Kulturforum, Kiel, April 2017

The New Zealand jazz pianist Alan Broadbent has been composing for more than 50 years – “mostly past the mainstream and for the drawer”, as he too modestly admits in the KulturForum. After all, he arranged for greats like Woody Herman, accompanied Chet Baker and Irene Kral, and won two Grammys in the 1990s. He now found a congenial lyricist in the British singer Georgia Mancio. The title of their joint album “Songbook” , which will be released next Sunday on Broadbent’s 70th birthday and was presented at a CD release concert at the KulturForum on Saturday, is not reminiscent of the “Great American Songbook” , the famous collection of Jazz standards. Because this is where new standards are set.

All the more interesting when the two chat out of the box how their “songbook” was created in the past two years. Broadbent drew from its bulging drawers, Mancio congenially provided the “Songs without Words” with texts, using the speaking titles as inspiration. “No note or syllable had to be changed, everything fit together immediately,” enthuses Broadbent. Phil Steen (bass) and Kai Bussenius (drums) complement the duo to the quartet just as seamlessly. “We only had to rehearse once,” reports Georgia Mancio of the short preparation for the German premiere of the album. This is not only due to the skills of the two colleagues, but also probably because the “Songbook”adheres to the choreography of what makes jazz songs standard. Without being epigonal, the “classic” idioms and varieties of jazz are called up: For example, the swing in the literal opening act ” The Journey Home” , moving Bossa Nova in the cheerful “Someone’s Sun” or a sensitive ballad tone under the delicate flowers of the ” Cherry Tree ” . Even misunderstandings develop productively. So Mancio involuntarily thought of Bud Powell at the rapidly foaming bebop number “One For Bud” . “When I was composing, I was thinking of beer: Budweiser,” laughs Broadbent.

Small stories that life writes and retell the Georgia Mancio’s lyrics in romantic pictures of nature between earth and sky ( “Close To The Moon” ). Such moments become particularly intimate when Broadbent and Mancio not only play music in a duo, as in “Hide Me From The Moonlight” , but actually speak to each other. The intimate dialogue between pianist and singer , between the old (Broadbent’s piano playing sometimes reminds one of Chopin) and the new – this makes such songs standard.

They can also be innovative, bulky and across the “main streams” like the admitted “Quiet Is The Star” . In it, Broadbent accompanies the singing of stars with soft chord dabs as if in a chorale. Could and should once become “standard” – a new one.