Things remain exciting. Whenever a smart aleck again verbosely proclaims the downfall of jazz, complains that current protagonists cannot think of anything else than quote the past and their heroes and the music as such is no longer relevant, then some young guy comes along at the same time and brazenly thumbs his nose at the spirit of the times. You can marvel at such not the least in the Jazz thing Next Generation series, which also proves in its 67th release that precisely jazz is an entertaining, individual, modern and relevant art form in every respect in the waning first decades of the 21st century.
This time, the personalized enlivenment comes under the name of Christoph Beck, who comes from the Swabian region of Germany, studied in Stuttgart (with distinction summa cum laude), Vienna and Würzburg, and has played in the Baden-Württemberg Youth Jazz Orchestra and the German Youth Jazz Orchestra (BuJazzO). He is a highly talented tenor saxophonist who was awarded the »Young Lions Jazz Award Stuttgart« and received a scholarship from the Baden-Württemberg Foundation. He has played in the Tobias Becker Big Band, the Hot Damn Horns, the Slavko Benic Orkestr, the Südsax saxophone quartet, Antizyklon, the SWR4 and SWR1 bands and in his own ensembles such as »Das letzte Känguru« and numerous big bands (Eberhard Budziat Bigband Project, Stuttgart Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Factory Orchestra, among others). In addition, the young musician has collaborated in various theater and musical productions (West Side Story, Chicago, Rocky, Line1, Faust, Twelfth Night and Happy End) and teaches at the Leonberg Youth Music School. This is proof that well-trained jazz musicians do not have to spend the night under a bridge to get the necessary experience and expertise.
Christoph Beck's first album under his own name, »Reflections«, together with Andreas Feith (piano), Sebastian Schuster (bass) and Thomas Wörle (drums) has the radiance of a beacon in an increasingly vast German jazz scene. It contains his own compositions without exception and with unconventional titles such as »Grellgruen«, »Nutzlos«, »Unveraenderlich« and »Unbekannte Schatten« that sketch the exploring personality of Beck, who deliberately chose a conventional cast for the recording. Both in ballads as well as up-tempo pieces, the native of Stuttgart goes his own way, which is certain to single him out as a distinctive voice with a unique style. Music like a signature: playful melancholy meets skeptical optimism. Simply too big for commercial pigeonholing.
Beck's former teacher Rainer Tempel (composition / arrangement) commented that it is always a nice feeling when former students prove with a CD that they stay focused, rehearse, play and record. »Painters paint, actors play and musicians simply make music, regardless of whether anyone else likes it in the beginning. However, someone else definitely likes it in the case of Christoph Beck.« Others will certainly agree with Temple's opinion soon. »Christoph Beck can play. He and the other musicians of this quartet stand for the 2010 generation of the Stuttgart scene and contribute to keeping it alive here, as something moving and changing. This in turn inspires others.«
Perhaps this is genuine art, which a young jazz musician such as this one has to dominate these days: to compose intelligently and control the melody at the same time, compose intricate harmonies and stay ›catchy‹ at all times. Christoph Beck and his quartet manage to achieve this closing of the circle masterly.