Review in German, English translation below.

Der typische Jazzmusiker ist er nicht. Als Teenager kam Christian Artmann erstmals in die USA und brillierte dort als klassischer Flötist – erst später entdeckte er den Jazz für sich. Inzwischen lebt er in New York und veröffentlichte 2011 sein Debütalbum als Jazzer. Sein klassisch geschultes Flötenspiel ist natürlich technisch frappierend, der stimmungsvolle Einsatz der dunklen Altflöte bezaubernd. Artmanns visionäre Stücke überspannen ein stilistisch weites Feld zwischen Claude Debussy, Edeljazz und sanftem Funk. Sein wichtigster Partner auf Our Story ist der Pianist Laszlo Gardony, ein Alleskönner, der schon 1983 den Schritt von Europa nach Amerika machte. Johannes Weidenmüller (Bass), seit 1991 in den USA, und Jeff Hirshfield (Drums), ein echter New Yorker, komplettieren das Quartett. Als Gast in drei Stücken ist die Mezzosopranistin Elena McEntire mit dabei. Ob es nun an der europäischen Herkunft liegt, an der Verwurzelung in der Klassik, an buddhistischer Philosophie oder dem Instrument Flöte: Artmanns Musik hat auf jeden Fall etwas sehr Eigenes, Beherrschtes, Virtuos-Kontrolliertes – eine besondere, gewollte Ästhetik. Zuweilen erinnert die Kombination Flöte/Klavier bzw. Flöte/Stimme sogar an alte Aufnahmen von Chick Corea. ****

English translation:

Your typical jazz musician he is not. Christian Artmann came to the U.S. as a teenager and at first excelled as a classical flutist before discovering his passion for jazz. Now at home in New York, he released his debut album as a jazz musician in 2011. Artmann’s classically trained technique is dazzling, and the dark tone of his alto flute casts a spell. His visionary pieces transcend stylistic borders, connecting Claude Debussy, refined jazz and laid back funk. His most important partner on Our Story is can-do-it-all pianist Laszlo Gardony. who made his move from Europe to the U.S. already in 1983. Johannes Weidenmüller (bass), in the U.S. since 1991, and Jeff Hirshfield (drums), a real New Yorker, complete the quartet, with mezzo soprano Elena McEntire appearing as a guest artist on three pieces. Whether as a result of his European origin, roots in classical music, Buddhist philosophy or instrument of choice, Artmann has a highly unique musical voice – a controlled form of virtuosity paired with a very personal aesthetic. The way he combines the flute with the piano and the voice is at times reminiscent of some of Chick Corea’s classic recordings. ****

 

On his third offering as a leader, Christian Artmann’s Our Story (Sunnyside) showcases the flutist’s crystalline tone, fluid technique and engaging compositional style. Indeed, Artmann’s 10-song set is easy on the ears without sacrificing layered depth. The sprightly opener “The Noctambulist,” the funky “Earthling” and the beautifully sentimental closer “Always Here,” feature Artmann’s alto flute doubled an octave higher by Elena McEntire’s wordless vocals. As for technique and velocity, Artmann’s improvising presents a barrage of creative ideas that nearly overwhelms. To his credit, he knows when to release and give his empathetic rhythm section (pianist Laszlo Gardony, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Jeff Hirshfield) ample room to present their inspired interpretations.

Christian Artmann was raised in Germany before moving to the United States as a teenager. While his parents encouraged him to take up the piano he focused on the flute and has not looked back since. He released his 2011 debut titled Uneasy Dreams followed by the excellent Fields of Pannonia, reviewed on this site. He’s back with his third album Our Story.

This is another top notch band with superb playing by all members. Often the spotlight is on Artmann’s flute for good reason. He’s an exceptional player, dynamic, fluid and highly imaginative. The piano work of Gardony also deserves special mention as he provides fabulous solos throughout the disc. Check out the flute and piano solos on the first track “The Noctambulist” to hear what I mean. On “Earthling” the flute and vocal lines in unison sound great, as does the inspired flute solo. On the title track an extended flute solo takes up the entire first half and it’s a real treat for the ears. Then the piano returns the favour. Really stunning stuff. One of my favourites is the haunting “Tropic of Capricorn”. Sweeping waves drift through the soundscape before the flute takes hold with another excellent solo. Before long the band get into a light and airy groove before ending with more beguiling flute work. Score:

