Anthony Cox, Cornelius Claudio Kreusch, Johannes Tonio Kreusch – HOTEL CASABLANCA


Cornelius Claudio Kreusch – piano
Johannes Tonio Kreusch – guitar
Anthony Cox – bass

Side A: „immersion“
Side B: „Duality“

At its best, a music album is a journey, for the musicians as well as for the listeners. Like hardly any other subject, music offers the chance to get from here to there and from yesterday to tomorrow without preconditions or borders, with one’s thoughts as well as one’s feelings. As a universal world language, it can take everyone with it. The adventure is all the greater when the tour guides come from different genres, but freely and impartially seek a common path. Like the avant-garde bassist Anthony Cox, the groove-oriented jazz pianist Cornelius Claudio Kreusch and the classical guitarist Johannes Tonio Kreusch. On their new album, the three now invite you to check into the “HOTEL CASABLANCA” as the basis of a remarkable expedition.

Many years ago, the three played together for the first time as a trio as part of the “Ottobrunner Concerts” led by the Kreusch’s, spontaneously because a workshop had fallen through. A magical encounter, after which Cox realized that it was something that absolutely had to be repeated and documented. This then took some time, but two and a half years ago the project literally took shape: “GESTALT!” was the name of the album, which sought musical forms out of improvisation. The definition of the word Gestalt was decisive: “A configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts”.

And which was again so fulfilling for the three that it demanded a sequel. So now the time has come, and as the title “Hotel Casablanca” already suggests, this time it’s more about movement than form. “The title is meant to evoke associations without being too exact,” explains Cornelius Claudio Kreusch. “The album is like a hotel with all kinds of different rooms and guests. In one room it’s like this, in the next it sounds completely different. It just has something of a thousand-and-one nights, We don’t have a specific reference, we wanted to evoke an idea of being on the road.”

Because they had already tested thinking and playing together, they ventured even more freedom. “This time we met in the Stuttgart studio without any guidelines at all and just let ourselves drift,” reports Cornelius Claudio Kreusch. “And we didn’t change anything afterwards, just – the three of us! – and rearranged some things for the dramaturgy of the album.” The titles found by Anthony Cox are also like hotel rooms, are simply meant to clarify distinguishing features. Unlike “Gestalt!”, this also resulted in duo or solo pieces, such as the bass solo “Steak Knives”. And Johannes Tonio Kreusch works even more with preparations, which sometimes, for example on “Country” almost sound like electronic music – “but that is all played purely acoustically”, as he emphasizes.

As great as the freedom is, and as exuberant the tonal variety, everything sounds amazingly enjoyable and compelling. This is of course due to the trust and familiarity of the three. Not self-evident, even if Cornelius Claudio and Johannes Tonio Kreusch are brothers. They are unequal brothers, not only because of the different genres in which they are active, but also because of the extroverted character of one and the introverted character of the other. But the opposites have long complemented each other perfectly, whether in their joint work as artistic directors of festivals and concert series or in making music together. Anthony Cox, on the other hand, is one of Cornelius Claudio Kreusch’s oldest friends and companions: “Back when I was studying at Berklee College of Music, Anthony was the first American musician who accepted me completely, opened doors for me and gave me the feeling that I belonged,” he says.

In any case, there is no doubt about the individual technical and creative class required especially for such a daring adventure as “Hotel Casablanca” in any of the three. Their individual careers already provide exhaustive information about this. As one of the few German jazz musicians, Cornelius Claudio Kreusch is also a household name in the USA. For many years his main residence was an artist’s loft a few blocks from the World Trade Center, with neighbors such as Philip Glass, Jim Jarmusch and Robert Rauschenberg. He worked with the likes of Greg Osby, Bobby Watson, Kenny Garrett, Marvin Smitty Smith, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Blake and Salif Keïta. The stimulating atmosphere pushed him to his jazz fusion with funk and Afro-Caribbean, anticipating today’s trends; with his bands like BlackMudSound or Fo Doumbé he played in the legendary New York clubs like “Blue Note”, “Knitting Factory” or “Zinc Bar” and also on the stages of the big festivals and concert halls; his solo “Live! At Steinway Hall / New York” was nominated for a Grammy, and his internet company MUSICJUSTMUSIC®, with which he also became an award-winning entrepreneur, was also based in Munich and New York for a long time. Having returned to Munich a few years ago, he has become a permanent European fixture with his trio together with Zaf Zapha and Maxime Zampieri, continuing to collaborate with Bobby Watson or Lukas Ligeti, Simon Stockhausen, or Joachim Kühn, but above all solo. With an unmistakable jazz style of his own, which in addition to the world music influences recently (for example on the double album “Zauberberg – A Musical Hommage to Thomas Mann”) has also revealed the classical roots again.

Which are, of course, incomparably stronger in Johannes Tonio Kreusch, especially since he had begun studying philosophy before deciding on music. But he, too, has an American past, studied in New York at the Juilliard School, lived for a time in his brother’s loft, and had his solo concert debut in 1996 at Carnegie Hall. But he was soon drawn back to old Europe, the antithesis of the “faster, higher, further” approach to music that is also popular in New York. Here, among other things, he played his way into the first rank of the classics with his revolutionary Heitor Villa Lobos recordings, but always remained on the lookout for new sounds and expressive possibilities of the guitar sound, which also made him a formative figure on the scene as a pedagogue and festival director. His Hermann Hesse homage “Siddhartha” excellently demonstrates his openness to a creative approach to the guitar and to experiments in playing technique, but also his ability to improvise within a classical tonal framework.

But the key to the trio seeking “Gestalt!” and exploring “Hotel Casablanca” is Anthony Cox. “He hasn’t let up on bringing us together,” the Kreuschs confirm, “he conceptualizes the moods, he finds the structure for our three stringed instruments. And our project is extremely important to him because it shows him in a different way.” Until now, he has been part of the inventory of the New York jazz scene. Cox has worked almost exclusively there with old masters such as Sam Rivers, Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, Dewey Redman, Geri Allen or Craig Harris as well as with innovators such as Henry Threadgill or John Scofield; he was a permanent member of the bands of Anthony Davis, James Newton or Marty Ehrlich and has himself released some great albums as a bandleader since the nineties. But Cox does not see himself as a traditionalist, but as a free spirit who wants to find new ways in music.

He is now treading this path on “Hotel Casablanca” with the KreuschBros. Together they explore timbres and expressive possibilities, find different beauties at every turn, sometimes elegiac, sometimes gruff, let the instruments speak about the common feeling. The sessions of the three were captured not only by recording devices, but also with the camera. So soon you can go on this fascinating journey, starting from the “Hotel Casablanca”, not only on the album, but also with a “road movie”.



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