Text & Photos: Uwe Bräutigam
Cologne, 13.06.2022 | The usual seating in the Cologne Loft is lifted, Reza Askari’s band Roar stands in the middle of the room and the audience*s form a circle around the band. This creates more closeness to the audience. Many acquaintances and friends of the band are present.
The busy bass player Reza Askari, who just a few days ago performed at the Moers Festival, is visibly happy to perform at the Loft and present music from his new album. “Isn’t it fantastic that there is a place like this. Playing here is always a special pleasure and also a home game.”
The evening’s music will consist entirely of tracks from the new album Roar feat. Christopher Dell. It is the band’s third album, which will be released in late June on CD and also as a vinyl record. The two previous albums were recorded here at the Loft in Cologne. The concert in the Loft is also the prelude to a small tour, which will still lead to Bad Hersfeld and Dresden.
The Trio Roar consists of three excellent musicians of the Cologne scene, all of them soloists, much sought-after sidemen and also composers. Stefan Karl Schmid on saxophone and clarinet, Fabian Arends on drums and Reza Askari on double bass. But now the trio has been expanded to a quartet for the new album. The renowned vibraphonist Christopher Dell now enriches the band. In the radio interview on Radio 674fm Reza emphasizes that a vibraphone expands the sound spectrum and that he likes the instrument very much, but above all it was about bringing a special musical personality to the band with Christopher Dell.
During the first piece, the audience still has to get used to the music. From the second piece on, everyone can get completely involved in the music and an exciting concert evening takes its course in the Loft. The pieces have cryptic titles that have no direct word meaning like Doolz, Nessogenic Psymass or Maining Part I and II. Whereas Reza shares on the latter title that it is dedicated to the pianist Felix Hauptmann, whom he holds in high esteem as a musician. The music is multi-layered, from more melodic pieces like Nessogenic Psymass to the more abstract tracks like Guts. As a bass player, Reza Askari doesn’t put himself in the foreground. He plays the one or other exciting solo, like the intro to Maining Part I, but obviously the sound of the band is more important to him than soloistic playing. Nevertheless, the outstanding saxophone and clarinet playing of Stefan Karl Schmid or the virtuosic to artistic playing of Christopher Dell on the vibraphone must of course be mentioned. I especially liked Fabian Arends, whom I have experienced at many concerts over the years. He, too, does not push to the fore, but drives the music forward and, when the sound demands it, sets powerful impulses. In this band, four outstanding musicians have simply come together, who also have a decisive influence on the music, from the creation process to the performance practice.
The audience is challenged, it is not served immediately catchy music, but who gets involved in the music, gets many beautiful moments. Music that opens up more and more the deeper you go into it. A flow of tones that forms a sound from which a special mood and atmosphere unfolds. Thus the audience in the Loft is also addressed and touched by the music. And as an encore there is then the piece FCK TH SHT ND MK MSC, a title that quickly opens up at least from the word meaning. Not only the concert of Roar feat. Christopher Dell in the Loft ends with this piece, but also the new album. The musicians, and especially Reza Askari, have the joy written all over their faces that the music worked so well at the first gig. It is, after all, the first concert in which the music from the album Roar feat. Christopher Dell, is presented to the audience.