Pocket Rhapsody II
1 CD | Digipack | ACT music | 0614427991720 | ACT 99172 | 30 October 2020
When Frank Woeste’s “Pocket Rhapsody” was released in 2016, it earned him a welldeserved place in the limelight. Here was a pianist with a “style at once powerful, elegant, rousing and outlandish” (ARTE Metropolis). The album also re-connected him with the German jazz audience, for although Woeste has made his home since 1999 in Paris, and is well known on the French scene for his own projects and his work alongside stars like Youn Sun Nah and Ibrahim Maalouf, he was actually born in Hanover.
Woeste is living proof of the power of combining cultures. In him we find a technical grounding from German classical music co-existing with a passion for American jazz and the spirit of his adoptive country: “I am strongly influenced by the way jazz has always been viewed in France, as music that blends well with other forms – world music, French music... There is freedom here to take the jazz language, to adapt it, to find one’s own way,” he reflects.
“Pocket Rhapsody”. The album title encapsulates a rhapsodic, free and personal approach to music, which Woeste has taken considerably further in “Pocket Rhapsody II”. There is a whole cornucopia of timbres, a big emotional range, compositions encompassing different aesthetics including pop and rock, but always with a clear sense of where we are. We hear more of the beguiling sounds that Woeste can conjure from the Fender Rhodes and various synthesizers, and there’s a joyous surprise: a choir of children. The other players in the line-up also signal a new direction. Whereas the first album was an ‘American affair’ with guitarist Ben Monder and drummer Justin Brown, the follow-up features Woeste’s French band, which also toured the project. The Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans makes a wonderfully lyrical contribution.
Whereas both “Mirage” and the title track from the first album re-appear on “Pocket Rhapsody II”, Woeste has transformed them so totally, they are scarcely recognizable – which was his intention. Woeste has also played “Wintersong” and “Clair Obscur” before in his duet series “Libretto Dialogues”. The three-part “Tryptique”, written for the album, has a magical way of growing and evolving. The whole album has completeness and coherence despite its stylistic openness. In “Pocket Rhapsody II”, Frank Woeste has found again what the Irish Times saw in the first album: “the fresh and invigorating sound of a pianist daring to be different.”