PETER MEYER guitar, electronics
BERNHARD MEYER bass
WANJA SLAVIN alto saxophone,
clarinet, flute, synthesizer
JIM BLACK drums
„Based on post avantgarde NY-Berlin Jazz this music will go and grow everywhere else.“
Peter & Bernhard Meyer, best known for their work with “Melt Trio”, present their new band with Wanja Slavin (saxophone) and Jim Black (drums).
The Meyer brothers have been contributing to the Berlin-specific jazz sound with their distinct music and sophisticated stylistics on semi-acoustic bass and electric guitar for years: beside the already beaten paths of the genre, they fuse elements of improvised and new music, independent-rock and ambient sounds and show how jazz can sound in the present and the future. Thus they created a sound that is far away from any crossover and that is pathbreaking in the european music landscape.
It was only a matter of time, until these award-winning individualists, who had worked together before, would unite to form a quartet. In November 2016 the band went to the legendary Funkhaus-Studio in the east of Berlin. The takes were that successful that thoughts about cutting and editing never came up. Merely a few overdubs were added, like guitar layers and electronic effects from Peter and flute and synthesizer from Wanja, to give the sound more depth here and there.
With only one exception, Bernhard and Peter Meyer wrote all pieces on Other Animal specifically for this quartet. “We wanted to give the musicians something where they could fully unfold their magic. Jim masters an enormous variety of grooves, so of course we also worked with that.” Consequentially the tempos of the pieces are very diverse and reach from almost Nordic seeming calmness all the way to crescendos with metropolitan verve.
Black’s intuitive, free and yet very pointed playing with dynamic and forceful entrances also exhibits a pronounced sense for sound, which again harmonizes perfectly with the Meyer brothers’ sound awareness, their arcs of suspense and their energy made up of both transparent-airy and powerful dense passages. Wanja Slavin brings a sometimes fragile, sometimes rough beauty into the band. Inspired by the revolutionary expressiveness of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, Slavin can captivate with sensitive as well as forcefully gripping sounds; some facets of his playing are reminiscent of new music and electronic music. Just like guitarist Meyer, Slavin evidently also thinks in structures and textures. Both focus on atmospheric, sharply detailed soundscapes instead of the traditional “faster, higher, further”-competition. Thus they interlock like zippers’ teeth – not only in parallel passages. Or they seem like a tree, whose shoots sprout into different directions.
A constant quality of Other Animal, is the compositional modernity of both Meyers, which is guided by their own listening habits. The two early thirtysomethings are not only influenced by the sound of certain jazz greats like Bill Frisell, Keith Jarrett (especially the quartets with Haden, Motian, Redman or Garbarek), Marc Ribot and Terje Rypdal, but also by rock experimenters like Radiohead, James Blake and the Notwist. Exemplarily they mention their piece Nongeniality; a melody that could come from Charlie Parker, but is turned and twisted through the indie-rock filter. To the Meyer brothers the form of the songs is at least as important, as melodic themes and solos. By that, they mean the sequence of parts, arcs of suspense and instrumentation. In these aspects McCoy Tyner and Brad Mehldau are just as much inspirational sources as Weather Report and Grizzly Bear.
A band is an organism, which breathes and pulsates. It needs to communicate and be kept alive to amaze with different motions, timbres and developments again and again. In this sense, Other Animal is a very special, charismatic species.
The four musician released their first album with Traumton Records in January 2018.
„There is probably no comparable guitarist in germany, who is as versatile and creative as Peter Meyer“, writes the music magazine „Sound And Image“. Jazzthetik calls him „master of sounds“. Guitarist and composer Peter Meyer has lived in Berlin since 2004, where he studied music with Prof. Kurt Rosenwinkel at the Jazz Instiut. By melting all influences of jazz-improvisation, experimental sounds, prog- and indirock, eletronic and Neue Musik together, he creates a unique and unheard style, that makes him a remarkable voice of a new generation of jazz musicians. He was nominated for the Echo Jazz Award twice. Beside his own projects Peter Meyer is member of the bands of Johanna Borchert, Dan Freeman, Lea W. Frey and Carlos Bica.
Bassplayer Bernhard Meyer has lived in Berlin since 2003 and become a major part of its young, exciting jazz scene over the last years. His unique playing and his remarkable sound on the semiacoustic E-Bass makes him an outstanding voice within the Jazzworld. He completed a master program for composition with Prof John Hollenbeck at the Jazz Institut Berlin. He played/ is playing in projects like John Hollenbeck`s “DrumsBassBassBassDrums”, Kurt Rosenwinkel`s “E.Coli”, Eric Schäfer`s “The Shredzs”, Claudio Puntin`s “Sepiasonic” and is a long time band member of singer Lea W Frey. “Murmuration” is his new project as solo band leader.
The saxophonist, born 1982 in Freiburg and based in Berlin since 2005, received a Jazz-Echo award in 2014 for the album Starlight, which he recorded with Petter Eldh and Christian Lillinger. Most recently Slavin attracted attention in the quartet Amok Amor (Eldh, Lillinger, Peter Evans), for instance at the Moers Festival 2016, London Jazz Festival and Jazzdor Straßburg. Moreover, he has played with Kenny Wheeler, Médéric Collignon, John Schröder, Joachim Kühn, Alexander von Schlippenbach and others.
Born in 1967 in Seattle, Black studied at Berklee College, then moved to New York and ever since, has been enhancing many projects with his distinctive playing. On the one hand in his own formations, such as the post-rock jazz quartet AlasNoAxis with Chris Speed, the Balkan-oriented Band Pachora, as well as Human Feel, with Speed, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Andrew D’Angelo. Furthermore, Black recorded a handful of albums alongside Dave Douglas and Uri Caine, also for the BBC with Tim Berne and Nels Cline, with Dave Liebman, Steve Coleman, Laurie Anderson and many more.
This Band is an organism, which breathes and pulsates. Playing consciously and intuitively, leaving out the irrelevant Other Animal amazes with different motions, timbres and developments again and again.
Downbeat Magazine 02/2018
…with sinuous melodies that are eminently accessible, but which are given just the right amount of unpredictability through the band’s rhythmic diversity and strong emotional arcs.
All about Jazz
Other Animal brings new life to jazz.
Other Animal´s eponymous debut album, on the Traumton label, traverses turf both familiar and fresh. A core progressive jazz-rock element, carried over from Melt Trio, is further colored by abstract-free-improv sections within the Meyers´custom-tailored compositions. One hallmark of the Other Animal album is the unpredictability and license to creatively wander within the scored material. Structured components often peel away and new ambient free zones appear, sometimes returning to the head, sometimes not. The 12 tracks on Other Animal cover a diverse range of stylistic and emotional terrain, from the quirky groove-driven tracks to itrospective ECM-ish numbers.
Josef Woodard, Downbeat Magazine
…Sometimes thinly polished, sometimes strenuous and unyielding, Other Animal creates interesting and variegated soundscapes dipped in the independent rock genre.