UK Vibe / Mike Gates – 05.05.16
★★★★★ The triple vinyl album is a beautiful thing to behold. Original, inspiring artwork graces the sleeve, along with extensive liner notes from John Fordham … The sound quality coming from my speakers is impeccable as the opening track from Retrospection One, Lennie Tristano’s “317 East 32nd Street” kicks into life. Big, beautiful brass is the order of the day. Koller’s originals are stunning, the pristine and intelligent arrangements a beacon of light, at times piercing and fierce, whilst at other times, as heard on “Solitudes”, swimming with subtlety and grace. Koller’s music isn’t necessarily always the easiest to connect with, but once my ears were tuned in correctly, I discovered a depth within the music that is rarely heard. The celebratory “Ah-leu-cha” takes Charlie Parker’s composition onto a new level. It swings like hell and brings the best out of the soloists. Steve Swallow provides the backdrop for “Clouds of Joy”, a tune that begins like a traditional jazz/blues piece, before developing into an uplifting journey, its melody carrying the listener skyward.
Whether you are a big band music lover, a Hans Koller fan, or a jazz enthusiast who just enjoys great music, “Retrospection” is a must-have triple album. There’s so much to enjoy and it’ll keep you occupied for days…weeks…months. Whichever way you look at it, it’s an incredible achievement from Hans Koller, and has to be rated as one of the most important and musically rewarding releases in 2016.
Read the full review
Jazz Journal / Michael Tucker – July 2016
“A force to be reckoned with on the British scene … his approach to the interplay of the historical and the contemporary is as open-minded as it is creative … every track here will amply reward attention.”
Jazzwise / Stuart Nicholson – June 2016
“Bavarian pianist Hans Koller has been resident in the UK for 25 years and presents a sumptuous three-disc anthology of his work on Retrospection. An illustration of his broad musical horizon, the first disc gives a nod of approbation to bebop (through reworking of originals by Parker, Tristano and Herbie Nichols); disc two salutes German Romantic poetry through the work of Friedrich Hölderlin sung in translation by Christine Tobin, while the final disc features the NDR German Radio Big Band with Koller arrangements that bring the influence of Gil Evans, George Russell and Mike Gibbs to the fore. Impressive stuff.”
“A sumptuous three disc anthology – impressive stuff.”
The Jazz Breakfast / Peter Bacon – 10.05.16
“… There is an introspective, intellectual quality about the music but also a searching spirituality; there is a tartness in the harmony but it isn’t harsh or sour; there is no sweetness here and yet there is warmth; it’s all deeply serious but there is a smile lurking at the corner of the mouth; it’s both strong and strenuous, yet also gentle and pliant; it’s in many ways reserved and cool, yet also generous.
There may be no easy answers, then, but it’s still full of love: for the music, for Hans’ fellow musicians, for the act of communication itself, the chance to play for people, the opportunity to be heard. A listener can feel the love in this music.
Hans Koller has made some fine music in the past, but Retrospection feels like a real leap forward. One album on its own would be solid evidence of that; three all at once is an abundance of riches. Buy a limited edition set before they all go is my advice – this is not just a purchase for this year but an investment in your listening future.
Kind Of Jazz / Erminia Yardley – 09.08.16
★★★★ Pianist and composer Hans Koller’s triple CD, Retrospection, is a bold and ambitious release.
It is not every day we are offered a three-album release, so when Stoney Lane Records, the innovative Birmingham-based label, issued Hans Koller’s triple CD, Retrospection, it was a mighty treat! The albums are also available on limited edition 180 gram vinyl.
Retrospection is an incredible work of art. This is not simply for the great line up of international musicians, but also the sheer ambition. There are stupendous renditions like Ah-leu-cha (Charlie Parker) on album one, Der Tag Mit Seinem Lichte (J.S. Bach), but also interpretations to shake your inner core like Half Of Life pt. 1 & 2, based on a poem by the great German writer Hölderlin. The two pieces are constructed in such a way that it is difficult to get away; they entrap one and leave one pondering, because such is the power of poetry.
Koller’s late father was a jazz-loving man and Half Of Life is more than just a potent piece of music; It is a heart-warming and soul-enriching composition. One can clearly hear the passionate words (notes) by Hans for his late father in all this.
Stoney Lane never ceases to amaze me. It has offered us artists like Mike Fletcher, TG Collective and Mark Pringle and now Hans Koller. Also listen out for one of my favourite musicians, Percy Pursglove, on trumpet on album one and two!
There is no stopping Stoney Lane, which has my total admiration and interest. How refreshing to see!
Retrospection is a must have!