Wolfgang Haffner – Kind Of Spain – 2017

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On Kind of Spain German drummer Wolfgang Haffnerr and an acoustic sextet have combined the music of the Iberian peninsula and jazz. The first track “For Vince & Arif” is a tribute to both of the great arrangers – the drummer worked several times with both of them.

“During the session,” remembers Haffner, “Siggi played us one of the tracks from Jazzpaña. It had those typical flamenco hand-claps. We spontaneously decided to sample the claps, and jammed over them.” Following on from the successful 1950’s cool jazz and bop excursions in Kind of Cool, Kind of Spain is again with an 100% acoustic band. Traditional Spanish music meets jazz. A cultural heritage which is more than 500 years old encounters the blue notes of the New World; flamenco and folklore meet new compositions by the bandleader. The vibe created by this sextet is introvert, warm and atmospheric, and the listener’s mind might easily drift off… to a roof terrace somewhere in Granada by night, perhaps.

“My original wish was to record as a quintet,” says the ECHO Jazz prize-winner for drums from 2010. “A band with bass, guitar, piano and trumpet was already in existence. But then I decided that I absolutely wanted Christopher Dell to be part of the group as well, because he has had such an important role in my live band for years.” Vibraphonist Dell, who like pianist Jan Lundgren was on “Kind of Cool”, gives a particular tonal colour to this endeavour.

Lars Danielsson has been a fixed presence in Haffner’s groups right from the beginning; the bassist (who also plays cello) was on Haffner’s ACT debut album “Shapes” in 2006, has been a member of his acoustic trio, and has been a musical close colleague for several years. Sebastian Studnitzky, who brings in his velvety trumpet sound, is another musician who has a long playing history with the drummer, not least the time when both of them were members of the Nils Landgren Funk Unit. And then there is the youngest member of this team: guitarist Daniel Stelter.

“That melody is so strong that the softer you play it, the stronger it gets,” said Miles Davis of Joaquín Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez,” which he recorded for his 1960 album “Sketches of Spain.” Here Daniel Stelter plays the unforgettable tune – very much in the idiom of the trumpet legend. Stelter, whom Haffner got to know during Al Jarreau’s final concert tour, demonstrates tremendous concentration – and also tenderness. “Space in music is essential to me,” says Haffner. “Just a few notes, played in ballad tempo, that really appeals to me.”

Understatement is the order of the day on “Kind of Spain”, with no one adding a note more than is necessary, and a bandleader whose drumming never has a scintilla of attention-seeking about it. “I like strong melodies and beautiful harmonies,” Haffner emphasizes. “The very last thing I think about is how I am going to accompany the songs on the drums.” Both “Tàpies” and “Salinas”, composed in Haffner’s adoptive home, Ibiza, show evidence of his elegant restraint. The traditional Andalusian 16th century piece “El Vito,” and Lars Danielsson’s exciting “Pasodoble,” which is reminiscent of Spanish folk dance, are both invigorating popular songs. On these tracks Dell and Lundgren both shine with fine solos.

Wolfgang Haffner / drums
Jan Lundgren / piano
Sebastian Studnitzky / trumpet
Daniel Stelter / guitar
Christopher Dell / vibraphone
Lars Danielsson / bass

Recorded by Arne Schumann at Hansa Studios Berlin, January 21 & 22, 2017

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