FLORIAN ARBENZ'S CONVERGENCEwith Nelson Veras, Jim Hart, Rafael Jerjen and Maikel & Jorge Vistel
out June 12th
Convergence is a new international sextet of contemporary jazz stars, handpicked by drummer Florian Arbenz.
Inspired in part by the great drummer/bandleaders, from Art Blakey to Jack DeJohnette, the group features musicians from Cuba, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia and the UK.
Florian comments: “the music is informed by my classical roots, my longtime studies in Cuba, a fascination for modern music and, above all, my love for jazz.”
“technical brilliance and controlled passion” All About Jazz
Best known for his work with Swiss trio VEIN, Florian Arbenz has toured, recorded and performed with artists including Kirk Lightsey, Greg Osby, Glenn Ferris, Bennie Maupin, Dave Liebman, Rick Margitza, Andy Sheppard and others.
At the heart of this project is his collaboration with the Cuban Vistel brothers: trumpeter Jorge and tenor saxophonist Maikel, who between them have played with Benny Golson, Roy Hargrove and David Virelles.
They are joined by Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras (Pablo Held, Jonathan Kreisberg, Michel Petrucciani); English vibraphonist Jim Hart (Marius Neset, Cloudmakers Trio); and Australian bassist Rafael Jerjen (David Tixier Trio feat. Mike Moreno).
With musical reference points spanning John Coltrane, Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman and even Django Reinhardt, Florian says:
“Despite the difficult themes and complicated forms that needed to be mastered for this Convergence project, the music has a very playful and almost party-like aspect. You can really hear and feel the fun we had together in the studio.”
Background Notes from Florian Arbenz…
Ever since I started to listen to jazz and play drums, I’ve been fascinated not only by great drumming, but also by drummers who lead their own bands.
Max Roach, Art Blakey and Jack de Johnette were my heroes and I was thrilled by the way they commanded the band from their drum chair whilst, at the same time, leaving space for the personalities of the musicians in their group.
As a teenager, I discovered more great drummers who led their own groups; Joey Barron or Peter Erskine, for example, who were not only great musicians but also had killing bands in the ‘90s.
I’ve been thinking for some years now about putting together a band which includes my own musical history: my classical roots, my longtime studies in Cuba, a fascination for modern music and, above all, my love for Jazz.
I recently heard Pat Metheny say:
“When you start a group, you have an obligation to choose the best musicians you can possibly find. And then, if you are lucky, once you have great people in place, you have an even more important obligation; to create an environment for them to do their very best.
The mandate of the bandleader is to offer the most talented players every opportunity to develop the things that they are most interested to the highest degree possible under your auspices; to create a platform that intersects with what your goals are as a leader, but also a zone that provides a world open to exploration and expansion for everyone.”
Pat Metheny got this from Gary Burton, who learnt it from Stan Getz who got it from —… who got it from —…ad infinitum
I think this quote reflects the main task of a bandleader perfectly!
I first met the Vistel brothers around 2002 in Havana. When I finally caught up with them again, many years later in 2017, I noticed that they fit very well into my own musical history. They are Cubans – deeply connected to their Cuban roots – but they also know Jazz history from the very beginning and have a quality in sound and intonation which suits the highest standards of classical music.
With the Brazilian guitar player Nelson Veras, the English vibes-player Jim Hart and the Australian bassist Rafael Jerjen, I found more musicians who represent and complete the musical concept of Convergence in the highest level possible (the name of the group is obvious….)
I’m very proud that we managed to create such a positive atmosphere during our tours and the recording-session. It made it easy to be creative and inspired.
You can hear this in the joyful conversation of Jim and Nelson in “Little Idea“, in Jorge’s and Maikel’s burning duet in “Strong Steps” and in the passionate interplay between myself and Rafael in “Edificio 17”.
But what I really admire about these wonderful musicians is that they’re able to create an exciting group-sound, dedicating themselves to the specific music of the project, without losing their spontaneity and strong musical characters.
Despite the difficult themes and complicated forms that needed to be mastered for this Convergence project, the music has a very playful and almost party-like aspect. You can really hear and feel the fun we had together in the studio.
And if you’re familiar with some music history, you can suddenly find the poetic vibe of a John Coltrane, a glimpse of Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman-esque rhythms or even a small bit of Django Reinhardt.
This, for me, is the exciting spirit of Convergence!
We play 21st century music based on knowledge, virtuosity, groove and fun – but we also are strongly committed to respecting our roots.