“Givers & Takers” by New York saxophonist Timo Vollbrecht with an explosive genre ensemble, Fly Magic
FLY MAGIC is the longtime signature ensemble of saxophonist-composer, bandleader and scholar Timo Vollbrecht. A unit that explodes the genre with a bold sense of creativity and intention. After two acclaimed records and performances in over 30 countries, their third album, Givers & Takers, marks a new chapter: it conjures up acoustic delicacy with electronic soundscapes of otherworldly orchestral breadth. Recorded in the studio during a 12-date tour, it captures the unique chemistry the four musicians developed on the road while using the stage as their laboratory.
Originally from Germany and based in New York, Timo Vollbrecht is a recognized creative force in the Brooklyn music scene who fuses jazz with post-rock, electronics and instrumental writing.
Described as a “luminous bandleader” by the NYC Jazz Record, he performed on iconic stages like the Village Vanguard. He is also the new director of jazz studies at Brown University. With Keisuke Matsuno (guitar), Elias Stemeseder (piano and synthesizers) and Dayeon Seok (drums), he formed a band without a bassist. Instead, Stemeseder – who just conducted his residency at John Zorn’s iconic Stone Room – plays synth-bass while his other hand uses other keys.
Thematically, Givers & Takers refers to Timo’s underlying sense of community through music: “Music is first and foremost a social practice”, he states, “It’s about human connection and the lived experience of people feeling together and inspiring each other. social aspects traditionally considered ‘extra-musical’ are in fact not extra-musical at all – they form an essential part of the deepest fabric of music.” The album emerges from this place of human interactivity. features four musically synergistic friends from diverse backgrounds entering into an improvisational dialogue marked by mutual trust. Giving and receiving is a natural part of this process. The fact that Givers & Takers is also the name of their favorite bar in Brooklyn stresses the importance Timo and his bandmates place on daily gathering, “It’s emblematic of what it means to us to be part of a scene.”
It follows that Timo’s pieces for this album celebrate the small and large gestures of everyday life. The overture Pau is named after its firstborn and features the band’s tender, improvisational interaction. In contrast, Happy Happy exudes great energy and “my intention is to write a happy melody”, says Timo, “juxtaposed with destructive elements to create an epic ending”. Brighton Blues refers to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. This modern blues highlights the artists’ approach to new ideas linked to their tradition-based identity. Art is Live is a sequel that borrows its name from a series of concerts put together by friends to keep the arts community alive during pandemic shutdowns. Three movements express the experience of an uncertain future at this time: I. Solidarity, II. Loneliness, and III. Agency, the latter being a nod to the roaring Black Lives Matter movement and music as a force for change.
With Givers & Takers, Timo Vollbrecht presents his vision of a truly original band, which avoids easy categorizations and mixes acoustic and electronic sounds wrapped in complex song forms.
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