A guitar trio led by its drummer is a rare affair. Christian Krischkowsky, who made his debut on Double Moon Records in 2005 with a quintet and the album "TS Bremen", loves something like this. A later album in quartet line-up was nominated for the German Record Critics' Award in 2016. It was almost logical that he would now form a trio. He is supported by guitarist Andreas Dombert, who also made his debut with "Urban Jazz" on Double Moon and who has played a lot from hard (tank ballet) to delicate (duo with Chris Gall), and bassist Axel Kühn, who also has his own trio as well as his Kühnett, with earthy yet subtle melodies. "I like this hard guitar trio sound," Krischkowsky admitted. "I like Axel's rhythmically clear playing, and he's also very open-minded. And I liked Andreas' trio because he combines so many elements in his playing, and he is also insanely virtuoso." Together, the three are the Openthebox Trio, and you can probably guess which box will be opened when you look at the song titles.
"Franz-Josef-Land" and "Helmut" suggest an intensive occupation with the 1980 Bundestag election campaign, when Franz-Josef Strauss and Helmut Schmidt competed against each other, but the songs’ titles come from something completely different. "Franz-Josef-Land" is a group of islands in the Arctic Ocean, and "Helmut" refers to Helmut Dietl. Krischkowsky, who was born in Munich, honors the unfortunately long-dead master director and especially his television series "Monaco Franze" beyond measure. "The first sound interval in my piece actually refers to the theme song of 'Monaco Franze'," Krischkowsky grinned. "I think that whoever knows the melody will notice that too." On the other hand, you really suspect that the song "Please, Hold the Line, Thelonious!” certainly refers to jazz legend Thelonious Monk. By the way, Krischkowsky composed all nine songs on the album. "I was on hold in a telephone queue and had to press some keys just to cancel the whole process," Krischkowsky said. "I think that it is a sign of our times that you often don’t have a contact person, and I imagined how Thelonious Monk would have reacted to such an imposition; he probably would have hung up." On this and three other songs, "Bird on a Cherry Tree", "Strange Night in Paris" and the title track, the trio becomes a quartet when British keyboardist Kit Downes, an "ECM recording artist", steps in on the Hammond organ. Not only on "Please, Hold the Line, Thelonious!", the last song of "Unperfect Buildings", it becomes clear that the Openthebox Trio feels connected to jazz tradition, but of course also wants to conquer new musical worlds. The organic soundscapes of the gang of three and four feel well-known yet new. Krischkowsky's diverse rhythms combine in the most beautiful way with Dombert's guitar sounds, which he created completely without effect devices, and the subtle bass lines of Kühn. Downes adds an additional atmospheric flair with his strange organ sounds, which have nothing to do with the traditional soul jazz organ of Jimmy Smith or Jimmy McGriff. And sometimes the trio, which sees itself mainly as a chamber music ensemble, also sounds angular and idiosyncratic.