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CD Feature/ Jake Playmo: "My Favourite Toys"

img  Tobias

Well, well, well, what can I say? A CD featuring the names of well-known companies in the business of producing toys. Even the artist’s name, Playmo, with the addition of ‘bil’, is one of those brand names, that stand for kids and sometimes also adult playing material. The music? Impressive, and yet there are many question marks.

It is billed as jazz, but I can not agree with that characterization completely. In many of the pieces you think more of a hard rock band, like Led Zeppelin, when a merciless drum beat and juicy bass lines power ahead with a forceful drive. And all of a sudden, there are jazzy and very well played saxophone soli, that feel somehow as if they live in a soap bubble. Once the bubble bursts, we are back at hard rock. In some pieces, the jazz and the hard rock world go back and forth. The piece “Lego” is an example for this. With ecstatic saxophone playing and awesome guitar play, jazz and rock replace each other at full speed. Like a kid, that can’t get it’s Lego pieces straight. Yet, at the end, the music melts together in one powerful flow, very fresh, very fluent, very much like Lego: Pieces are mixed and connected, disconnected and thrown about, and at last a beautiful building has been created. Just great!

This scheme is continued throughout most of the album. Pieces of music are constructed like building parts. What is extremely interesting is that in most of the compositions almost always, just in the middle of the pieces, themes are changed abruptly, only to find back to each other at the end, the knots being tied again.
The pieces “Barbie” and “+Ken” do not follow this script. They stand alone somehow. While “Barbie” is a smooth song, with the sexy, dark voice of Kathrin Mander being an absolute highlight, “+Ken” captures my interest less. Although featuring great saxophone play, I find the whole production of this song being a little shallow.
‘YPS Gimmick’ however is a masterpiece. The change between rock and jazz has reached a peak, where both genres profit from each other in a breathtaking way. The instruments are played to the extreme, without ever leaving the big context of the composition, and here, Jake Playmo and the accompanying band, ‘Das böse Ding’, uncork a firework of music, that really leaves a mark. Absolutely stunning!

Over all, this CD is worthwhile listening to. Jake Playmo, whose real name is Jan Klare, is someone well know in the musical scene. His talents are obvious: A great musician, a gifted composer. Proof of that can not only be found on this CD, but also on other works, like ‘jA to zZ’. Also, he created, composed and produced music for theatre and even bigbands, like the well-known ‘WDR BigBand’.

And while I still broke my head why he, being a gifted and technically talented jazz musician, would combine hard rock and jazz so vigorously, I found the answer by coincidence on ‘You tube’. There, in a filmed interview, he provides the answer: By mixing hard rock and rock elements with jazz, he wants to draw a younger, broader audience to his music. He knows that rock is something they understand, and in mixing it with his jazz, they may be led to enjoying the latter genre, too.

Maybe Jake Playmo is right and maybe he has a point here. It remains to be seen. Maybe, it has to do with a growing process in music and its understanding. I don’t want to be the judge at this point. All I can say is, that the CD ‘my favorite toys’ has a lot of interesting and enjoyable music to offer. Listen for yourself.

By Fred M. Wheeler 

Homepage: Jake Playmo/Jan Klare
Homepage: Ozella Music

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