If you‘ve ever been to a children‘s playground long enough to observe, one will most certainly declare: Life‘s no bed of roses–but wouldn‘t it be fun if every once in a while we‘d just pretended? Who said anyway that it has to be either the swing boat or the rocking horse on springs? Well, this company of players squiring Viennese Jazz singer and Saxophonist Lisa Prandstätter didn‘t think twice about that for their debut record PLAYGROUND CONVENTION and celebrates some highly dynamic "rumble on the roundabout" for the mindful listener.
Together with her six-men strong band and guest percussionist Ingrid Oberkanins, Lisa Prandstätter experiments and dashes through the genres on this hour-long album. Latin Jazz meets Jazz Standard, a rhythmic vocal solo is taking on a blustering eight-member groove ensemble, just as the old-school swing tune buddies up with the heavily re-arranged 60ies hit single. Styles and speeds rotate as often as instruments and orchestration.
What may at first sound like the usual sand pit mayhem is in actual fact the golden thread that stitches Playground Convention together. Just think of the track list in terms of lineups instead of numbers, meaning 1 is the solo, 2 the duet, 3 a trio – but don‘t expect the expectable, yet. It doesn‘t necessarily mean if you add an instrument every track, the whole record will turn into one hour-long crescendo all the way from first to last.
The septet In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning is gentleness par excellence and a beautiful example of how subtle nuances in sound emerge where seven musicians listen to each other while playing. In stark contrast there‘s the trio Ha Génte Aqui with just piano, drums and vocals. Lisa Prandstätter is taking us on a ten-minute "tour de virtuosité" making the already unearthly original by Maria João and Mario Lághina truly her own by caving into the ever-grinding urge of free improvisation. Yes, the record has its moments where it just goes big: for instance with the octets Cai Dentro and the following track Alone Together, both oozing groove and momentum.
It should come as no surprise to the listener that the record‘s acoustic setting is constantly altering–it‘s sort of predetermined by concept. But one simply can‘t prepare for a 5/4 take on Paul Simon’s Sound of Silence breezing in halfway through. It‘s her intuition for musical dynamics with which Lisa Prandstätter seems to be blessed especially when arranging, taking away the intricacy of the odd meter leaving us with the most refined ear candy. Tune by tune, lineup by lineup Lisa Prandstätter guides, carries and sometimes even pushes and shoves the listener over the numerous fields of Playground Convention, an impressive and also quite self-confident first album. What ultimately holds the record together is her chesty, seductive voice. This trained vocalist just knows when to sound mellow or go full-on ferocious. Together with the constant display of versatility Prandstätter and the album itself manage to overcome even Jazz‘ one pesky compulsion–to always hide its systematics–with a winsome smirk.
About: Lisa Prandstätter, born 1984, is a Jazz singer and instrumentalist on alto and tenor saxophone and flute. She‘s affiliated with various ensembles in and around her hometown, Vienna. Playground Convention came about during her Master of Arts finals at the City of Vienna University. It‘s her first record.