When Andy Herrmann plays the keys of his piano, he turns his innermost outwards. With eyes closed, he feels for what moves the soul, dives deeply into the cosmos of human feelings and translates what he finds there into sounds that are woven together into multi-facetted compositions. The Villa Eugenia hosted Andy Herrmann and his project ‘The Child in Me’ on Wednesday evening, following his invitation from the Foundation.
The Freiburg-based pianist is no stranger in Hechingen. As Joachim Wien, Chairman of the Villa Eugenia Foundation, stresses, Herrmann had already played at the Villa five years earlier – at that time still with his trio, which was nominated for the New German Jazz Award in 2010. The trio has meanwhile become a first-class quartet which includes, in addition to Herrmann, Norbert Scholly (guitar), Arne Huber (bass) and Fabian Rösch (drums).
As the title of the music project implies, Andy Herrmann’s rhythmically incisive jazz pieces, infused with animated harmonies, trace the childhood of their creator. “We are only playing my own compositions here, developed from childhood memories,” the pianist stresses.
Sparkling and light sounds, borne on a whirring gripping groove, characterise works such as ‘The First Date’ or ‘Game’, which examine the innocence of childhood play. A distinctive wealth of ideas can be seen in all Herrmann’s compositions, so that they each have an individual complexion due to his great finesse and slight accents at just the right places – and are played by the four musicians with almost dreamlike ease.
Sounds create and stage-manage a sequence of pictures to form scenes that embody the lightness of a child’s being, but that are again and again permeated by melancholic passages. ‘The Child in Me’ expresses a search that has accompanied Andy Herrmann through his life: “The search for the immediacy of childhood; the desire to return to childishness.” The eponymous piece therefore starts with a melody that reminds one of a nursery rhyme before the man and the music are doomed to become adult until, at the end, the childlike carefree sound regains the upper hand. Created using musical intuition, whose inner driving force is childish curiosity that wants to penetrate everything down to ground level, that drives to unknown places, and leaves space for the imagination on every journey. The melodic sequences and harmonies are almost lyrical, appearing fragile but releasing their inner strength when heard.
Tonal cumulus clouds form during pieces that intone the forces of nature, the rain pulsing and pattering on fields in the countryside, and gusts of wind plunge with the intoxicating power of changing tempi. Swirling notes draw the listener into the undertow of water, passing through every key, intoned energetically by the quartet and spiced up with individual phrasing.
The four musicians demonstrate their impressive abilities in every single piece, captivating with their multi-layered and differentiated style of playing and an unmistakeable virtuosity. Rooted in the tradition of jazz, but sprinkled with modern grooves and almost childlike playfulness, they gave the audience at the Villa Eugenia a sound experience par excellence.
Andy Herrmann is an amazingly versatile pianist with a lean whiplash touch, nimble pianistic eloquence, and an ever-precise equitable balance between sense and sensibility, rationality and intuition, reflection and spontaneity: simultaneously resolute, clear and graceful. “He expanded his trio into a quartet with guitarist Norbert Scholly for this album. But the ensemble is not standardised to the lowest common denominator, but dedicates itself with commitment and devotion to their music-making together: the band plays full of detail and finely attuned to one another, fusing to form a single entity from which the soloists emerge naturally.”
» Piano News ®
„Eine sinnliche Reise durch Kindheitserinnerungen, die Bilder und Stimmungen ausdrücken soll – so der Pressetext der aktuellen Veröffentlichung “The Child In Me” von Andreas Herrmann. Der für eine Vielzahl an Jazzauszeichnungen nominierte Piano Veteran schafft es, mit seinem neuen Quartett eben diese Eindrücke anhand von melancholischen Melodien und abwechslungsreicher Harmonik erfolgreich zu vermitteln“.
» Concerto ®
„Die acht Songs auf „The Child In Me“ sind von einer anrührenden Heiterkeit und gleichzeitig von einer versonnenen Melancholie durchzogen, die die Musik bei aller Komplexität sehr eingängig macht“.
» Jazzthing ®
“The scene needed just such an unconstrained combo jazz album.”
“An instrumental album that is grandiose and offers compositions and playing of great ability.”
“Andreas Herrmann achieves his goal of creating an impressionistic album with bravour”.
» All About Jazz