Petit Standard is not a celebration of things small and dainty. Rather, it is an experiment in reducing, in laying bare. Fronted by the Croatian vocalist Vesna Pisarović, and driven by the rhythmical and harmonic pulse of two celebrated American musicians, John Betsch and Joe Fonda, this group, at its base, sets to explore the very scope and limits of the minimal combo form: the trio. The result is a creative union of idiosyncrasies and contrasts: with Vesna Pisarović’s subtle play with phrasing and language in her vocal expression being confronted, and complemented by, the turbulent angularity and the raw pacing of Joe Fonda’s bass, as well as the elegant, yet complex swing of John Betsch’s drumming. Joined on this album partly by Gebhard Ullmann into a piano-less quartet, with such a setting, nevertheless, still opening an entire wealth of opportunities for experimentation: through a constant subversion of the expected roles of the accompaniment and the lead, through a playfulness in the exploration of textures and timbres, through the shifting between disparate musical scenarios, where recognizable tunes, “standards”, find entirely new meanings. The musical hypothesis, in short, to be tested here is precisely the following: how can a minimization of form explode the maximum of expressive possibilities?
Vesna Pisarović was immersed in music from an early age: through formal education in flute, through youthful experiments in punk-rock, through a rigorous study of vocal techniques, and, even more distantly, through a degree in phonetics and linguistics at the University of Zagreb. And yet her route to jazz and improvised music seems quite circuitous. At the age of twenty, Vesna embarked on a path of stardom in the popular music industry in Croatia, releasing five commercial albums which reached golden or platinum sales, performing uncountable concerts, appearing in numerous live broadcasts. Vesna even competed at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2002. However, an encounter with the music of the free jazz artist Peter Brötzmann in a Berlin club would turn this experience around. Enchanted by such intensity and expressive freedom, Vesna decided to devote herself to the study of jazz, enrolling at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague and earning a Master’s degree in musical performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. In 2012 she released her debut jazz album With Suspicious Minds for the well-known German label Jazzwerkstatt. She currently resides in Berlin where she performs with many renowned musicians such as Greg Cohen, Tony Buck, Chris Abrahams, Zeno de Rossi, Chris Dahlgren, John Betsch, Gerhard Gschlößl, Steve Heather, Clayton Thomas, Dieb 13, Martin Sasse, Frederick Köster, Francesco Bigoni and many others.
was for almost a decade a renowned singer of popular music in Croatia and other countries of the former Yugoslavia. Since a dramatic turn in her professional career, and a change towards the jazz idiom she has collaborated with many artists, including Greg Cohen, Tony Buck, Chris Abrahams, Gerhard Gschlößl, Zeno de Rossi, Dieb 13, Martin Sasse, Wolfgang Schmidtke, Frederick Köster, Matija Dedić, Clayton Thomas, Steve Heather, Jan Roder and many others. She currently lives and works in Berlin.
is a celebrated American drummer noted for his collaborations with major voices in free jazz and the avant-garde of the seventies, eighties and nineties, including Steve Lacy, Mal Waldron, Max Roach, Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre, Dewey Redman, Jim Pepper, Archie Shepp, Henry Threadgill, Marilyn Crispell, Abdullah Ibrahim, Marion Brown, David Murray, Don Byron, Jeanne Lee and Billy Bang, to name only some. As a frontman, he headed the John Betsch Society and the John Betsch Trio.
is a renowned American double bassist who, alongside his own ensembles, performed and collaborated with artists such as Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, Ken Lou Donaldson, Bill and Kenny Barron, Leo Smith, Perry Robinson, Dave Douglas, Curtis Fuller, Bill Dixon, Han Bennink, Bobby Naughton, Xu Fengia, Randy Weston, Carla Bley, Carlo Zingaro, Barry Altschul, Billy Bang, to name only some.
is one of the leading voices of Berlin’s free-jazz scene, celebrated regularly in Downbeat Critics’ Polls, with albums as leader released on labels such as Blacksaint/Soul Note, Leo Records, Clean Feed and Jazzwerkstatt. His long list of collaborations includes work with Ellery Eskelin, Tony Malaby, Steve Swell, Julian Argüelles, Han Bennink and George Schuller, Barry Altschul, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang, Satoko Fujii, Paul Bley, Keith Tippett, William Parker, Bobby Previte, Lauren Newton, Andrew Cyrille, Sylvie Courvoisier, Willem Breuker, Tom Rainey and many others.
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