Klaus Graf Jazz Quartet : An Evening of Musical Exhilaration
Exhilaration sums up the atmosphere when the gig ended. There was a sense of lightness and contentment in the room. That's where the Klaus Graf Quartet left us; it was a happy place for each one of us. Jazz isn't the simplest music form to listen to and appreciate, but I was pleasantly surprised by the combined musical intelligence of the people in attendance. Every complex time signature, tempo variation and instrumental improvisation was applauded real time.
The German quartet was immensely talented, their coordination was where perfection lies and the compositions were like medicine to the soul. They mostly played self-compositions with a few melodies from Cannonball Adderley and even a jazz rendition of The Beatles. Dressed in elegant jackets of black and grey, they were as easy on the eye as on the ears. They had a very friendly aura and Klaus Garf's interaction with the crowd was as entertaining as the music itself. They played two sets and took a short break in between. I took this opportunity to catch up with the pianist, Olaf Polziehn and drummer, Meinhard Obi Jenne.I was curious about their jazz playing experience in India, where Bollywood and tasteless rap is dominating the music industry of late. To my surprise both Olaf and Obi Jenne only had good things to say, “The crowd here is on top of the technicality of our music, much like in Germany” said Obi Jenne. He continued, “However, the big difference here is - people are more emotional, they show emotions easily when compared to their European counterparts. Which as musicians, is great for us!” Olaf mentioned that they had a great time playing in Mumbai too and have a couple of more gigs lined up on their India tour. He said, “We play next in Mysore. Then we head to Coonoor and finally wrap up the tour in Trivandrum”. Impressed by Obi Jenne's playing style and his technical acumen, I carried on a casual conversation with him, trying to learn a bit more about jazz in the process. I mentioned to him, how I started playing guitars myself and how my musical tastes have evolved over the years from Pop to Rock to Metal to Folk Rock and now starting to venture into Jazz with the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. To which he said something that completely blew me away. He said “That's great! In fact when I was twelve years old I was fortunate to spend two whole days with the great Elvin Jones (drummer for the John Coltrane Quartet), that's how I got influenced for Jazz”. My eyes popped, I continued to talk more music technicalities with him and learnt a great deal in those few minutes.
Off they went to play their second set, which was more contemporary and up-tempo. The crowd began to sway and clap their hands. Track after track they mesmerized us with their groovy tunes and instrumental solos. They had impeccable command on their instruments and their subtle techniques were musically satisfying. When Klaus announced that the following song were to be their last, there was a sense of disappointment on the floor. The tune was befitting for a finale, but it wasn't to be. They bowed and went off stage, only to be compelled to come back on and play another track to the crowd's constant cry for “one more”. Another befitting, precise and soothing melody and another bow, but the crowd simply hadn't had enough. The humility of the quartet was such that they happily came back once more and played another great closing tune to satisfy the virtually insatiable audience. With incessant cries for more music, they invited us all to Mysore to attend their next gig. I wouldn't be surprised if some of us actually go down to witness some fine jazz, from some of the finest musicians one would ever see.