The New Cool: Julia Kadel brings her inventive spirit to the piano | KNKX

The New Cool: Julia Kadel brings her inventive spirit to the piano

Jan 17, 2020

Pianist Julia Kadel is outgrowing one of the great cities of Europe. The young jazz star from Berlin is the first German artist to record for the legendary Blue Note Records since pianist Jutta Hipp in 1956. Her classical music roots mixed with daring improvisation are making her a budding international star.

Kadel has a drive to create, and a confidence that allows her to create on the spot. Live performances with her well-established trio are often improvised from the first note, skipping up and down the piano with compositional sections emerging gradually.

As to the risks taken in this open setting, Kadel finds this loose improvisation "may well be the safest music we can play. There is always an uncertainty factor, but we need that to feel free. Only then can we produce something truly authentic."

The new album from Kadel's trio, Kaskadan, has the sound of live improvisation in the studio. It's a thrilling listen, but also a challenging one. At once daring and delicate, the atmosphere makes me think Kadel's pre-musician studies in psychology may have some strange influence here.

On her albums for Blue Note, 2014's In Vertrauen and 2016's Über unt Unter, Kadel sounds more atuned to the classical music that filled her earliest piano experiences. Melodies dart and dash like spiders on a hot web, crystaline high notes are undergirded by heavy left hand chords.

Kadel's music can be bouncy and joyful, erie and somber, exploring the vast spaces between. Of working with bassist Karl-Erik Enkelmann and drummer Steffen Roth, Kadel says "we are constantly searching for magic in music. That means first of all that you have to let go and listen to yourself playing. If I try to control the course that the music takes, it definitely will not work. I have learnt to accept that whatever happens is good."

Listen for Julia Kadel's trio playing "Held" from the Über unt Unter album on The New Cool this week, I'm betting you'll agree. Julia Kadel ist sehr gut.

The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.