Music German band Thärichens Tentett's music is an eclectic potpourri of sound and symphony
It's difficult to categorise the music of German group Thärichens Tentett. On first glance, it's easy to write them off as just another chamber music group – they've got the seductive keel of the alto and soprano saxophones, the guttural bass of the trombone, the poetry of the flute. But then you catch the edgy drum solo reminiscent of John Bonham's Moby Dick and the furious licks of the electric guitar, and you're not quite sure.
Performing at Hotel Taj Deccan in Hyderabad, Thärichens Tentett is touring India, courtesy the Goethe-Zentrum Institute and Alliance Française. This ten-man group from Germany call themselves a jazz band, although they're that and much more. “Our music is composed on poems,” explains front man Nicolai Thärichen, who also composes the music. “We call it jazz, but it depends really…our music can be rough, witty and dirty, or lyrical like a ballad. We don't stop halfway – it's a wide range of music.”
The band formed ten years ago and recently launched their fourth album Farewell Songs. “It's many kinds of farewells,” says Nicolai. The album includes the song Farewell Suite, written for his father who passed away last year. The song ties together solos by different instruments against the heady flow of the piano in an eclectic tribute to grief and introspection. Another number is an unusual cover of AC/DC's Up To My Neck In You, with a fantastic saxophone swing coupled with Michael Schiefel's rather incongruous vocals, which don't quite pan with the rest of the music.
Based in Berlin, Nicolai said that he was called crazy to have a ten-member band. “I agree it's difficult because it's hard to sell and it's very expensive to tour, but I imagined my music this way,” he says. “I wanted all the wind instruments and the piano, and I wanted the guitars to add a Jimi Hendrix-ian aggression. Now I'm glad I didn't compromise.”
Watching the band perform is an experience in itself: ten dapperly-dressed men bearing their shiny instruments and seamlessly weaving together a frenzy of sound. There's also something very charming about the way the other members quickly shuffle to the side when one of them is performing a solo, to ensure that all attention is on the performer.
Nicolai claims that the biggest challenge was ensuring that audiences could hear ten personalities on stage tying up together. “I had to make sure that I gave the band enough opportunities, I even had to write to their parents to keep them!” says Nicolai. “We brought in our heart, soul, blood and breath. I think it worked.”