‘Peace Of Mind’ is the latest album from rising jazz star, German keyboardist-composer SIMON OSLENDER. And, despite his youth (Simon’s just 24), such is his standing on the European jazz circuit that he can successfully call on some big names to help him deliver his musical ideas. Core sidemen on ‘Peace Of Mind’ include bassist Will Lee (an alumnus of seminal fusion band Dreams and sometime member of the Brecker Brothers Band) and acclaimed German jazz drummer Wolfgang Haffner. Some of the tracks feature input from percussionist Roland Peil and a horn section of flugelhornist Ruud Breuls, flutist-clarinetist Oliver Leicht and trombonist Günter Bollmann,
Oslender cites people like Joe Sample, Herbie Hancock, Richard Tee and George Duke as major influences on his musical development. Listening to the 12 tracker that is ‘Peace Of Mind’ (his follow up to 2020’s ‘About Time’) you can hear flavours of all those luminaries… and more too, maybe Dave Grusin and even post Chess era Ramsey Lewis. Across the album Oslender displays his mastery of the acoustic piano, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes electric piano and his signature Yamaha Montage Synthesizer… on a couple of the tracks he even contributes wordless vocals.
One of those “vocal” tracks,‘When She Speaks’, is a light, breezy, Latin-flavoured outing which is dedicated to one of the keyboardist’s heroes, the late guitarist Chuck Loeb while the mournful closing track, ‘Blue Mike’ offers up another dedication, this time to Michael Brecker. Oslender says that through his music the sax man (who died in 2007) taught him “to love space and tranquility in music. No matter whether you’re playing a ballad, or an up-tempo bebop tune it all has to be rooted in a certain calmness to feel good; to really speak through music you need to actually mean every note you play. It needs to be honest and come right from your heart. In music it’s all about soul, feel and honesty”. On ‘Blue Mike’ and indeed right through the album, you can experience that “soul, feel and honesty”. Try the gentle, haunting ‘Sleep In Peace’, the up-beat ‘Shining Bright’ or the optimistic ‘Hymn’ (the second of the “vocals”) to hear what I mean.
Simon Oslender: “Peace of Mind” is out now via Leopard Records