Even his quartet’s debut was programmatically named „Constantly Moving“ and documented the first years of the band after it was founded in 2003. On the follow-up album “Zeichen der Zeit” (Signs of Time 2009) the Frederik Köster Quartet adopted a position of its own using an outspoken mixture of honest rock guitar and elastic jazz trumpet, delightful improvisation and songwriter storyteller qualities. “This is the band as it sounds today and it includes all our influences, the signs of the present times and the past times”, the bandleader explains. And the signs of the times are looking good for Frederik Köster. In 2009 he received – as a soloist as well as his quartet – the New German Jazz Award, and in 2010 the ECHO JAZZ and the WDR Jazz Awards. The third album of the band now follows, developed as a constant “work in progress”: “Momentaufnahme” (Snapshot).
“It’s clear that we sound different every day” comments Frederik Köster. “That’s jazz…” The album’s title refers in reality to the late summer/fall of 2009 when the four-part suite was created that now forms the central focus of the album. The first of the four segments – “3×211”- conveys the third mode of Olivier Messiaens’ theory of composition in a beguiling trumpet melody that reminds one of Miles Davis/Gil Evans “Sketches of Spain, only to instantly turn into a compact pas de deux with Tobias Hoffmann on the electric guitar.Frederik Köster dedicates the gentle flugelhorn ballad “Liebeslied” Love Song to his wife Kasia. Here the musicians’ individual contributions circle and merge with one another, literally melting into a mutual song.
But it would be too easy to regard Frederik Köster as an esoteric snob from the l’art pour l’art ivory tower. “The entire network has always fascinated me: art, music and contemporary history,” he says before “2.Juni”. “I was born in the ‘German Autumn’ of 1977. I recently read Stefan Aust’s “The Bader-Meinhof Complex”, wherein the unrest on June 2, 1967 is described as the initial impetus of the students’ revolt. I wanted to capture the energy of this period and the passion of those people who took to the streets back then.”
Is it a coincidence that the guitar solo’s robust power on top of the ostinato rock patterns finally unwinds in the both powerful and lyrical trumpet line of “Prayer” (and its open soundscapes)? The meditative basic attitude of this piece marks Köster’s preoccupation with Buddhism.
The four parts of the suite for a quartet are framed by two pieces for an enlarged ensemble: Niels Klein joins in as a second wind player on saxophone and bass clarinet. Even though “Arabesque (Prologue” and “Schaltjahr” Leap Year were created temporally independently from one another, there appears to be strong connections: “The previous album ‘Zeichen der Zeit’ was often described with terms like jazz rock or fusion”, Frederik Köster says laughing. “But that’s not enough. I want to show more facets; the kind that were inherent to music back then. This time I wanted even more interaction, more of a collective, in a nutshell: to connect freedom and composition.”
“Momentaufnahme” (Snapshot) is hereby a portrait of a group of friends who have already worked intensely together. In the meantime each of them in their own right belongs to the most renowned younger generation of musicians. For example, the guitarist, Tobias Hoffmann: he autodidactically learned to explore the diversity of guitar sounds, whether it be complex sound collages of clean jazz or scratchy alternative rock. Or the drummer, Ralf Gessler, who also played in Hoffmann’s band “Fallschirm” Parachute, providing the emotional foundation. Or Robert Landfermann (WDR Jazz Award winner 2009) who staged some of the most thrilling encounters in the free improvisation scene with his series “Not Without Robert” and who is internationally known, not only as bass player in the Pablo Held Trio. Last but not least, Frederik Köster, Tobias Hoffmann, Robert Landfermann and also Niels Klein were the founding members of the KLAENG collective from Cologne.
“Momentaufnahme” simultaneously presents a picture of the musician Frederik Köster – shot with depth of focus. On one hand, as a trumpet player who is continually expanding his broad sound spectrum ranging from the pithy, gleaming of precious metal to warm, elastic singing and who has long been a master of his craft, and on the other hand, as a musician who appears on stage with likes of Randy Brecker as well as with the rapper Curse. The experienced composer’s personal style can be clearly heard as well. He has written large musical scores for his Frederik Köster Jazz Orchestra, thereby acting as an improvising musician, a spontaneous inventor of sustainable melodies, not as a solitaire, but rather in close communication with his colleagues.
And finally, “Momentaufnahme” sheds light on the current state of music: mixing jazz concepts from Coltrane to Dave Douglas with multilayered processes similar to Steve Reich’s minimal music, Messiaen modes, the rhythmic energy of heavy metal from rock to Radiohead and narrative songwriting qualities from the Beatles to Nirvana. At the beginning of the 21st century, young musicians are drawing on their abundant listening experience. It is a wonderful moment for jazz. (Tobias Richtsteig)
“Frederik Köster’s new CD ‘Zeichen der Zeit’ is completely modern in conception and realization with world-class playing and composing by Frederik and everyone else in this engaging band!” (Randy Brecker)
“Using electronics while still sounding organic – the Cologne-based Trompeter Köster masters this challenge with ease. For five years he has had a quartet with guitarist Tobias Hoffmann, bass player Robert Landfermann and drummer Ralf Gessler. This band certainly enhances the German jazz scene.” (Der Spiegel)
“Zeichen der Zeit is truly innovative and refreshing – staged with a massive sound, it occasionally is soothingly defensive.” (Jazzzeitung)