As the lights inside the experimental hall were dimmed, a big stage light shone on the centre stage illuminating the cherry red drums, the polished black piano and the big wooden double bass. Slowly, the stars of the night's jazz performance made their way to the stage accompanied by encouraging claps from the crowd. With a faint smile, the musicians bowed down acknowledging the audience's appreciation.
On the night, the Germans – Manuel Schmiedel and Moritz Baumgärtner – alongside the Italian – Igor Spallati – were the "The Three Musketeers"; the last line of tonight's defence. With the hall falling to a pin drop silence, the stars took their places alongside their instruments.
The show started with Manuel's hand dancing on the keys of his piano. Soon he was joined by Igor's double bass and Moritz and his drumbeats. As the composition started to pick up, the performers started to find their footing.
The band enthralled the audience with their unique concept of tone, rhythmic perfection and subtle interplay. The concert ended with great applause in a full theatre hall. Yet throughout the show something was missing? And then you know – the saxophone! The saxophone was the missing jigsaw of the Quartett that was left half done tonight.
So how do you have a jazz concert without a saxophone? Well truth be told, the show's front-woman and the evening's starlet Charlotte Greve was in Dhaka, but unfortunately not at the concert venue. She was at the hospital fighting dengue and yet here we were all sitting down in our seats. The show it seemed must go on.
Goethe-Institut Bangladesh in collaboration with Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy was hosting its annual year end jazz concert. The evening's attraction – Lisbeth Quartett. Founded back in 2009 by Brooklyn-based German saxophonist and composer Charlotte Greve, have gained international acclaim with five albums they have so far put out for the audience to savour.
"The Lizbeth Quartett is a band with saxophone, piano, double bass and drums. We are more like an acoustic band; minus the distortions," said drummer Moritz Baumgärtner, sitting alongside the band's bassist Igor Spallati as we chatted at the green-room backstage.
"Quartett" in musical term signifies a group of four musicians. And "Lizbeth", what does it imply?
"That is Charlotte's middle name, am I right?" Igor stated looking at his band-mate. Moritz nodded and stated, "That is correct."
Talking on the influence of jazz, Moritz stated, "When it comes down to music, we all have different influences. My parents are classical musicians, I personally like hip-hop and funk and if you think about it that's a nice thing about jazz music specifically being open minded about all kinds of music but the main thing is improvisation. Do not get me wrong we dabble in other genres as well."
A part of being in a band is touring the world from one end to the other. So how often does the Quartett miss their home sweet home?
"It is kind of how your life is. When you are on a tour, you really cannot go on with the things you usually do in life. Everybody has work to do, but also this is work as well. We do so many things in one day. Having said that, I miss home a lot. Especially my son," Igor retorted.
"The thing is Manuel and Charlotte live in New York and we in Berlin. So, when we are with our family, we miss them. We are always missing something be it our family or the band. But to be frank, right now I am missing a slice of German dark bread," added Moritz cheerfully.
As we neared the end of our conversation, I had to ask if there was anything they liked here in Bangladesh? Moritz jumped on to the question and exclaimed, "I really like this dish you have called daal (lentil soup). Igor and me we were craving for it all the time, eating it whenever we had a chance."