Christian Artmann plays both flute and alto flute on this sublime album with Laszlo Gardony/p, Johannes Weidenmueller/b, Jeff Hirshfield/dr and vocalist Elena McEntire. Ms. McEntire is featured on three pieces, bopping along with Artmann on the funky “Earthling,” pastoral with Weidenmueller’s bass during “Always Here” and placid along with Gardony’s piano for a contemplative “Amazing Grace.” Artmann makes the woodwinds get fluffy like cirrus clouds on “Tropic of Capricorn” while flexing some muscle for the modal “Quixote” which has the rhythm team bear down with a vengeance. A pretty side is reflected on the cheerfully bopping title track and the gracefully galloping “Resilience.” A breezy morning!

June 20, 7 p.m. with Yago Vazquez at Spectrum, Brooklyn

Join Christian and the wonderful Spanish pianist Yago Vazquez (piano) for an exciting duo at the hip new location of Spectrum in Brooklyn. The duo will feature music from Christian’s new album Our Story (Sunnyside, 2018).

Spectrum is located at: 70 Flushing Ave, Garage A (entrance betw. Cumberland and Carlton), Brooklyn, NY 11205. Click here for more information.

September 29, 2pm Matinee at ShapeShifter Lab: The Christian Artmann Quartet

with Laszlo Gardony (piano), Johannes Weidenmueller (bass) and Jeff Hirshfield (drums). Shapeshifter Lab is located at 18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn in the Park Slope/Gowanus area. Tel: (646) 820-9452 (call after 4p.m.). Best subways are the R to Union St or the 2/3 to Atlantic Ave/Barclays Center or Bergen St. Click here for more information.

October 6 with Laszlo Gardony at The Buttonwood Tree, Connecticut

The Buttonwood Tree is located at 605 Main St, Middletown, CT. Click here for more information.

October 18, 8pm at The Kitano, NY: The Christian Artmann Quartet

with Laszlo Gardony (piano), Johannes Weidenmueller (bass) and Jeff Hirshfield (drums). The Kitano is located at 66 Park Avenue, East 38th St, New York, NY 10016. Reservations recommended – Tel: 212-885-7000. Click here for more information.

Pannonia, a frontier of the Roman Empire that now lies at the geographical center of modern Hungary, evokes a historied landscape that flutist Christian Artmann’s Fields of Pannonia paints through jazz. You may not find yourself in accustomed jazz territory during this almost 60-minute mythical journey in sound, but there are references to familiar composers along the way, including Wayne Shorter, J.S. Bach, and Messiaen.

The opening title track is full of unexpected turns and modulations. It provides the album’s most memorable, almost folkloric melody, the kind you might hum to yourself walking down a long stretch of road as the day’s heat gave way to evening. Wayne Shorter’s “Fum-Fo-Fi” is the closest to a straight-up blowing session, with inventive bop-styled solos throughout.

The reworking of J.S. Bach’s “Sarabande” from the Partita in A Minor nests the famed melody quite dissonantly. It may charm some listeners with its lyricism and familiarity, but this reviewer found it somewhat out of place given the ambience of the album as a whole. “Garuda’s Song” sounds like an ornithological cousin to Messiaen’s Le Merle Noir, but here the bird flies funky, with Artmann’s improvisation thematically punctuated with flutter tonguing.

Two tracks, “Sunya” and “Atacama,” both free improvisations, show the depth of listening that this group possesses and are among the most successful pieces on the album. “Vortex” is unconventional and surprising in its construction and showcases Artmann’s full technical command of the flute, especially in the piece’s punchy chromatic climax. Finally, “August” features one of Artmann’s best solos on the album. The rhythm section of Gregg Kallor, piano, Johannes Weidenmueller, bass, and Jeff Hirshfield, drums, shines brightest on this feel-good track.

Hirshfield’s drums add color and texture to this album, whimsically painting rhythms while simultaneously supporting the band’s cool textures and strong sense of swing. Kallor’s playing is always surprising—he never settles for typical pianistic devices, and Weidenmueller’s creativity and confidence demonstrate why he is such an in-demand bassist in today’s international jazz scene.

If you are a fan of the lush sounds of the alto flute, buy this album—the instrument is featured throughout alongside the C flute. Artmann’s tone conveys unusual warmth and mystery, and his improvisations are as fertile as the fields of Pannonia themselves.

