FLY MAGIC is saxophonist-composer, bandleader & scholar Timo Vollbrecht’s longstanding signature ensemble. A genre-exploding unit with a bold sense of creativity & intent. After 2 acclaimed records and performances in over 30 countries, their 3rd album, Givers & Takers, marks a new chapter: It conjures acoustic delicateness with otherworldly electronic soundscapes of orchestral width. Recorded in the studio while on a 12-date-tour, it captures the unique chemistry the 4 musicians developed on the road while using the stage as their laboratory. It is out now on BERTHOLD Records. Originally from Germany and based out of New York, Timo is a celebrated creative force on the Brooklyn music scene who fuses jazz with post-rock, electronics & instrumental songwriting. Described as a “luminously-fine bandleader” by the NYC Jazz Record, he has performed at landmark stages like the Village Vanguard. He is also the new Director of Jazz Studies at Brown University. Together with Keisuke Matsuno (guitar), Elias Stemeseder (piano & synthesizers) & Dayeon Seok (drums), he formed a band with no bassist. Instead, Stemeseder – who just led his residency at John Zorn’s iconic Stone venue – plays synth-bass while his other hand operates other keys. Thematically, Givers & Takers refers to Timo’s underlying sense of community through music. The album emerges from this place of human interactivity. It features four musically synergetic friends of diverse backgrounds entering into an improvisational dialog marked by mutual trust. Giving & Taking is a natural part of this process. The fact that Givers & Takers is also the name of their favorite bar in Brooklyn underpins the importance that Timo and his bandmates assign to the gathering. With Givers & Takers, Timo is presenting his vision of a band that is truly original, avoids easy categorization, and blends acoustic and electronic sounds enveloped in intricate song forms.
I had the pleasure of getting toGether with Timo to dive into the creation of this project. We got into how one records this open music without a bassist, how working this music out live during a tour assisted in the heart of the music and how this is really friends making music, and how THAT is part of the entire process of seeing the initial vision through. We talk about the diversity of the individuals making the music and how that fits into the music itself with the live spirit of an audience helping to wrap this into its final building. Once again, this kind of music that encourages spaces for created improvisation and the ‘I Don’t Know’ also does the same for a listener in my opinion. Timo tells me what he would drink at the bar with these friends as well as building a setlist choosing two tracks off the new album. FLY MAGIC does just that for me.