Mark Wyand is not really old fashioned. By teaching us a little history he tells us stories that concern us right here and now.

Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg, one of the city's most vibrant spots. During the day, hundreds of trams rattle over the cobble-stones. At night, party-goers scurry to catch one of the vehicles that might take them somewhere fancy. Bottles are clanging, dogs are barking, those who had a few drinks too many tell the whole street about it, until in the morning crying babies take over.

Surprisingly it is here that the musician Mark Wyand has found a place to settle. A hideaway to produce his lucid, minimalistic adaptions of jazz classics that seem so contrary to the city's notorious pulsating vibes.

Mark Wyand is a saxophonist. He has delved into the history of jazz and knows the matter by heart. Of course he plays standards, but if that were the end of the story, there'd be no reason to listen to his album I'm Old Fashioned. Byplayingwell-known standards, Mark Wyand cherishes traditions and transforms them. He tells his own stories. Stories he doesn't have to make up, because they are being written right around him. He doesn't necessarily agree with everything he experiences.

To him, jazz works as a kind of filter or even as a magnifying glass. With his interpretations of classics from the past he questions our present times.

I'm Old Fashioned is a quiet album. Every note has its place and is played calmly with great precision. On five tracks the singer Ofri Brin effortlessly adapts to Mark Wyand's musical intentions. She expands his ideas, allows the impulses to evolve and then carefully leads them back to complete the circle. Wyand appreciates understatement. He loves the suave tunes that allow room for individual perception. 'To me playing used to be something relaxing, the entering of a different sphere' he states. 'It still is, but I have become more critical. Sometimes I'd even prefer a little distance to music.'

When it comes to Mark Wyand's music, subtle and silent should not be confused with humble or simple. His melodies soothe the ear and create a sublime intensity once inside the listener's head. They are gently ticking reminders of a man's creativity that is fed from the impressions he gains living in a booming and buzzing metropole like Berlin. A struggle to make peace with the city by embracing its bustle and stepping back from it at the same time. I'm Old Fashioned is the galvanization of two different worlds. The laid-back ease of jazz classics interpreted from the stand of modern pop mentality. Timeless character and extreme diversity brought to an unexpected blend. Unlike other jazz musicians, who decompose melodies, Wyand seeks unity of the soul.

To Mark Wyand, this album sets an important landmark on his way to completion as a jazz musician.  He examines his artistic status quo, glancing over the abilities he has gained over the years, questioning the impact his idols have had on his own style. What kind of a musician has he become compared to those, who have impressed him? As a teenager he read a remark on the back of a Joe Lovano album, saying that every tenorist will reach a point where he needs to play Body & Soul. Wyand has reached this point, but Body & Soul is not on his album. 'I'm Old Fashioned reveals what Jazz means to me. What I love about the music and what annoys me. What touches me amongst all these records in my shelves. Some I have listened to excessively. Some once in a while and others never at all, although I should have. I have chosen songs for this album that have been my personal hallows for a long time. I usually write my own songs, but it was time to state how I see myself concerning this specific musical context.'

Wyand's interpretations are daring. His versions highly evolve the original context. However, he concentrates on the core of the songs that have been rewritten and reharmonised uncountable times. He treats every melody with sophistication, omitting unnecessary ornamentation. Exploring the individual timbre of every song seemed most important. 'I have been influenced by pop music, but I'm a jazz musician. I didn't want my album to sound like a pop record, because that would have been pretentious. But I wanted to be able to move freely, give way to my own associations without being fenced in by any dogma.'

Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman, John Coltrane's Lonnie's Lament, Miles Davis' Blue in Green, Antonio Carlos Jobim's Once I Loved, Dave Bruebeck's In Your Own Sweet Way, Richard Roger's My Heart Stood Still, Jerome Kern's I'm Old Fashioned, Kurt Weill's Speak Low: Wyand plays the classics, but he does it in his own way. Neither does he seek repetition, nor absolution by the jazz community. Mark Wyand's aim is to form a connection between past and present. Standards provide shells that he can fill with his individual content. He smoothens the old songs, gently weaving new threads, opening new doors with a whisper. He enchants the listener, who follows him onto an undiscovered piece of land. He transfers the passion and longing he hears in music by Radiohead or Goldfrapp to songs like Lonely Woman without simply copying pop or stealing its melodies. By indulging in Jazz he transcends it. What a breathtaking experience.



Mark Wyand (sax)

Frank Möbus (guit)

Wolfgang Zechlin (p)

Andreas Edelmann (b)

Martjn Vink (dr)

featuring: Ofri Brin (voc)


available here

© 2011