Flautist Christian Artmann’s work seems to be rooted in the notion that art can and will stretch as far as the imagination will take it. And in his case, that’s quite a distance. With Fields Of Pannonia, Artmann presents an album-length fantasia, bringing jazz language, baroque influences, impressionistic ideals, swing, straight-eighth grooves, open-ended thoughts, and solidly-structured songs into contact with one another.

Part of the charm of this music is in the way that Artmann and his band mates manage to paint with a specific intent that’s then tempered with another. Noticeable directional beacons find their way into the most feisty and far-out offerings, headstrong ideals are delivered with a delicate touch, and dreamy gestures are ballasted by the bottom-end players. Artmann, as the architect of this project, can be seen as the figure who’s largely responsible for juxtaposing these elements against one another, but the credit really deserves to be spread around: Gregg Kallor is a chameleon, placing calming harmonic cushions, piano droplets, outré rejoinders, and in-the-tradition comping beneath or against his comrades; bassist Johannes Weidenmueller gives the music firmness and presence, locking things into place and delivering downy tones that add warmth and weight; and drummer Jeff Hirshfield is a model of taste, working with a light touch and strong rhythmic conception. Together, these men make for a colorful ensemble that’s capable of stretching Artmann’s music in fascinating ways.

The album opens with the amiable title track, a piece with a pleasant disposition that serves as an easy entry point into the leader’s universe. From there, Artmann and company shift toward swing with a nod to Wayne Shorter (“Fum-Fo-Fi”) and look back to J.S. Bach with a number that uses his Partita in A Minor (BWV 1013) as a leaping-off point (“Sarabande”). Improvised material (“Sunya” and “Atacama”), funky fare (“Garuda’s Song”), sunny suggestions (“August”), and outside offerings (“Vortex”) all follow, furthering the diversity in Artmann’s artfully crafted musical portfolio. By the time the album comes to an end with a warm and inviting cradle song (“Lullaby For Julian”), Artmann has established himself as a composer with great vision, a performer with a strong creative streak, and a collaborator who works with open ears.

I’m honored to have been selected as Featured Artist by world-renowned flute maker Miyazawa Flutes. Check out my interview and artist profile at:

http://www.miyazawa.com/community-news/feed/novembers-featured-artist-2015/

 

The notes emanating from jazz flutist Christian Artmann’s flute resembles the distinct musical language heard in some of the classical music repertoire’s greatest works. It’s no wonder since Artmann was raised on a heavy dose of J.S. Bach and other giants of classical music. On Fields of Pannonia (Sunnyside Records, 4023) he is joined by drummer Jeff Hirshfield, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and pianist Gregg Kallor and together they communicate an impressive program consisting of 10 original compositions composed by Christian Artmann and Gregg Kallor.

Opening with the title track, “Fields of Pannonia,” the ensemble revisits the sounds of Christian’s musical roots in Germany and Austria. His playing exudes the kind of passion that demands your undivided attention. Its generous spirit of sound envelops you and bathes you in vivid, dynamic trills and splashes of color and textures that only a masterful flautist can deliver. Exceptional solos from Christian Artmann’s bandmates add calming caresses that are not merely involving but virtually embrace the listener’s senses.

“Fum Fo Fi” also exudes the immaculate execution of Artmann’s countless twists and leaps, lulls and bursts that project his distinctive traits that his listeners can feel and relate to. He pushes his ensemble to answer with the same details as if each part was written especially for them. The challenges continue on “Sarabande” a beautiful piece that acts as a kind of quiet interlude before the even more intimate sound of “Sunya.” You can certainly feel the intimacy and relate to this very personal music.

It is apparent that Fields of Pannonia is music to be experienced and absorbed entirely. “Garuda’s Song,” is intriguing with piano, bass and drums weaving together – toying with one another, locking in the pocket before Christian Artmann enters with some very profound and speedy trills. He really makes his instrument sing in all registers.

“August,” which was written by Gregg Kallor is a pure jazz piece that provides just the right amount of cinematic sonics to convey the summer month. Artmann’s ensemble presents this song with special emphasis on the colors and textures that are both exciting and blissful to the listener.

Overall, Fields of Pannonia is as brilliant as it is different. It contains music that is exciting for the heart, mind and soul.