We’re five volcanoes erupting. Putting that on disk could be dangerous for electronic players.
For Tini Thomsen, an artistic life without the desire for something new, without the broadening of her musical horizon is inconceivable. The baritone saxophonist and composer is always on the lookout for new expressive possibilities, forms and fields of activity. She has given Sergei Prokofiev’s musical fairy tale Peter and the Wolf a jazz musical garb, written big band arrangements for the Jazz Baltica Allstar Band and composed and arranged for the saxophone quartet Q4 or the string quartet Quartet Quinetique. But her true love is for her quintet MaxSax. Since the band released their debut album “MaxSax” in 2014 they have been swimming on a wave of success.
This high-energy entanglement of rock and jazz, which had never been heard before, made many wonder why nobody had come up with this idea sooner. ‘My favourite bands aren’t the Miles Davis Quintet or the Pat Metheny Group. I’m more into the Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age,’ says Tini Thomsen.
Three years later followed “The Long Ride”. Meanwhile, the alto saxophonist Nigel Hitchcock joined to make it a quintet and with the fresh forces of Tom Trapp on guitar, Mark Haanstra on bass and Satindra Kalpoe on drums the music of MaxSax no longer only came along with the brute-jumble-like elemental force of the debut, but (as the Jazz Podium stated) a subtle, slightly roughened funkyness, as known from Defunkt or the blessed Slickaphonics, had crept quietly into the music.
‘Since Nigel joined the band, I have the feeling that the band sounds really round and homogeneous. With a second saxophone we have more solo possibilities, more sound variables up our sleeve. Maybe that’s why the music sounds a bit better balanced now. The brute elements of the first record are still present, but are more evenly distributed in a broader sound’, adds Tini Thomsen.
Invitations to the Jazz Baltica or to the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam followed. The IB.-SH Jazz Award 2015 and the German Music Author Award 2016 (in the Jazz/Crossover category) are just two of the prestigious awards the musician has received for her work to date.
Now finally Shift, the third album of Tini Thomsen’s MaxSax. And of course the saxophonist and her band – how could it be any different with this album title – have turned a few screws to give the already very individual group sound a slightly different “spin”. The Bonnie and Clyde-like iconoclasm of the first two albums has given way to a more nuanced and well-tempered aesthetic on Shift, which, without depriving the music of its immense power, relies on strong contrasts.
There’s Big Boys, for example: a song flowing along like molasses, introduced by a quiet, unaccompanied ostinato sax figure, suddenly dumping into a rock monstrosity weighing tons and riff impregnated, which Led Zeppelin would have done justice to. Dissolving this monolithic blast into an atmospheric triologue of alto saxophone, baritone saxophone and bass, held together by flageolet notes, almost borders on genius. Tension and Release in Perfection!
Happy Segment Day would actually glide weightlessly and light as a feather if it weren’t for the bitchy-zappaesque barrages strewn in, which would cause the flow of the number to stumble violently.
Funk infected compositions like the epic King of Diamonds or the title song Shift are less influenced by Detroit than by Memphis and Muscle Shoals. Also a pinch of ‘Funkadelic’ runs schematically through the numbers.
Light and shade, volts and twists, fine dramaturgical details, the music on Shift is so full of moments of surprise and disparities that it almost borders on a miracle that it is consistently marked by a stupendous clarity and unmistakability.
Without a doubt, Tini Thomsen could have leaned back comfortably and simply transferred the successful concepts of the two predecessors to Shift. But the saxophonist would not have lived up to her own expectations if she had simply played her proven reed and thereby set her sights on creative standstill.
New to this album is that both Tom Trapp and Mark Haanstra have contributed compositions. The band members know how to combine the heavy grooves of the first album with the jazz harmonic elements of the second album and to give the baritone sax enough space to line up as usual without losing the position of the centre. Even more band sound with even more Bari than backbone.
Shift has become a courageous album, which not only scores with its wealth of ideas and imaginative compositions, but also presents a band with a highly original group sound, which has to be placed beyond any conventions.
Baritone sax player, composer and educator Katharina (Tini) Thomsen is building a strong following for her unique style of high-energy jazz-rock with her bands MaxSax and Q4 wowing audiences at festivals and venues across Europe.
The North German Radio Big Band (NDR) and Hessischer Rundfunk Bigband (HR) have recently recorded and broadcast her music.
Uphill Struggle her debut album with Q4 was released in 2018 and Shift, the third MaxSax album was released in the summer of 2019 and re- released in December 2019 with German Jazz Label Jazzhausrecords.
Tini recently conducted her Peter and the Wolf Project with the Swedish Norrbotten Big Band on an extensive tour.
Tini started playing the saxophone at the age of 13 after falling deeply in love with Tony Curtis in the movie Some Like It Hot.
She started on the tenor but after discovering she could go lower, switched to the baritone at the age of 15 and three years late, began playing in the Landesjugendjazzorchester Hamburg and the German Youth Jazz Orchestra.
After two years studying jazz at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg with Fiete Felsch, in 2003 she moved to Amsterdam to study with Ferdinand Povel. In 2005 an instrument with an even lower register, the bass clarinet, caught her attention, and she took the opportunity to study it as second main subject with Erik van Deuren until 2011. In 2008 she finished her degree (saxophone), and in 2011 she finished her masters degree in saxophone with distinction and with special note for composition which had become her third main focus.
Since her graduation in July 2011, she has been much sought after as a freelance musician, arranger and composer in Germany, The Netherlands, England and Sweden.
Tini has received several awards for her compositions;
2008: Metropole Orchestra arrangers/composers workshop with Vince Mendoza
2009: New Dutch arrangers contest, CD Recording
2010: Bujazzo composers contest, CD Recording
2016: GEMA Composers Award Jazz/Corssover
Since the 2017 release of ‘The Long Ride’ MaxSax have been performing consistently throughout Europe, including appearances at the prestigious Bimhuis club in Amsterdam, the North Sea Jazz Festival, and the ARD Hörspielfestival.This led to a guest TV interview on NDR’s ‘Das Rote Sofa’ in 2018.
In 2019 Tini arranged the music for a collaboration between the South African artist Lira, a South African Jazz ensemble and Nils Landgren, and still found time to perform with Jules Buckley and the Heritage Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in London for the BBC Proms, and in the band for Simon Cowell’s hit TV show X Factor.
She also writes for and conducts German Radio Bigbands, such as the NDR and HR Bigband.
She has also performed with: The Metropole Orchestra, Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Incognito, The Temptations, Ed Partyka Jazz Orchestra and the MTV Unplugged sessions with Cro.
She joined the great Dr John with a Dutch horn section for concerts at the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival and Jazz in Middelheim.