BRF 1 Radio November 17, 2023

Jazztime: Branko Arnsek Sextet – a groove world compressor

Double bassist Branko Arnsek has internalized the music of his life's locations, from his homeland, the Balkans, to the Western world to the dance halls of Latin America. The way he mixes them is refreshingly different.

For the second time in a row, a German sextet is drawing attention with a production that mixes up well-known styles with less common shifts. This time we are going on a world tour from Stuttgart, the tour guide is the bassist Branko Arnsek (actually: Arnšek), who was born in Slovenia, but who lived in Swabia as a child. He studied double bass and electric bass in the Swiss capital Bern, but the busy, committed globetrotter was always drawn to Cuba, where he lived for a long time. Since 1990, Arnsek has been teaching at the Stuttgart Music School, leading the Cuban salsa orchestra Tokame, running his own label 59music (based on his birth year in 1959) and, with his agency Cuban Events, being able to create a showcase for Cuban cultural life everywhere.

With his Branko Arnsek Sextet he plays in the field of modern jazz and yet broadly incorporates the styles that shape his origins and his place of longing. On his album "Move closer!" This doesn't happen in the way you might expect - technically skilled people play Latin jazz, for example. No, Branko Arnsek plays: modern jazz, which happily shows its roots in swing and bebop. With his ensemble – Frank Eberle, piano; Janos Löber, trumpet; Anton Mangold, alto saxophone; Michael Mischl, drums; Reinier Ceruto Zaldivar, percussion - he grooves through his compositions, which sometimes have bebop, sometimes Cuban jazz as their basic form, and always breaks them up in surprising ways, almost as if following bebop theory.

Completely seamless, but with sharp edges, he sometimes halves the tempo, doubles it or destroys the beat in order to paint an extra-stylistic pastiche into his swing machine for a few chord strokes. This happens with amazing naturalness and precision. The dominant basic forms are Cuban son, salsa and mambo, but also jazz-funk and later the soul-jazz school ("delay"). On four of the nine pieces, the Cuban Johana Jo Jones appears as a vocalist with agile sharpness. "Move closer!" condenses so many musical worlds into a good 50 minutes that the title opens up a perspective both internally and externally.

Here is the broadcast:

Mark Will