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Although everyone agrees that jazz is no longer a predominantly American music, and that Europe is now the second continent of jazz, there’s still a tendency to think that funk and groove remain the prerogative of African-American groups.

The existence of bands such as Swedish trombonist’s Nils Landgren are exceptions in this register, where dancing is as much in demand as listening.

Whatever the question, “The Answer” is clearly an answer, and the new album by German altoist Jakob Manz, after an excellent first opus signed by his Groove Connection, follows in the footsteps of musicians such as Maceo Parker and David Sanborn, without slavishly imitating his American elders.

It could even be said that Manz, born in 2001, displays a maturity and a very physical approach to music that are his own. He’s not content, for example, to pile on up-tempo tracks dominated by a tonic pulse, but also offers ballads in which his sound and phrasing display a welcome lyricism over finely chiseled arrangements.

The result is not heavy, primitive funk, but music that is both joyful and the result of a genuine reflection on sound and dynamics, to which guest musicians such as guitarist Lionel Loueke, trumpeter Matthias Schriefel and violinist Alexandra Stollsteimer contribute on some tracks. Backed by top-notch sidemen, most of whom contribute to the writing of the repertoire, Jakob Manz and his Project are at the forefront of a jazz that is both youthful and firmly rooted in a tradition that they extend in an inventive and jubilant way.

Line up:

Jakob Manz: alto sax

Hannes Stollsteimer: piano, keyboards

Frieder Klein: electric bass

Paul Albrecht: drums

Karl Degenhardt: percussion

“The Answer” is in Selection in Couleurs Jazz Radio. It was released by Act Label on January 26, 2024

©Photo Header Thomas Kiehl

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