Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr’s ‘Landed in Brooklyn’ hits jazz hard
Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr

German brothers Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr show the action-packed nature of Brooklyn through hard-hitting, horn-and-piano entanglements. Their new album, Landed in Brooklyn, comes out in the U.S. March 17, and features established musicians, like Grammy-winning Blackstar tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who is all over this nine-track extravaganza, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and Kneebody drummer Nate Wood.

Julian plays trumpet and flugelhorn, while Roman goes off on piano, marimba, and seaboard.

The two received the break of a lifetime when Siegfried “Siggi” Loch, founder of the independent German jazz label ACT, gave the brothers their first shot at 17 and 20.

The Wasserfuhrs’ 2006 debut album Remember Chet, from ACT’s “Young German Jazz” series, opened the door to three more recordings, each more adventurous, original, and conceptual than the last.

For their fifth album, the Wasserfuhr brothers go deep into the conceptual to depict the Brooklyn they know and love — with the inspiring nudge of Loch.

“When Siggi Loch called us up last year, and asked if we were interested in making another album for the ACT label, naturally we agreed — but we also admitted that we hadn’t really given it much thought, and we certainly didn’t have a unifying concept,” the brothers explained in the liner notes. “So it was our good fortune when he threw a suggestion into the discussion: we should head off for New York, be inspired by the magic of the city, and of course, by all the jazz to be found there. Plans started to fall into place quite swiftly. The bedrock of our studio band would be Tim Lefebvre on bass and Nate Wood on drums, both of whom agreed straight away to get involved. But the cherry on this particular cake was the opportunity to draft in Donny McCaslin.”

Two of the tracks (Sting’s “Seven Days” and Tokio Hotel’s “Durch den Monsun”) are covers, the rest, including the bonus, “First Rays of Dawn,” are all Wasserfuhr originals.

The tracks themselves veer between the approach of the dramatic (“Bernie’s Tune”) and the loosening of the reins in a festive dance (“Ella”). Every tune is enormously tuneful, swinging from one glance to another.

Almost every note, every line is punctuated at some point by the period or exclamation of a horn or a bass-shadowed piano.

“Tinderly” has an easy, swinging big band groove that relies heavily on Julian Wasserfuhr’s tAttach Wayinrumpet to string the lines together, and McCaslin’s saxophone to soar. McCaslin doesn’t let the brothers down, moving smoothly, suavely up and down the court — seemingly without losing his breath, dropping his trademark muscular punches for the lyrical whole.

“Tutto” also sounds vaguely familiar, a cross between an soulful, Motown favorite and an almost ominous but dreamy approach of be bop blues. The piano and horn (props to the lyrical and deadly trumpeter in Julian) play the primary melodic parts, as the bass and drums follow the same gritty, street vibe of players on the prowl for a good time. It sounds like the song took five minutes to write itself.

Roman Wasserfuhr distinguishes the soulful, bluesy romp with his uplifting, Charleston style gospel piano solo that floats and flows.