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Die Enttäuschung - Die Enttäuschung

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Artist: Die Enttäuschung

Album: Die Enttäuschung

Label: Intakt

Review date: Sep. 6, 2007

Die Enttäuschung first made their name as the purveyors of reimagined tunes from the catalog of Thelonious Monk. Their debut, self-titled LP, released in 1995, was their first bit of Monk-mania, and it was followed by a CD on Grob, and, in 2004, Monk's Casino, a collaboration with Alexander Von Schlippenbach on which the group winds energetically through the whole of Monk's oeuvre in just three discs' time. In recent years, however, DieEnttäuschung have parted ways with their sunglasses-clad muse; on a LP on the Crouton label, and this new disc (both self-titled, of course), the quartet have begun to offer up their own compositions. The tradition of honing one's skills playing the work of another has a long history in jazz, and while the gentlemen who make up DieEnttäuschung had no need to prove their mettle back in 1995, it's not a stretch to think that the attention gained while covering Monk has likely helped in cultivating a following now hungry for the quartet's own material.

Axel Dörner is Die Enttäuschung's best known member, though those coming to Die Enttäuschung via the Berliner's mutations of his trumpet's tone will likely be surprised. While the disc is imbued with enough playful idiosyncrasies to make a traditionalist cringe, it contains quantities of melody, rhythm and swing not often heard in conjunction with Dörner's name. The influence of playing Monk tunes for so long may have had a lasting effect on the band, and while there's very little material that's noticeably reminiscent of Monk, there's a tone to some of the music that seems a holdover from the band's earlier days. A lean sparsity is exhibited through much of the album, and even when all four men are playing at once, there's little sense of overcrowding. Dörner and bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall engage in plenty of counterpoint, and their interplay, even when working in unison, is often almost conversant, full of statements, replies and repetitions. One tends to play around the other, coming together to state a track's theme, and subtly pulling apart for a bit of extracurricular melodic modification on the side. Die Enttäuschung's rhythm section, consisting of Jan Roder on bass and Uli Jennessen on drums, tends to take a back seat to Mahall and Dörner, both in terms of the mixing of the session(s) and the actual music they play. Roder's bass is a near constant voice in the music, but his smartly accented lines stay well behind the trumpet and bass clarinet, with little chance for solos or his own chance at playing something off of his instrument's beaten path. Jennessen has a bit more room to flex his musical muscle, though his percussion is easily missed at its rather muffled level; the snappy report of his drums and cymbals only truly shines when his playing forces an increase in volume.

Mahall represents the album's compositional majority, though by only a slim margin. Jennessen and Dörner add four and five selections, respectively, with Roder contributing a single track. There aren't drastic differences in each man's writing style for the quartet, though Dörner's pieces tend to allow the most room for extended solos and experimentation, and some of Jennessen's work is the most anchored in a cool melodicism. Still, Die Enttäuschung prove a group well in concert stylistically, with a tight cohesion that's not so constricting as to be suffocating. They might have made their start covering Monk, but the quartet's move to their own material contains very little of the disappointment that serves as their moniker.

By Adam Strohm

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