Reviews and Concert Reports

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CD Review

Marc Brenken Trio: It Could Happen to You

There has certainly been no lack of jazz piano trios over the past years. But in spite of all the competition the first notes of this album already attract the listener's attention. The trio is acting delicate, the musicians are paying attention to each other, the exquisite sound engineering carefully places the instruments in the room without affecting the band sound. "Durch den Regen fahren" (Riding Through the Rain) is the title of Brenken's first original, one of eight on this album displaying his wide range of expression as a composer. Only the title song is a standard, excitingly arranged with frequent changes of meter. In "J & M" Brenken demonstrates his blues feeling, driven forward and accentuated with many variations by drummer Marcus Rieck. The ballad "End of a Day" shows the impressionistic side of the trio and is a good example of how bassist Alex Morsey sets his sonorous counterpoints in an unerring and highly musical way. "Erbse im Holzhaufen" (Pea in a Wood Pile) is swinging with pleasure in a medium tempo with Morsey's walking bass and a short vocal solo à la Slam Stewart before the album closes with "Rainy Day", another ballad. This music rewards repeated listening with the discovery of many new facets. Highly recommended!

Hans-Bernd Kittlaus, Jazz Podium, July 19th, 2009

First Jazz Award Ruhr for the Marc Brenken / Christian Kappe Quartet

Finally it was up to the audience at Dortmund's famous jazz club domicilto decide about the winner of this competition. And as it wasn't a casting show but the competition for the First Jazz Award Ruhr, the main characteristic of the contributions was artistic quality, which is plentiful among the jazz scene of Essen, Dortmund etc.

It is the main issue for Jazzwerk Ruhrthat this artistic quality is reported to the world. Nadin Deventer, who founded the organization that is supported by the governent of North Rhine-Westphalia, is constantly working on the publicity of jazz culture and has gained quite a lot of public attention and media interest with this competition.

More than fifty applicants hadn't made it easy for the jury of regional jazz experts to choose three finalists previously. Just after midnight the audience were asked to give their votes for their favorite band and confirmed the impression of the three concerts, where all of the bands gave their best one more time.

Cheer about the first prize ruled among the quartet of pianist Marc Brenken and trumpet player Christian Kappe. These four musicians remarkably boosted the benchmark, for in their work many grown and proven qualities are most vitally combined. The compositions are mainly written by Brenken and pay hommage to an eloquent jazz language that the Oscar Peterson fan has acquired over many years. Much personal intimacy and a strong melodic sense are present here all the time. Moreover Brenken, Kappe, bass player Alex Morsey and drummer Marcus Rieck know how to make sound, create colors and, at the same time, stay relaxed in such an infectious way.

The second prize went to the piano trio Invisible Change. The three young musicians dedicate themselves to classic modern jazz, they listen attentively to each other's ideas and work them out at high speed. The trio's music could be described as timeless and contemporary at once. The sparkling up-tempo playing of pianist Oliver Maas is highly impressive by itself, so that he actually wouldn't need that much visual dramatics.

The third prize was won by the Zodiak Trio from Essen. Here three young instrumental berserks score with their confrontation of jazz and rock elements. Their concert was full of exciting moments and luscious sound fusions, for example when fiery bebop phrases of John-Dennis Renken met the harsh string acrobatics of guitarist Andreas Wahl while drummer Bernd Oezsevim combined sophisticated micro rhythms with brute rock grooves. By any means, please expand!

Stefan Pieper, JazzZeitung / Neue Musikzeitung, December 11th, 2011

Enthralling Short Stories at the Piano

The compact piano trio format enjoys unbroken popularity among jazz groups. This can also be stated for the domestic scene. Since at least the 41 year old pianist Marc Brenken has released his first album "Eight Short Stories" in 2006, the creative keyboard wizard is no longer an insider tip. On the last date before the summer break the inventive composer and pianist could be experienced live at Eckart Pressler's concert series "Säulen-Jazz", joined by bassist Alex Morsey and drummer Marcus Rieck.

Brenken, whose music is influenced by Richie Beirach, opened the first set with an original composition, developing delicate neo-romantic soundscapes into fast episodes of high rhythmic intensity. In between there were free passages with bowed double bass and hand drumming inside the piano. The suitable title: "Durch den Regen fahren" (Riding Through the Rain).

The pianist and his companions went on with a nonchalant swing entitled "Erbse im Holzhaufen" (Pea in a Wood Pile), a lively allusion to Vernon Duke's "Autumn in New York". Here Morsey added some easy going scat vocals to his bass solo. With "Lauf der Zeit" (The Course of Time) Brenken invited the audience to dream time away, making use of his sensitive touch, but still staying down-to-earth thanks to the sophisticated rhythmic fundament of his partners.

"Raus ausm Bett" (Get Outta Bed) is the title of another Brenken original. Here the talented composer underlined the song title with uptempo piano artistry and an intoxicating drive. Very bluesy and with a ragged rhythm, that's how "J & M", the final piece came up. All the compositions of this great trio followed an intelligent pattern rooted deeply in the tradition of jazz that keeps this music free from sounding arbitrary. A whole lot of applause for the trio of Marc Brenken.

Thomas Becker, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, June 17th, 2016

 Marc Brenken / Christian Kappe Quartet:  More Short Stories

CD of the Week on WDR 3 "Resonanzen"

Marc Brenken is a pianist, he lives in Essen and has studied there at Folkwang University of the Arts. With trumpet player Christian Kappe he founded a quartet that has become known beyond West Germany und has won the First JazzAward Ruhr.

The charming point about this quartet is the figurative quality of the songs. Due to simple yet concise motives the listener is constantly challenged to hang in there. And you'll gladly comply with that challenge because little stories arise in your mind. It's no accident that the new album is entitled "More Short Stories".

a music tip by Jörg Heyd, WDR 3 Radio, program "Resonanzen", March 16th, 2015




Marc Brenken | Jazzpianist & Komponist