"Home means to me: a place where I can be myself, a place I where feel at ease. It means having found roots and being able to move along. In terms of my CD, it also takes on the meaning of feeling completely comfortable with the music of my fellow musicians. While composing I concentrated on what was closest to my heart, which we were able to portray ideally as a group. It is an absolute pleasure for me to hear how my fantastic colleagues play my music."
Max Frankl hasn't been at it all that long. The 30-year-old guitarist from the Bavarian town of Weilheim has already recorded a few albums, for example with the Francis Drake Trio as part of the 'Next Generation' series or with his first formative band, 'Frankzone'. He studied in Amsterdam and Basel, perfected his skills with teachers such as Wolfgang Muthspiel and Kurt Rosenwinkel and learned to appreciate working with larger ensembles on tour with the European Jazz Orchestra. In this way he quickly matured into his own sound and a reputation in the scene that allows him an album with an all-star cast and a solidly defined position of its own.
A Band of Experts
"Home" brings together a sextet of instrumental experts, each of whom has distinguished himself with prominent projects. Nils Wogram, for example, is one of the most active and versatile trombonists in all of Europe. Dominic Landolf's reputation as saxophonist and clarinetist of fine nuances has long extended well beyond the borders of his Swiss homeland. The pianist Pablo Held proved himself in the line-up of the WDR Big Band and as the head of his own trio. Matthias Pichler's bass often plays alongside master Muthspiel, and Silvio Morger is an integral part of the Rhenish jazz world.
This team allows Frankl to be creatively daring. His music is complex enough to challenge any band but at the same time sounds so light and self-evident, as if it were conceived en passant and consummated in spontaneous communication. The result is a reciprocally inspiring collaboration, not only of music but of friendships that last beyond the studio. It is also the result of compositional competence, which the guitarist presents as a sovereign, humorous and willful tamer of sound space.
Max Frankl's Music
"Honesty is the secret to a good composition, in my opinion, when the composer always searches for what makes him wholly enthusiastic. It can take a long time to find how to develop a small, musical cell into a complete piece of music. Nonetheless, it is very important to not be content with anything less than that great or euphoric feeling. Musically important to my composing is that the music tells a story, from the solos to the feeling the piece imparts."
Max Frankl calls his album "Home". It is an avowal to what is musically important to him. Frankl presents music that is personal enough to formulate his language as composer, arranger and soloist and at the same time gives enough freedom to animate his colleagues to their own statement. All the participants are committed melodists and storytellers, whose modernity does not get lost in the abstraction, which compliments the colorful and dramatically lyrical ideas of the band leader. Neither sharp contrasts nor garish effects are a part of his approach. His songs develop, dynamics arise from the flow, and even in loud passages he maintains a tendency towards tenderness. It is improvised music with great respect for the synthesis of sounds, falling back on established archetypes no more than necessary but just enough to hold the form.
"Nighthawks" for example, the first piece on the album, heedfully guides one into the character of the album's texture. It is inspired by Edward Hopper's famous painting of the same name, in which melancholy night owls sit at the bar in an America seeking closeness. In contrast, the piece formulates a successively developing dialogue between bass clarinet and guitar, bedded in an attentively commentating body of sound. "Mr Goodchord" is a bow to the master of tricky harmonies, Mick Goodrick, probably the most influential guitarist behind the improvised modern, and fans out a spectrum of forms that reach from humorously reduced motifs to complexly entwined bass lines.
The chords from "Mantra" hover dazzlingly in sound space, begin to consolidate with the lyrically bound lines of the trombone to a free-flowing soundscape-homage to the American drummer Brian Blade and conclude in a dynamically frisky ballade. In contrast, "Der Bär kommt heim" ("The Bear comes Home") is a play on the jazz novel of the same name from Rafi Zabor and at the same time a sentimental conclusion to the trilogy dedicated to Max Frankl's cat, which began with Frankzone and now reached its musical eloquence with Wogram's trombone and Landolf's tenor saxophone.
"'Home' is my most comprehensive album yet. I took a great deal of time already in the composition process to specifically look at which musical direction I could take after my compositions for 'Sturmvogel' and 'Stories' and to explore what the Max in me wants to hear. Over many years now I have worked with exceedingly diverse influences and have found much inspiration in my partners. I have changed as a person, through many wonderful experiences with the European Jazz Orchestra or concerts with various bands since my last CDs. I have worked on my sound, on the freedom on my instrument, and I wanted to find new voicing and sharpen my improvisation skills so that I reach an openness that I value in the playing of so many fantastic musicians."
"Home" thus establishes a standpoint. Max Frankl positions his musical home in a moderate center of the contemporary improvised modern. He accredits himself with a fine sense for sound, passing ideas of the harmonic interweaving of stringent lines on to the ensemble. His excellent band acknowledges these with clear virtuosity, far-reaching creativity and empathetic musical interplay. And so the music grows until it becomes something which everyone it touches feels good about. A home.
German by: Ralf Dombrowski
"Max Frankl is already one of the outstanding artists of the young German Jazz scene".
Roland Spiegel, Bayerischerk Rundfunk (03/2009)
"This multifaceted music. Despite all its complexity it is at times gripping, touching, exciting, or
soothing. A whole world of moods is created; these three congenial travelers become storytellers
and one would like to listen to them more." Jazzpodium, Alexander Schmitz (02/2011)
"Phenomenal!" Gitarre&Bass (02/2011)
"Not only saxophonist Johannes Enders comes from Weilheim but also the guitarist Max
Frankl - a new guiding star of jazz from Germany." Jazzfestival Burghausen (03/2008)
"Sturmvogel is among the best jazz guitar music to come out of Europe in recent years".Gitarre&Bass
"'His sound is deeply rooted in jazz, but his compositions open doors to other worlds'. This is how
Wolfgang Muthspiel describes the art of his young instrumental colleague Max Frankl. Unlike
many other guitarists his guitar playing is not a superficial show at high speed, with too many
notes and effects. Frankl does have a remarkable technique, but he celebrates it in an very exciting
way with ref lection, intelligence, and transparency." Harald Rehmann, Deutschlandfunk (03/2010)
"For the trio, borders are there to be crossed and rules to be broken. No authority is capable of
stopping them. They take what they get and are open to what is new and unknown. Nevertheless,
these three pioneers produce sounds which convey a sense of grass-roots democracy – delicate,
fragile, hypnotic and bursting with the power of a vortex." Jazzthing, Reinhard Köchl (02/2011)