Ben Wolfe - Bagdad Theater - Back

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With I AM, Altfrid M. Sicking has fulfilled a long-cherished wish during the pandemic forced break: After decades as a sideman, permanent soloist in the Götz Alsmann Band and as a university lecturer in Münster and at the Folkwang in Essen, the vibraphonist and marimba specialist has rounded up a few favorite colleagues to record an album under his own name exclusively with original compositions.

As a busy concert and studio musician for the WDR Bigband, Charlie Mariano or Romy Camerun, among others, Sicking knows how to deal with diverse styles and genres, so the restrained arrangements are very consciously laid out terrains for relaxed soloistic development.

The basic quartet à la “Modern Jazz” with full-grip piano voicings (Sebastian Altekamp), walking bass (Ingo Senst) and very swinging, sometimes funky accented drums (Christian Schoenefeldt) is occasionally complemented by two smooth brass players (Christian Kappe on trumpet and flugelhorn as well as Martin Classen on tenor sax) and – when it gets danceable – by longtime Alsmann Band colleague Markus Paßlick in the middle of the percussion.

Sicking gives the classic ambience between swing and neo-cool a stylistically confident update: balladic, up-tempo numbers with bop appeal and movement-promoting Latin infusions. A round, lively album with vintage charm recorded live over two days with audible joy of playing.