the room reading to you. Overall, this is an excellent work with excellent poetry, vocals and some amazing avant-garde jazz. If you like that form of jazz, you will love this CD. It’s worth seeking out.
To learn more about Norbert Stein and Pata Music, please visit the Pata Music website (http://www.patamusic.de/index.html)