The ACT label continues its pioneering championing of new piano talent with the latest set from young German musician Michael Wollny who has been championed by this reviewer on previous ACT releases. This time round the album is devoted to a combination of original pieces and jazz trio interpretations of contemporary classical composers such as Hindemith, Rihm and Varese and on the whole this works extremely well and enables Wollny to focus firmly on the performance side. Now into his fifth album for ACT, Wollny is ably assisted by his regular trio members bassist Tim Lefbvre and drummer Eric Schaefer who present a cohesive whole. The title track of the album is taken from a piece by Gustav Mahler, the full title of which is ‘Wir suchen den weltentraum’ (We are searching for the dream worlds) and few, if any jazz musicians, have taken it upon themselves to incorporate the music of Mahler into their repertoire which makes Wollny’s explorations all the more fascinating and praiseworthy.
If the choice of composers is surprising for someone of Wollny’s relatively young years, then he is still able to search into the current pop scene and pull out an ideal vehicle in a similar fashion to Brad Mehldau who has regularly drawn up contemporary musical sources for his inspiration. Here the reworking of the Flaming Lips’ ‘Be free, a way’ is used as a vehicle for some delightful improvisational work by the trio. Film soundtrack music is another source of inspiration and the David Lynch film ‘In Heaven’ is transformed and transposed into a thoroughly convincing jazz setting. A late April/early May UK tour beckons with more dates likely to be confirmed. Once again ACT have spotted a gem of a musician and the live performances promise to be a treat for those who appreciate their piano trios with a difference.