Before you look warily at the title and say to yourself, “WHO is Thimo Niesterok? I never heard of him,” as jazz fans often do when facing the unfamiliar, remember that music speaks louder than words, as Charlie Parker told Earl Wilson:
Isn’t that nice — like celestial tap-dancing by four masters? And just to show you there’s no studio trickery, here they are live:
Convinced? Thimo can display a quiet lyricism even at brisk tempos, but he also has wonderful energy and facility. Go back to the SHEIK and watch Dan Barrett — who’s played cornet for decades — look on like admiring, astonished, awe-struck Uncle Dan as Thimo negotiates the curves, never spilling a drop.
It’s clear that the young man [born in 1996, for goodness’ sake!] knows how to swing, and that he isn’t dependent on the other members of the ensemble to make him do so. Although they do. Of course you know Dan Barrett, you should know Harry Kanters, and even though Stefan Rey is new to me, he has a big tone, plays the right notes, bows beautifully, and swings in 2 or 4.
I know some readers will start the quest for who Thimo “Sounds Like,” to quote Barbara Lea. Perhaps it’s irresistible, especially given our collective nostalgia and yearning to hear more notes our Departed Heroes. But I wonder: if we say that X sounds just like Warm Jaws Sirloin, we no longer hear X because we are so busy listening for echoes of Warm. In some way, X has become Jonah in the Whale of the Past. Not useful to us, and wi-fi in the belly is poor.
I’m writing this, as you might have guessed, to tell you about Thimo’s second CD, TWO TALKIN’ HORNS, with Dan, Harry, and Stefan [beautifully recorded, by the way]. The songs are an engaging bunch: EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY / FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN / WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM / LULLABY OF THE LEAVES / I’M GONNA CHARLESTON BACK TO CHARLESTON / BREDA (by Thimo) / PLAY GYPSIES, DANCE GYPSIES / TWO TALKIN’ HORNS (Thimo) / COCKTAILS FOR TWO [Dan, vocal] / YOU’D BE SO NICE TO COME HOME TO / I’LL BE SEEING YOU / LULU’S BACK IN TOWN / HEART AND SOUL //
Every effort is made here — effortlessly — to keep things light and bright and sparkling, and varied. The horns switch off lead and improvised passages; there’s jammed polyphony, riffs, and backgrounds; sounds varied through mutes; the quartet subdivided into solos and duos; split choruses; if a song has a worthwhile verse, you’ll hear it. I thought of the quartet of a small orchestra, every architectural potential gently explored in the best Braff manner. Incidentally, the title track harks back to the Rex Stewart – Dickie Wells CHATTER JAZZ, but loquacity of that sort is exhibited only there.
And Thimo’s nicely compact liner notes show that he is articulate even when the horn is in its case:
The intimate sound of small bands without drums (nothing against drummers!) has haunted me for a long time. This instrumentation leaves space for a different kind of playing, for a special way of feeling time and creating melodies. When Dan and I met in 2018 and he suggested recording together I was thrilled — as you can imagine! This is a collection of songs made by Dan and me. I tried to pick songs that really touch me — both when listening and playing. But for Dan it seemed to be even more fun to think about the repertoire. He came up with songs that he had been wanting to play for years, almost forgotten, and it was such a pleasure to see him go through his mental library of hundreds of songs and pick some of the sweetest melodies I’ve heard! Together with the incredibly swinging Harry Kanters (p) and Stefan Rey (b) this album full of joy, swing, and humor will hopefully lighten a cloudy day or complete the mood of a cozy evening with a good drink! Whatever it might be — enjoy!
I did. You will. You can hear more and purchase copies here.
May your happiness increase!