The Dublin Jazz scene never ceases to surprise me with its creativity, diversity and endurance. What it lacks in financial support compared to other European countries it more than compensates for with its high level of musicianship and increased cognisance of the history and traditions of the music. And so comes the EP from the quartet ÄTSCH into my inbox. I don’t know these guys, but I like what they do. Seemingly led by guitarist Matthias Winkler, the band delivers five thoughtful, well-conceived compositions that delicately but firmly push into a very personal modernity, all while maintaining a firm connection to the lineage.
What is immediately striking about this group is the exception control they demonstrate over the energetic arc of each piece. Through the composed material and continuing into the improvisation they never let the forward momentum wane, and one is left with a sense they know precisely where they are going at all times. Indeed, the group feels very well-rehearsed. It feels like that most elusive of all Jazz animals; a band. This is no small accomplishment when funds and opportunities to present your music are in short supply. Further, these guys don’t sound like one of those bands that just sort of occurred through four musicians being in the same place at the same time. While that may or may not be the case, the overriding sense is that there are quite deliberate choices being made here about how the style and timbral concept of each player informs the group sound and group dynamics.
The liner notes as came with my copy don’t give any information about the players, which is a shame, but a reference to Dublin’s Jazz training ground The Newpark Music Centre has me under the assumption that these guys are still early in their careers. If that is accurate then they are hitting the ground running, with a strong band that is going to appeal to a wide spectrum of Jazz listeners. There is a smattering of popular music influencing the under the surface, and the tunes are grooving and melodic. Additionally, there is also something Eurocentric about this recording, but it is subtle. Perhaps this is accentuated by Graeme Bourke’s piano that sometimes takes to gently floating across the time, yet never descends into directionless ambience. You can really hear this on the second tune entitled Dance. Contrastingly, Winkler more than not keeps the time at the forefront. This is an interesting variation of approach between the two primary soloists, and adds to the sense that the music is always moving somewhere.
A rhythm section of bass and drums (Eoin O’Hallaran and Hugh Denman respectively) that are so uncompromisingly working in service of the tune is a pleasure on the ears, and this is, in the end, the thing that really brings this recording home. It is the fact that even while the solos are very strong individually, one is left with a sense that the complete sound of the group as a whole is very decidedly the priority for all these musicians. I think there will be much more music coming from these guys, and this EP bodes very well for the future indeed.
You get the EP from the links below: