PARTY, Jo Beyer’s new album is released by BERTHOLD records on 6th September 2019. “Uncompromising fun,” is how Beyer sees his latest release in which he tantalises with a combination of soothing, catchy melody and complex, sometimes foolhardy improvisation. The band line up: Jo Beyer on drums, Roman Babik on piano, Sven Decker on tenor saxophone and Andreas Wahl on electric and acoustic guitar.
Beyer, born 1991 and now living in Cologne, studied jazz drumming at the Hochschule Osnabrück, Germany and the Royal Academy of Music Aarhus, Denmark. “I composed all the tracks,” he says “and brought the quartet together especially for this album. I’ve played in a lot of different groups and I wanted to have one band where I can express myself in a very communicative way on drums, can write the music and determine how it’s played, but also make important decisions regarding booking, PR and social media. My baby, my band JO”.
That makes for an interesting dynamic because the quartet’s guitarist Andreas Wahl happens to be the composer’s father. “My Dad used to play a lot of experimental and modern jazz, which I didn’t like when I was younger,” admits Beyer, who preferred listening to rock and punk music in his teens. “But when my father introduced me to the likes of Herbie Hancock, Jack de Johnette and Pat Metheny, my brain switched and I was hooked on the energy.”
Beyer’s mother also influenced his musical development. “She’s a doctor and photographer,” he explains, “really likes the music encouraged me to found this band and told me to focus on my passion, what I want to do, not just how to earn money. She influenced my Dad in this way as well. My mother kept her name and I kept hers, so people don’t necessarily know I’m playing with my Dad.”
Although Beyer is firmly in charge, he describes the band atmosphere as relaxed and co-operative. “I don’t have to tell them a lot. We have the same musical attitudes, together achieving my vision of playing my compositions with a lot of energy, but in an acoustic and improvisational context. It works well, really comfortable.”
Beyer’s track titles are mostly tangential to the actual music, based on “running gags or the moment when a piece was composed”:
Halloween ist Doof [Halloween is Stupid] “was composed on that day. I don’t like carnival and Halloween, I don’t understand it. Maybe I was just trying to reflect my mental attitude.”
Wart Ihr Schonmal Auf Einer Bobbahn? [Have you bob-sleighed?] “comes from someone asking me that in a fast, funny and senseless way. It was in my head when I composed the piece.”
Bei Rosa [At Rosa’s] “is a lovely story. Sven Decker, the saxophonist, is a good friend and lives close by. We went to a nearby Italian restaurant and met Rosa. She was young, pretty and cool. I was impressed and gave her my number… but she never called me back.”
Auf Jeder Jamsession Gibt Es Einen Tiger Bongo Latin Crasher [At every Jam Session there is a…] “refers to the sessions where you’re playing Jazz standards, then someone always ends up on stage with a conga and goes crazy with the percussion.”
Intrastory Hashtag Tourlife “is dedicated to the crazy world of instagramming, face-booking and hash-tagging.”
Beyer has won newcomer jazz awards such as the Europäischer Burghauser Jazzpreis 2015 and the Getxo International Jazz Competition 2017 with the group Malstrom. He has toured in Europe and Asia and played international festivals all over the world. Although Beyer says it is not his conscience intention, he plays with the emotions of his audiences, winding them up with highly-strung sounds and structures, then releasing the tension with soothing melody. With humour, high voltage and endless inventiveness, he teases and entertains, adding new dimensions to modern contemporary jazz.