Award winning pianist and composer Franz on Chossy’s, after working for five years with his Quintet, which has been celebrated as one of the most “most fascinating and entertaining bands of the Netherlands." (Jazzenzo, 2013), returns back to his piano Trio, which which he released his first two Cds and won the Dutch Jazz Competition in the categories “best band” and “best soloist” back in 2006.
On this new Trio album “Life Theater” he manages in a clever way to take the musical possibilities of the quintet along to the trio form. More than once you think you are listening to a quartet, quintet, perhaps even sextet. There are few composers who play so smartly with sounds and are able to use the qualities of the instrumentalists, including themselves, so well. Even more than ever, his classical background and many encounters with musical cultures reinforce the great effect of his music.
'Life Theater' is a soundtrack to life, in which the different pieces represent life phases. In this he is a perfectionist with a clear narrative in mind, in which the compositions all have a personal background, just like the chosen titles, and in which the order of the whole story is important for the whole listening experience. In this comprehensive story characters are processed that you can meet or character traits that you discover within yourself. The wealth of sounds stimulate the imagination. We hear the peaceful playing and exploring of a child, dark mountain roads that have to be overcome, the pleasant and the nasty people we encounter, but also the ageing and the beauty of transience. The first four compositions form the first half of life, the middle part (The Wanderer) is the lifeline itself and the last four pieces represent the last part of life.
At almost every moment, perhaps in every tone, there is a certain melancholy. Franz looks for the right chords for captivating drama. But it rarely sounds very heavy. 'Life Theater' feels like an exhilarating journey, where you see all kind of things, meet all kind of people, in order to come back in a cheerful and fresh way. Once in a while, during a climax with repetitive motifs, when a scene seems to end in a catastrophe, he closes with comforting notes.
Musically, the album is playful and well thought-out. The irregular and compound time signatures sound very natural because of the spontaneous interplay of all three musicians. Drummer Kristijan Krajncan, who also provided the cello overdubs, is a master in playing with and around the beat (literarily: “playing and playing with measures”) and senses perfectly when the music requires volume or subtlety. For over a decade, Clemens van der Feen has been the most agile bass player in the Netherlands, profiling himself in diverse worlds with simultaneously impulsive and beautifully anticipatory play.
And Franz von Chossy has distinguished himself with his crystal clear sounds. Both within the virtuoso solos as well as the tiny played motifs you can hear all the intention. In the repeating/repetitive themes, the effective unison playing with the bass and the lamentable balkan rhythms you imagine yourself with your eyes closed in a movie in which the images come naturally.