Mark Lotz: Freshta

Virtuoso Dutch flautist leads reeds, piano, cello and drums in a set mixing lively modal swing with chamber jazz and world-music flavours

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Born in Germany and raised in Thailand and Uganda, flautist, composer and educator Mark Alban Lotz (b. 1963) is a true citizen of the world. His work continues to take him to all corners of the globe, and while his compositions often gravitate towards European chamber-jazz orthodoxy his music retains a distinct openness to the modes and rhythms of Africa and the East.

Freshta began its life as a Dutch festival commission, and the album is dedicated to the memory of Afghan women’s rights and pro-democracy activist Freshta Kohistani, murdered by the Taliban in 2020 aged just 29. All 11 pieces are in fact dedicated to female activists from Asia and Africa, and while Lotz doesn’t regard it as a political statement his intention is certainly to celebrate the extraordinary lives which lie behind each story.

His stellar quintet more than rises to the occasion, and the writing and performances are so strong that it’s almost impossible to pick out highlights. The urgent Tyner-esque vamp of the title track instantly grabs the attention, Lotz’s agile solo laced with just the right amount of edge. Puntin is at his most passionate on the angular Malalai, Kölsch’s snare patterns sounding ominously like gunfire. Malala, dedicated to Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, is steeped in the academic rigour of European formalism, while the atmospheric Durga’s Lalit is a fascinating shapeshifter. Van Vliet really digs in on Frouzan, and I’d defy anybody not to be swept away by the dancing rhythms of Isabel (dedicated to Mexican activist Isabel Cabanillas).

Lotz’s deep-seated belief that the ideas of peace and freedom are too powerful to destroy proves to be a powerful creative spark, and despite the undeniable gravity of the subject matter Freshta is ultimately an expression of hope, defiance and joy.


Discography
Freshta; Malalai; Malala; Durga’s Lalit; Nasrin; Isabel; Wangari; Frouzan; Mahbouba; Hasina; For Viji (60.26)
Lotz (f, bf, contra-bass flute, bamboo flute, elec) with Claudio Puntin (cl, bcl, tarogato, elec); Jeroen van Vliet (p, elec); Jörg Brinkmann (clo, elec); Dirk-Peter Kölsch (d). Amsterdam, 2-3 May 2022.
Zennez / Berthold Records ZR2023023