Munich quartet Web Web announced WEB MAX, a new spiritual jazz album out August 27th via Compost Records. The full length is sometimes floating, sometimes soulful, always intense, and a wonderful homage to early 70s jazz. Web Web mastermind Roberto Di Gioia is accompanied for the first time by Max Herre as a composer, musician, and producer. The announcement comes with the first single “Akinuba / The Heart (ft. Yusef Lateef).”
In the winter of 2014, German rapper/producer Max Herre and Italian-German pianist Roberto Di Gioia played a tremendous show together. The two had been guest musicians at a few gigs for Gregory Porter, who in turn kindly accepted their invitation to perform at Herre's "MTV Unplugged" session (produced by Herre alongside Di Gioia and Samon Kawamura as production team KAHEDI). Porter's approach to the jazz quartet inspired Max to reflect how a rap artist could work in a more freely-flowing musical environment. Di Gioia's inspiration was a bit more straightforward: in the 80s, Di Gioia had played with jazz legends like
Woody Shaw, Johnny Griffin, and James Moody, but he’d largely left the jazz stages of his early years behind — just one random jam session with Porter's musicians during soundcheck relit his passion immensely. A short time later, Herre called Di Gioia saying “Let's get a spiritual jazz session going.”
Now, six years later, the album WEB MAX is the amazing result from the spur of that moment. It is a wonderful homage to the cosmic open-mindedness of early 70s jazz, to the transcendent sublimity of spiritual sound. WEB MAX is the fourth album in four years by the highly acclaimed Web Web quartet, consisting of keyboardist/pianist Roberto Di Gioia, saxophonist Tony Lakatos, bassist Christian von Kaphengst, and drummer Peter Gall, all of them longtime performers of the highest virtuosity, signed to Michael Reinboth's Compost Records.
The only words on the album belong to Yusef Lateef, the great saxophonist and flutist who passed away in 2013. On “Akinuba / The Heart,” in the form of a poem Lateef talks about "The Heart” along a repetitive bass line. "I was particularly impressed by his musical lyrics. And how close his music melts with the topics he is talking about," says Herre. The poem ends with the words "the heart is born pure.”
Herre's voice, on the other hand, can only be heard as an occasional whispering falsetto in cosmic spheres. His electronic "rustle“ (as he calls it) and the groovy, minimalist thrusts of his Wurlitzer may seem modest at first amid the other virtuoso instrumentalists.
However, it is precisely this simplicity that proves to be an integral piece. "Simplicity is sometimes the most sophisticated effort," explains Di Gioia. “And he has something special there that I don't have. Max plays like an indie guitarist who just hits that one note that makes people freak out.“ And Herre replies with a laugh: “I am a rhythm pianist. I actually just play a few repeating chords at a time, almost like a hip-hop sample.“
Herre's love for jazz goes back to his teenage years in Stuttgart, way back before his hip-hop career. And that too began around 1990, when jazz became a go-to for hip-hop groups like A Tribe Called Quest or Gang Starr. This influence carries from Herre‘s former group Freundeskreis, to his solo albums produced with Di Gioia, and finally all the way to WEB MAX.