"... Interesting, sometimes surprising arrangement ideas and great compositions make the album a breathless listening experience."jazzfun, 28-8-2023
Mainz 04 is composed of four saxophonists who have been playing together for almost twenty years. “We met in 2004 while studying in Mainz,” baritone saxophonist Steph Winzen remembered, explaining the band's name by the way. Kerstin Habrecht plays the alto saxophone, Johannes Lind soprano and Alexander Jung tenor. Thus, Mainz 04 have almost the same classical line-up as the World Saxophone Quartet, but there are also role models in Germany: “The Kölner Saxophon Mafia,” Winzen admitted, “already inspired us.”
Johannes Lind composes most of the songs for the ensemble, but Alexander Jung ("December 2nd", "Winterday"), Steph Winzen ("Clouds") and Kerstin Haberecht ("Lullaby for M") also composed pieces. “We mainly wanted to play our own compositions and arrangements of artists that we really admire,” Winzen explained the musical concept of Faces. We believe that we have been quite successful in transposing “Forcing ‘Minuano‘ by Pat Metheny into an arrangement for saxophone quartet, for example.” Ding Dong Ding is a song composed by Bob Brookmeyer for the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. Hunting Wabbits by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band rounds out the album: The song comes from the animated series “Looney Tunes” and accompanies the hunt of Elmer Fudd for Bugs Bunny; with the pronunciation of his activity, the title already indicates the difficulties Fudd has.
The title track was inspired by the late piano pieces of Johannes Brahms. Béla Bartók inspired “La Référence” and heavy metal “Reeds of Steel and Glory”. “One person has an idea, and most of the time the others are impressed by it,” Winzen described the process of creating a repertoire. “From my perspective, I sometimes have quite a bit to chew on. But since I completed studies in classical music and have also dealt with new music, which also is always very bulky at first, I have found that I also grow on it when I really get into the flow of the material. The pieces of my co-musicians also challenge me greatly. I have to work hard, but I think that's great, because we want to develop further."
Mainz 04 has a musician with Steph Winzen who provides the basis for the ensemble sound. The idea for “Clouds” came to the saxophonist while jogging in the rain, when she was fascinated by the changing colors in the sky. In Mainz, Winzen has long since gained official recognition as "Mainz City Musician", although the saxophonist began her career as a child on the flugelhorn. “A baritone player is always missing in a typical music school quartet,” Winzen explained the way to her huge instrument while shrugging her shoulders. It has the reputation of a bulky and unwieldy sound generator under woodwinds. “But I also liked the sound and was able to master it physically as well as in terms of lung volume.” Winzen subsequently played with various orchestras and released a solo CD with contemporary music. In 2019, she was chosen by the State Music Council of Rhineland-Palatinate as patron of the saxophone as the Instrument of the Year in Rhineland-Palatinate. Her co-musician on alto saxophone has been leading the quartet Habrecht4 for ten years. Soprano saxophonist Lind is equally at home in jazz and classical styles, and Jung on tenor saxophone is not only a radiant soloist, but also embodies the collective spirit of the ensemble. Contemporary influences from classical to metal exemplify what is possible with a saxophone quartet. At the same time, the sound of Mainz 04 is so sensual that Faces becomes an acoustic experience even for those jazz fans who understand little about the subtleties of the arrangements for four saxophones. Mainz 04 have now ventured into a studio after almost twenty years, and the result proves that sometimes that which lasts a long time can actually age to perfection.
... Interesting, sometimes surprising arrangement ideas and great compositions make the album a breathless listening experience.
.. Exciting and multi-layered...
... a German saxophone quartet that finally released the debut album "Faces"...
... or contemporary jazz pieces like "Clouds" penned by Winzen, which is as rich in moods as the sky with its interesting cloud formations...