In the nineties, the quartet Die Enttäuschung [The Disappointment] released their first record solely with pieces by Thelonius Monk. Die Enttäuschung managed the feat of radically remaining faithful to Monk and staying in close touch with the originals, and yet placing them on their heads. The four from Berlin celebrated a great success several years later with the recordings of the entire works of Monk on the 3-CD Intakt box with the pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. The media has reacted euphorically to “Monk’s Casino” (Intakt 100).
Now Rudi Mahall, Axel Dörner, Jan Roder and Uli Jennessen have released a CD with 17 of their own compositions. “This band knows no borders between yesterday and tomorrow” writes the German magazine Jazzzeitung about the quartet. “Die Enttäuschung is more Berlin than Berlin itself and, moreover, unparalleled in nearly every respect. Collective improvisations beyond convention will drive up your blood pressure and fantastic solos take away your breath.” Or it is, as the music journalist Felix Klopotek (Spex) sees the music from Die Enttäuschung, “concentrated intensity. Exactly that what one wants to hear from jazz today.”
Downbeat: 4 1/2 stars
What’s the best jazz combo today? An elder statesman’s all-star band? Some recent hotshot concervatory grads? A mid-career hero’s touring group? For my money, none of the above. Instead, an unassuming, mildly self-abnegating foursome from Berlin is the heaviest working band in small-group jazz.
Die Enttäuschung - a name that invites its own comments (and deflates any grand selfassertion like the above), translated as „the disappointment“ - has been around since the end of the `90s. … Playing intimate quartet music firmly rooted in free-bop, with an open sound, melodic improvising and a clear delight in swinging (and interrupting the swing), the group’s frontline is immediately arresting, a gush of musicality. Gangly, towering bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall is a visual mismatch for the diminutive trumpeter Alex Dörner, but when they dart and swoop together, trading ideas, sparring and lifting each other to another level, their compatibility is beyond question.
Mahall is a monster. With Eric Dolphy’s sound (sometimes closer to the master’s gulping bottom end) and Ornette Coleman’s phraseology, he’s a child of the `60s, but he’s also an accomplished free improviser. You can hear how that expand his options. His soloing is irrepressible, and there’s nary a lull in the action across the intire disc.
Dörner, well-known for having overhauled the trumpet vocabulary in improvised music, deftly shows the lyrical side of his playing, infrequently durning to sound-texture, extended tech or unvoiced breath. He can conjure past figures, from Cootie Williams to Tony Fruscella, but his bright, beautiful sound in personal and hi’s intensely inventive on the reduced harmonies.
The tunes have a Monkish angularity, but the sound is uniquely Die Enttäuschung. On „Vorwärts-Rückwärts“ (played twice), the simpatico rhythm section of bassist Jan Roder and drummer Uli Jennessen sped up and slow down with hilarious results. Humor is a key part of the group’s m.o.: take the dopey, near-bossa „Drive It Down On The Piano,“ by Jennessen. Also, any kitsch is burned up in the heat of the improvising, as on the drummer’s equally tropical „Very Goode.“ The tunes aren’t ends in themselves, though. The band takes the good old idea that charts are springboards for playing, for music that is not on the page. There’s an absence of rigidity, serious listening, a playful attitude, humility and muscical ambition, all rolled into one. No disappointment, at any level.
John Corbett, Downbeat September 2008
released January 1, 2007
Axel Dörner: Trumpet
Rudi Mahall: Bass Clarinet
Jan Roder: Bass
Uli Jennessen: Drums
Recorded 2006 in Berlin by Christian Betz and Axel Dörner. Cover art: Katja Mahall. Graphic design: Jonas Schoder. Produced by Die Enttäuschung and Intakt Records. Published by Intakt Records
supported by 9 fans who also own “DIE ENTTÄUSCHUNG”
This quintet has acquired legendary status as a working unit...all the musicians are exemplary at their craft and DD is one of my 'Big5'...he is an exquisite composer of both depth and breadth of vision...you can instantly recognise Dave's DNA in a tune...what's more, you feel there is also so much more to come!;his powers of expression are so special.
These compositions are from the heart and I can only suggest that you take them to yours...
supported by 8 fans who also own “DIE ENTTÄUSCHUNG”
It's almost hard to believe there's any space for Tim to fit in when they play this stuff as a duo! The magical uber-complex counterpoint flowing from and resolving to the killer tunes has a similar feel to the full band Berne but these are clarifying in their complexity - you can understand all the moving parts on the same level. Also perhaps the best showcase of Mr Mitchell's solo skills I've heard - he's fully in his element! Giles
supported by 8 fans who also own “DIE ENTTÄUSCHUNG”
"Great" is a word I have consciously avoided using on many occasions to describe music or musicians...the more you use it, the more undervalued it becomes; this is an exception...this is one great quartet; this music might even change your life. John Cratchley