The U.S.-based Austrian pianist, composer, bandleader, and Steinway Artist Markus Gottschlich leads his trio with guests across a concept album. Found Sounds aims at helping people examine and re-examine their relationship to their environment. In developing the album, his third as a leader, Gottschlich recorded and collected sounds (thus the title) over four years from places such as Vienna, London, New York, Taipei, and Miami while using a binaural microphone and a hand-held recording device. These sounds are inspirations for the songs, and the sounds range from those of Hurricane Irma making landfall in Miami to a horse and carriage in Vienna, to Big Ben in London, only “Taipei” easily gleaned from his song titles.
Gottschlich talks about the album being four years in the making and here’s the story behind it. Extreme circumstances pathed the way for Gottschlich’s third album as a leader. While the original Trio recording was stolen mid-year, 2018 together with its computer, it was surprisingly recovered two years later. Finishing the album during the intense pandemic lockdown months that Gottschlich spent on the hard-hit east coast of the US, is a testimony to his relentless creative desire.
Appearing on some selections alongside drummer David Halasz and bassist Martin Kocian are the percussionist Yogev Shetrit, renowned trumpeter Bobby Shew, the altoist Bruce Williams (Roy Hargrove’s Big Band/World Saxophone Quartet), who makes a stunning statement on “Time Will Tell,” apparently beginning with those sounds from Hurricane Irma. Korcian and Halasz get their fair share of licks in on the aptly up-tempo “Trainology.” As you listen to Gottschiich’s flowing, exciting piano style it evokes that reference that some make about guitarists having the ability to make their instrument sing. Gottschlich is one of the few pianists where such a statement applies, as he plays the percussive instrument with the fluidity of a wind or string instrument. Yet, his approach in other places can be more percussive and powerful, depending on the nature of the piece. He says, “In this album you will hear my way of interpreting the environment, which might entice the listener to use his/her imagination as one goes through their day. Furthermore, it’s my desire to make this improvised artform we call “jazz” as accessible as possible, by relating it to sounds everyone knows.”
The frenetic opener trio piece “Irmageddon” has a tempo and piano-drum interplay worthy of the name of the hurricane that comprises the first four letters of the title. “Fiaker Lied” is another trio rendering, quieter but playfully adventurous too. “Shofar” comes down a few notches too, as the trio plays in restrained fashion behind the pianist’s elegant rather minimal lines before the sounds enter in, perhaps also from Taipei. “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” has some tricky syncopation interspersed with gorgeous chords and a lyrical statement from Kocian before the leader takes a spirited excursion. “Taipei” exemplifies Gottschlich’s “singing style.” “On the Brink” begins with a array of urban sounds but then morphs into a melodic piece that one might envision as the soundtrack for a pleasant walk on a spring or fall day, that in places becomes a light jog. The closer “A Last Dance” has that requisite elegance and grace, befitting the title with Shew contributing a fine trumpet spot
Perhaps this writer has a different interpretation of the tunes than Gottschlich intended but that’s okay. You probably will too. After all he is enticing the listener to use his/her imagination as one goes through their day. Close your eyes and just let your mind drift to wherever it may want to go.
- Jim Hynes
More About the Artist
Austrian pianist, composer and Steinway Artist Markus Gottschlich moved to the United States at an early age and has been based in the U.S. ever since. Like his own life story, Markus’ music reflects a unique blend of “old world” and “new world”. In his captivating live performances, his lyricism and technique contribute to his highly individualized sound. The global flavor with which his music is infused reveals an artistic journey that stretches far beyond his Austrian roots.