JAZZPODIUM 9/2014: “Andreas Brunn is a dedicated guitarist and composer, an active mediatorial and reconciler and particularly fond of the East, nota bene Bulgaria. (…) “Perpetuum five” comes as electrified post-bop, grippy, squared, edged, angry, mad, jazzy. Karparov and Brunn are lively and striking. And there is the uncomfortable “Magic Friday” or the title track, in which Karparovs tendency to occasional lyricism and Brunns occasional “circuit-with-funny outbursts” provide the contrast that generates voltage and excitement.
Or view the “East Side Gallery”’s story as the story of a quartet who, without doubt, would be able to find a comfortable place for themselves in the world, but instead they use the burden of time and the historical workup and responsibly turn it into harmless music that otherwise must have been uncomfortable to make. And it is just then that they are at their best. And on the double bass, George Donchev still plays exactly the bittersweet mix of boundless joy and all what lurks just beneath that joy.” Alexander Schmitz
JAZZ Thing 2014 / Issue 106: “Those who can count have a clear advantage, and being able to do fractions does not hurt either. 5/8, 7/8 & 13/16 are some of the rhythmic fabrics that together form the outfit of the multicultural Berlin-based quartet FOR FREE HANDS on its new CD “Kaleidoscope Freedom”, and it teems with surprising twists and turns, pitfalls and tricky cliffs.
Biographical references also play a central role, like the openness of the many facets with which they encounter the former city wall. But biography and identity are not all that matter, rather the self-evident certainty with which the quartet drives the various facets of electrified jazz and charges of energy – and also, crucial is the exuberant joy of playing.” Stephan Hentz
Christian Erber NDR: “ … Europe is growing together and a quartet from Berlin provides the soundtrack. FOR FREE HANDS combine modern jazz arrangements with traditional sounds and rhythms of the Balkans.”
Gaildorfer Rundschau, 01.04.2014 “… Specialist in infernal rythyms – effusively, intoxicating– that´s how the quartet “For Free Hands” presented themselves. Compositions from their new studio-album „Kaleidoscope Freedom“ surprised the audience. The polymetric concepts produced an unusual tension in the music. When in “Magic Friday” guitar- and saxophone cadences mixed over a 13/16 beat, the musicians took to it like ducks to water. “For Free Hands” left the audience flabbergasted. …”
Westfälische Zeitung 2013: “ … The ensemble FOR FREE HANDS to the known strings virtuoso and composer Andreas Brunn offered the enthusiastic audience with his energetic way of playing a best example of contemporary jazz. In a true “Kaleidoscope Freedom” , the quartet showed his view of the world , published sounded picturesque images of haunting beauty . … “
Braunschweiger Zeitung 2012: “ … Is For Free Hands , a programmatic name? Approximately unrestricted freedom of musical expression? Well, the music it brings to light. For example, “ Perpetuum 5” . Slow onset , stepping up the pace. Very fast chord changes , in any quarter time , if not on the eighth . Andreas Brunn ‘s guitar solo : In the best John Scofield style , liquid melody lines and rapid chord changes merged . … “
“ … A NEW WAY TO UNDERSTAND JAZZ … Synergy – the best word to describe this Berlin-based quartet. The red light of Echegaray’s theatre gave it a private feel and these geniuses did the rest. The audience were enraptured with the quartet’s musical interpretations which, both big and small, livened up the evening.
The music of For Free Hands belongs to contemporary jazz. Honestly, the melodies we heard were totally new and different from classical jazz. Even more than that, the band felt close to you, which made the concert even more enjoyable. You could experience this great atmosphere between sips and a chat with the person sitting next to you.
The beginning might seem shrill to the untrained ear but it soon changed into a sweet melody which mixed rhythms, and even more impressively, different instruments, which were played spectacularly by these specialists. The hypnotic quartet drew in everyone who happened upon their sound, uniting cultures as they went. Between pauses and straight eighths, it was great music.“ Javier Martínez
Portrait of Andreas Brunn in Jazzpodium
“..Andreas Brunn as both motor and nerve-center is a restless musician who crosses between avant-garde jazz, Balkan folk, rock, pop and classical technique. Usually he plays on his seven-string, but also occasionally on electric guitar in order to handle all ethnic and stylistic influences.
The Balkans are omnipresent and hold a fascinating jazz-affinity. And there you can find the key to For Free Hands’ music: Brunn and the band try to plumb the depths of the roots of European and free jazz. And they do it.” Alexander Schmitz, 01/2009
THE FABULOUS FOUR IN BALKAN FEVER
The title of the new For Free Hands album is “Transversal” which means “across the mainstream”. For Free Hands is one of the most successful “East-meets-West jazz projects” to be found in Germany. The mastermind behind it all: Berlin guitarist Andreas Brunn, who has gathered together an international tribe of musicians who share his idea of mixing different music styles. The other band members are New Yorker Jonathan Robinson (double bass), the Bulgarian Vladimir Karparov (soprano and tenor saxophone) and the Greece’s Dimitris Christides (percussion and drums).
A 13/16 beat, as in the track “Magic Friday”, is no problem for Christides. Jonathan Robinson is convincing and confident with his cautious but concise bass sound. The exeptionally gifted saxophonist Karparov understands and masters the traditional and eastern rhythms of his origin, which are combined with the most innovative jazz techniques. Band leader Andreas Brunn, playing his seven string acoustic guitar and his e-guitar by turns, constantly reminds you of the music of John McLaughlin. Both his guitar-play and talent in creating compositions are enigmatic, intelligent and full of experience. “Wizards´cube” is a unique piece of jazz fusion.
Kieler Nachrichten 08.12.2009
FOR FREE HANDS
Four nations, no borders!
Dinslaken (RP): In Berlin, those who play together, stay together. With “For Free Hands” the audience experiences a truly international quartet, that provides a good reason as to why Balkan-folk and free improvisation should merge.
“For Free Hands” combines captivating and intricate improvisation with folklore, working with rock, pop and classical music, cherrypicking from the avant-garde. They look to the future with all the consciousness of their traditional roots. At a glance, you have European and contemporary jazz, that is full of complex rhythms and astonishing grooves that those on stage play with unbridled joy.
From dialogues to duels – It is clear that Bulgarian saxophonist Vladimir Karparov has the inspiration that brings the spirit of the Balkans to life, with his alternative, high energy tenor and soprano playing. His sets are intense and usually fast-paced. The American Jonathan Robinson has commended him on his smooth bow and nimble fingers on the contrabass. The young Greek drummer Dimitris Christides, who played for many years in London, contributes with a surprising sound, a great counter-argument to the saxophone. Seemingly easygoing, he concentrates on the truth, building a foundation for a dialogue that occasionally springs up with duelling ferocity.
In the second set we see “For Free Hands” from a totally different perspective. Andreas Brunn arrives with the e-guitar and adds a sweet element to the mix. In “Perpetuum 5″, Brunn and Christides play a minute-long and dynamic “solo for two”.A band that changes rhythm and tempo again and again, that dares to experiment, gathering the principles of jazz together with elements of melodic pop for a meeting that results in musical joy.
The audience love it and burst into rapturous applause, they can hardly believe that with “Bottomless Box”, they have already reached the end of their evening of jazz. And with this, the musicians show us what it’s all about: a markedly open style of jazz, with different colors and more complex rhythms, full of emotion and passionate intensity. Four musicians from four different nations that take to the stage, remove all barriers, and call for the freedom of the world with their instruments. Four musicians, no borders!
(Rheinpresse 21.02.2011, Ralf Schreiner)