For events like this, it’s always better to get there early, and on March 2nd I was glad I did, for although Martinique Bar at Monumentenstraße 29 in Berlin is housed in a series of interconnected rooms, in the main one: it was virtually and quickly standing room only.
With a moderately sized yet loyal following: Uli Lenz (piano), Gerhard Kubach (DoubleBass), and Zam Johnson (Drums), the members of the jazz trio, mingled with the guests, seeking out old friends and welcoming newcomers, in a venue I would call both intimate and open; directed in tone but slightly chaotic as staff hurried back and forth to resupply beer and wine and dish out appetizers.
There is a special dynamic about this trio, from its charismatic leader to its flamboyantly friendly drummer and the quieter yet no less intense bass player. To be a performer, a pre-requisite is being comfortable in the public eye, the centerpiece of a crowd but there’s a big difference discerning fans can sense in those who crave the spotlight and those who are willing to be there to simply “share the love.”
And it’s love you can feel in every stroke of the sticks, ever strum on the strings, every brush and tap of the keys. You can feel the love of the music, the special rhythm and anti-rhythm that is jazz, and how the guys go to their instruments with a curious mixture of joy, anticipation and pride.
Their enthusiasm becomes your enthusiasm, and soon the house was jumping. Even when the tenants upstairs complained of the noise, Zam gave a particularly strong flurry on the drum and a decisive clash on a cymbal that was happily applauded, and he was backed up by Uli and Kubi who only laughed.
When the performance was finished, you could see a kind of reluctance in the players, an apology and disappointment at having to stop for the moment, to let the spirit they had invoked settle down until the next time. And there will be a next time….
Truly giving meaning to the phrase, “For the love of it….” The Jazz Trio of Lenz-Kubach-Johnson, will be playing at the WABE, Danzigerstr. 101 on Friday, April 12th. Entry at 19.00, concert begins: 20.00. Tickets: 15€ / 10€, please call to make reservations as seating is limited 030 902953850.
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Uli has taken the style of all the old masters of piano and has developed a unique personal style that deals with tradition and the future of modern jazz.
Kubis is one of the few bassists to come to a music situation and read the music down and make it his own.
Zam is about the swing and the groove.