Philipp Gropper (saxophone), Andreas Lang (bass), Oliver Steidle (drums), Håvard Wiik (piano)
All compositions by Philipp Gropper.
Recorded by Marco Birkner on October 27th 2011 at Studio P4, Berlin. Mixed and mastered by Marco Birkner June 2012 at Studio P1, Berlin.
Philm perform a change between light and shadow, claustrophobia and blasted vastness. Tenor saxophonist Philipp Gropper is the author and genius behind it. Gropper’s distinctive style that many listeners may be familiar with from the trio Hyperactive Kid finds it continuation in Philm. The sound is a combination of familiar jazz idols and his own vocabulary. This way he manages to develop a recognizable individuality, far from the academically cultivated sound and muffled or screaming “free jazz monotony”. The quartet is awake and responsive. For the listener composition and improvisation can be hard to distinguish from time to time. The overall very nested and nervous tracks develop harsh context changes. Delivering something beautiful, they are uncomfortable and innovative.
Despite the fact that this artistic product by P. Gropper represents the first release under his own name, the saxophonist is far from being a newcomer. Quite to the contrary, he has been part of the glut of international elitist jazz saxophonists for ages. Regardless of the question whether the world of jazz schools should produce still greater numbers of unemployed musicians, Gropper stands for the quite obviously most sucessful crossing-attempt of numerous role models and idols. The final result of this experiment is a marvellously and unmistakably “individual” Gropper (easily to be distinguished from his colleagues). Using his infallible musical instinct, the future award winner selects an illustrious small crowd of semi-stars for his needs. The thus produced 6 tracks that luckily come without a concept or a programmatic general idea and are composed together by Gropper himself each tell a story of their own, needless to say a strictly abstract one. In a word: The compositions are all very beautifully nested, elude any idiomatic definition, avoid trend and crossover tricks that are unfortunately popular among jazz musicians and producers, and are, much to my liking, often hard to distinguish from improvisation. – Rudi Mahall (July 2012)