The Debut Album
It’s all about (the) time.
It’s all about (the) timing.
A mature feeling for time and how to use it in the right way, when to strike a note or a chord and – even more importantly – when to refrain from doing so. The usage of rests and space as a creative, dramatic element. All this is usually expected from top-level musicians, qualities that – and this seems to be the consensus – develop over the years and need a large amount of performance practise; in short: they are a result of “age”. But sometimes this does not happen. We all know the sayings: „feeling“ - you either have got it or you don’t; or: virtuoso but without any feeling; or: lots of feeling but technically rather inexperienced.
Considering his youthful age it might come as a surprise that Simon Oslender already combines all these qualities in his performance. This is raising questions: How is this possible at the age of 21? Is he a natural talent or an exceptional phenomenon? Or is he just an early bloomer?
As always, possible answers and attempted explanations are diverse. Talent is one part of it, hard work and perseverance another. Also the background of a musical family plays a role (his father is a drummer, his mother a singer). But most importantly – listening and listening again, over and over. Simon explored the world of colleagues such as Herbie Hancock, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Larry Goldings, Joey DeFrancesco, Richard Tee, Tom Canning, Ricky Peterson, George Duke – all of them masters of their trade, who combine technical perfection with - more importantly - soul and feeling, always aiming to serve nothing but the music. And then there is what we call groove – again something you either have or haven’t got. It is a matter of timing, too. Simon also studied with Frank Chastenier. The former WDR-Big-Band pianist became his mentor, a maestro who shares Simon’s passion for piano and organ. He is somebody who can go to extremes on the Hammond, tearing an excited audience from its seats one minute and delicately make the piano sing the next minute, carefully developing every chord, every phrase, and each melodic arch.
Much of his style of performance can also be detected in Simon’s own sound (we will only mention in passing that he performed together with the WDR Big Band aged only 15 and with the Metropole Orchestra even three years earlier). I became particularly aware of this when I experienced the Aachen-born musician, now living in Cologne, on stage for the first time at the Jazzbaltica festival in 2018. Drummer Wolfgang Haffner – a master of powerful yet simultaneously reduced, fluid performance – had invited the then 20-year-old musician to join his band for the grooving, yet incredibly relaxed project Kind of Spain. “We will still hear a lot from this man!” prophesised Haffner. “Already now he is performing incredibly well. With a matureness and calmness I never had at the age of 20! He is full of energy but also enjoys the calm bits just as much! A very special character indeed.”
Many may know him as the long-time partner of Dutch drummer Jerome Cardynaals in their duo Twogether (nowadays Oslender & Cardynaals) and as organist and keyboardist for the energetic soul/funk band Pimpy Panda. Now he has finalized his very own debut album. It’s about time.
The right people in the right place at the right time. Haffner opened some doors and recommended him to saxophonist Bill Evans who was looking for a keyboardist to join his band The Spy Killers on their Australia tour. Simon was just the musician he needed. Within no time the name Oslender gained more and more recognition throughout the scene. At the 25th anniversary party of JazzThing magazine in Cologne he accompanied Randy Brecker together with the Cologne Funkateers. Also part of the team were guitarist Bruno Müller,
bassist Claus Fischer and drummer Hendrik Smock.
They all celebrate Simon’s debut together with keyboardist and producer Ricky Peterson, vibraphonist Christopher Dell, guitarist Hanno Busch, percussionist Roland Peil and the vocalists Peter Fessler and Cosmo Klein. A brilliant debut at the right time. A large-scale, touching party between funk, jazz, fusion, soul, blues and pop.
- KARSTEN MÜTZELFELDT -
Produced by Simon Oslender, Ricky Peterson & Joachim Becker