Michael Wollny Trio: Ghosts

The German pianist's creaking, squeaking trio, whether working original or standard, creates what has been called the first Gothic jazz album


The Times of London called this the first Gothic jazz album. Listening to the eerie atmospherics that buzz and hum around the tracks, you can see what they mean.

In a typically innovative and dramatic performance, Wollny’s trio take some familiar, unfamiliar and new material into the spiritual realm. The acoustics are often mysterious, creaking and squeaking, adding an aura of mystery to things.

There is a sense of connection between music’s past and present, how both interweave and how, to quote the poet Brendan Kennelly “all the songs are living ghosts and long for a living voice.” Wollny’s trio certainly creates that voice for the material.

On the well-known songs, it is not so much the originals as interpretations from past masters such as Nina Simone and John Coltrane that shape the sound. Wollny’s originals fit right in with the general ambience of unease and dark, fragmented sounds.

In the release notes for Ghosts, Wollny explains that the atmospherics for the album were decided before the tracks. The importance of getting the most out of every note, through use of reverb, distortion and low-tuned strings, framed the band’s approach to the recording. This is described as “Southern Gothic” – a mood and style that seems to be propelling this highly experimental and gifted trio into new, perhaps even darker, territory.

I Loves You Porgy; Willow’s Song; Hauntology; Hand Of God; Ghosts; Monsters Never Breathe; Erikonig; In A Sentimental Mood; She Moved Through The Fair; Beat The Drum Slowly (37.53)
Wollny (p); Tim Lefebvre (b); Eric Schaefer (d). Hamburg, 17-18 June 2022.
ACT 9956-2