Bringing jazz all the way from Cologne

November 20, 2017


German band C.A.R. performs at the PNCA on Sunday. — White Star
German band C.A.R. performs at the PNCA on Sunday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: The German embassy and the Goethe Institute in Pakistan hosted a German Jazz concert at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) featuring C.A.R.

The group consisted of Leonhard Huhn on the saxophone, Christian Lorenzen on synthesizers, Kenn Hartwig playing the double bass and Johannes Klingebiel on drums.

Ambassador Martin Kobler introduced the band, saying: “It is a particular pleasure to welcome the four young musicians from Cologne to Pakistan. They have incorporated electronic effects into jazz and are now embarking on a South Asian tour starting from Islamabad.”

After playing the introductory piece, Leonard Huhn said: “It is a pleasure to be here. We just started with two pieces which we combined and as you will realize, that is what we do – play pieces together in parts or combined”.

“We came together 11 years ago in Cologne and we have been making music together for about eight years. We developed our sounds on the base of jazz - we love jazz, we play jazz. But as we went deeper into sound we found krautrock which was a form of music very popular in the 1970s in Germany,” he said.

Similar to the bands of the early 70s, C.A.R. expanded the sonic possibilities of jazz to include a mechanical and electronic sound with synthesizers and with the addition of an avant-garde pulsating beat. In a manner very unusual for a jazz quartet, C.A.R. had a strong rhythm with spurts of improvisation that at no time overpowered the collective sound. Each instrument contributed to the piece of music with evocative hypnotic sound effects.

Michele Louise Galopin said: “Not quite what I expected – that is more classical jazz – but enthralling psychedelic sort of 70’s music and very pleasurable taking you on underwater or interstellar wanderings”.

The interplay of the group was interesting as each member of the band ensured that his component contributed to the overall sound while remaining open to the discovery that is inherent to jazz.

A member of the audience, Hina Khalid said: “I think it was an excellent effort by the German Embassy to bring their native music to Islamabad. I really like the music and thought the way they played was impressive. These sorts of exchanges help in understanding other cultures and we should send our musicians on similar tours.”

Mohammad Shaukat, who had brought his family including a very excited eight-year-old, said: “We found it very enjoyable. Our son is studying photography and he gets to know about the best performances at PNCA. I liked the music very much and my daughter wants a photograph with the band”.

Another audience member Amina Asghar said: “I’m not sure if this concert was jazz. It was interesting music but it wasn’t anything like any jazz music I’ve heard before”.

C.A.R. was founded in 2011 by Johannes Klingebiel and Kenn Hartwig in Cologne, Germany. Originally a quintet playing experimental jazz music with a pop approach, they eventually shifted to the subtly flowing mélange of electronic and jazz sounds featuring drums, double bass, a wurlitzer stage piano, korg and oberheim synthesizers as well as an alto saxophone.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2017