Thursday, May 18th, 2017
Reviewer: Reg Webb

When people use the word ‘awesome’ to describe something, they usually mean, in these days of overworked superlatives, that they enjoyed it, it was very good . . .

In this instance, however, for me as a working musician, ‘awesome’ is about right.

I count myself fortunate that Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club was a stop on the trio's hectic tour, promoting their latest album The Chamber Music Effect (Unit Records).

Brothers Michael and Florian Arbenz (piano and drums), with Thomas Lähns (acoustic bass) have been playing together as VEIN for about 10 years; and that, especially if you're this good, has consequences.

Unless you follow the band from its beginnings to the present, their idea of what is ‘normal’ for them will evolve over time, while the listener falls ever further behind the impact that such gifted musicians have on one anothers' playing as time passes.

This is particularly evident in their versions of tunes they did not write. Their approach to the music of other composers seems to be moving ever more in the direction of paraphrase.


While most of what we heard was written by the brothers, with some notable contributions from Thomas, they played peices based on two movements from Ravel's Le Tombeau De Couperin - Prélude and Forlane - and Jimmy Van Heusen's Here's That Rainy Day. In all cases, that music formed the basis of what VEIN played (so don't go expecting to sing along).


A characteristic piece of VEINary is the tune they started with - Boarding The Beat by Florian Arbenz.

If you're a musician, it's easy to be impressed by this music rather than enjoy it; unless, that is, you settle back and stop trying to work it out.

I managed to persuade myself to relax and simply enjoy three fine soloists who manage to collaborate, even while soloing.


I hope they'll be back here next year. If so, I plan to be there to get awestruck all over again.