Jazzbuzz (Greece)

Mark Lotz, “Freshta”

December 18, 2023

I have been following the career of German flutist Mark Lotz for over twenty years, and with almost every work he has something new to offer. A characteristic that is only not unrelated to the fact that he has lived in Africa, Asia, America and various European countries, with the Netherlands having become his permanent home for decades. Naturally, the culture and sounds of each place where he has lived feed into his music, resulting in his occasional focus on various genres, but always through the aesthetics of jazz and improvisation.

His new CD “Freshta” (ZenneZ records) takes its title from Freshta Kohistani, an activist from Afghanistan who was assassinated in Kabul in 2020. But each of the album’s 11 compositions is also named after a female activist from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Africa and Latin America. “In times of war, populism and social unrest, as an artist I want to deal with social issues,” Lotz says. “For me, music connects people and conveys a message of freedom and love.”

As usual Lotz uses several types of flutes, while his backing group includes Claudio Puntin (clarinet, bass clarinet), Jeroen van Vliet (piano, electronics), Jörg Brinkmann (cello, electronics) and Dirk-Peter Kölsch (drums). The combination of flute with clarinet, piano and cello makes a hint towards chamber music in itself, which is confirmed several times by the careful arrangements and the variety of subtle timbres. At the same time, however, Lotz’s improvisational prowess, Kölsch’s rhythmic work, and the fact that Brinkmann very often plays pizzicato and takes the role of bassist, give the sound energy and a willingness to experiment.

And although the lives of the women to whom the songs are dedicated were or are full of difficulties and some of them were violently interrupted, Lotz’s music does not represent them sonically creating a gloomy atmosphere, but rather tries to bring out their vitality and their longing for a better life. Also very successful is the way he creates the appropriate backdrop for each of the female portraits he paints, borrowing timbres from Africa (Wangari), India (Durga’s Lalit), Mexico (“Isabel”), Iran (“Nasrin”) and so on.

Deeply human approach, beautiful compositions with elegances like “Frouzan” and strong playing in another very good album by the flutist.