THE CHECK IN
D 77093 (CD) - D 78093 (LP)
Alongside Wolfgang Haffner, The Kiel-born Jost Nickel is one of the very few top German tour & session drummers whose name also enjoys an excellent international reputation.
After lessons with Udo Dahmen in Hamburg and with Zach Danziger at the Drummer's Collective in New York, Jost Nickel's star began to shine brightly 25 years ago as the drummer of the jazz-grunge band Matalex. He recorded three albums with the innovative quartet and made guest appearances with this band at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague and the Montreux Jazz Festival, among others. He has also worked with many jazz greats such as Barry Finnerty (Miles Davis, The Crusaders), Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets, WDR Big Band), Mitch Forman (John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter), Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets, Allan Holdsworth) and Jeff Lorber live and in the studio.
He succeeded as drummer and musical director in the band of Mousse T and played with Sasha, Johannes Oerding, Marla Glen and SEEED, among others. Since 2006, Jost Nickel has been the drummer for Disko No.1, the band of German soul superstar Jan Delay.
And if all these jobs alone weren't enough to fill an impressive artistic resume to bursting, Jost Nickel is also very happy to pass on his knowledge to interested young musicians as a teacher and lecturer at the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg and the Hamburg School of Music. His three textbooks Jost Nickels GROOVEBOOK, Jost Nickels SNAREBOOK and Jost Nickels FILLBOOK have been included by the American journal Modern Drummer Magazine in its highly regarded list of the best teaching materials.
It is therefore understandable that due to all this activity there was hardly any time for serious solo ambitions. Involuntarily slowed down by the corona-induced standstill of the cultural scene, Jost Nickel has used the time wisely and finally written and recorded his debut album The Check In, which has been eagerly awaited by many.
I have deliberately decided to write and record my debut album with musicians with whom I have a common past and who, like myself, are not only in a musical genre on the road, but feel equally at home in both jazz and pop, outlines Jost Nickel the basic creative idea of the album.
So of course some colleagues of Disko No.1, like Jörg Sander (g), Johnny Johnson (tb), Philipp Kacza (tr) and Ali Busse (bs) have been involved in The Check In, but also highly appreciated companions of Jost Nickel, like Claus Fischer (bs), Hanno Busch (g), Simon Oslender (keys), Lutz Krajenski (arr.), Mark Smith (bs) and Dirk Berger (g).
Together with the latter two, Jost Nickel wrote five of the album's eight tracks at his own Shedroom Studio in Hamburg.
When I started thinking about the album, I had a rough idea of the atmosphere that the music on the album should convey, but no concrete compositional ideas yet. That's why I met with Dirk and Mark a few times in my studio and we just jammed away. It was a lot of fun and the results of our sessions were great. Afterwards, of course, I gave the music new structures and forms and a lot was also re-recorded, but basically you can say that from these jams I Understand, Bloon, Silk, The Space and No Rush were created, outlines Jost Nickel the genesis of no less than five numbers of The Check In.
Cookies and the title track of the album were actually written by the drummer together with Ali Busse and Markus Bak for a planned instrumental album by Disko No.1, which was ultimately not realized.
It in no way detracts from the great musical contributions of all those already mentioned when Jost Nickel lets it slip that he is understandably immensely proud of the friendship services of his top-class American guests Jimmy Haslip (bs), Barry Finnerty (g) and Jeff Lorber (keys) on The Check In.
Jimmy and I met a few years ago during a production by Bremen composer MSM Schmidt. Some time later Jimmy came to Germany with Jeff Lorber for a tour and they were still missing a drummer. Luckily Jimmy remembered me and recommended me to Jeff. The tour went well, so I thought I'd ask them if they'd like to play on my album. Fortunately, they had both, says Jost Nickel happily.
With the album's premium lineup, one might hastily assume that The Check In is perhaps an album developed on the drawing board. But those fears immediately vanish into thin air after just a few bars of the opener, I Understand.
Music of a timeless quality can be heard here throughout, which, equipped with compositional finesse, gripping hooklines and stirring grooves, prances on the fine demarcation line between jazz and pop with an astonishingly playful ease and surefootedness that should give true listening pleasure not only to die-hard friends of the genre. Stupendous, how the casual elegance of the tracks always makes you think of Steely Dan and also the memorable melodies sometimes remind of the elaborate lines of the duo Becker / Fagen.
Speaking of Steely Dan: Not only Steve Gadd can make a drum solo an integral part of a composition - to be heard on the Dan milestone Aja -, also Jost Nickel takes this demanding hurdle effortlessly on Bloon! Chapeau!
Good things take time, as the saying goes, and Jost Nickel really took his time writing and realizing his debut album. The wait was worth it! With The Check In the drummer has succeeded a very big throw!