Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Christof Lauer & Jens Thomas: A Review

Christof Lauer - "One of the most important saxophonists on the European jazz scene and a "musician's musician"!
Jens Thomas - "The Jimi Hendrix of the piano"!

That's what's written in the flyer that was handed to me on entering the music hall of the Asian European Institute at University Malaya. Earlier that day, I had managed to scan through an article in The Star about the duo prior to dashing off for work.

Remind me to never believe anything said in print! If I read something and tell go, "Hmmm ... this sounds interesting. Wanna go?" Just give me a hard smack at the back of my head.

A more wasted evening I have never know, this one's almost as bad as the 4 Men and a Woman dance drama I saw, I think, two years ago. All this creative improvisation things just doesn't suit my palate. It's either I'm terribly dense (a huge possiblity) or the music was that bad!

The duo did their rendition of Sting tunes. Starting off with Roxanne, followed by a piece written by Mr. Thomas, Synchronicity #2, another Thomas creation, Every Breath You Take, Dar (Thomas original), Desert Rose, Synchronicity #1 and the encore 'Be With You" or was that "Be With Me". All in all totally unlistenable except for maybe Dar and the encore piece where there is a hints of melody them.

I only recognised Roxanne because while waiting for the start of the performance, I read the handout given at the door which stated that they did a CD covering Sting songs. Therefore, I was looking/listening hard to try and recognise the song. The part of the song that goes "Roxanne", for those that are familiar with the song, was the only recognisable part. The other part was a bunch of Thomas banging wooden on the interior of the baby grand and plucking at the piano strings. Oh yes. I feel asleep in the middle of the first song.

Every Breath You Take fared better in that the tune was quite recognisable, although not completely, and there was less sections where Thomas started playing with the innards again. Desert Rose was absolutely not in evidence except for maybe twenty seconds almost towards the end of the song. As for Jen Thomas originals, most of the were a bunch of banging on the piano, banging on the inside of the piano and fast finger works and excellent breathing technique by Mr. Lauer. All of which culminates to a bunch of noise.

Saving grace of the evening would be that the duo are actually excellent musicians. You can hear the incredible piano playing of Thomas which reminded me in parts to the song 'Study for Three Hands' by Ennio Morricone for the movie 'Legend of 1900'. Lauer plays a mean sax and the tremoloes? that he does sounds simply out of this world. The duo should really start writing that includes more rhythmic melodies instead of experimenting with banging which lays their talent to waste.

Anyway, it seems that there are people who actually likes this sort of music. After their last piece, as I was aching to get out the hall as soon as I can, some guy behind me cried out for an encore and the duo obliged. Shoot! Stuck for another song! Later getting out of the hall, I actually saw people buying their CDs. I was about to yell, 'You freaking pretensious freaks! A baby could make those noise. Want me to gather some kids together?!". That and I was trying had to suppress my disbelief of the people around me.

Getting into the car, switching on the radio, the familiar soothing melodious tune of 'Truly Madly Deeply' was a much needed reprieve. God bless the radio. God bless commercialism!

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