Raise the curtains, it’s showtime! If one word were to describe "Labyrinth", the Hanover band Was Nun’s debut album, it would be compact. At times it is hard to believe that there are only six band members, as the concentrated cohesive power of their music rivals that of most big bands. The reason for this is simple: all six musicians have extensive experience playing in large ensembles. Actively listening and communicating is in their DNA. The six youngsters know their strengths and how to build upon them. And this compactness gives the band its unique sound, says saxophonist Moritz Aring. With Was Nun, the saxophonist Moritz Aring, trumpeter Marvin Zimmermann, trombonist Jan Frederik Schmidt, pianist Anthony Williams, Bassist Marcus Lewyn and drummer Erik Mrotzek all value the collective more than the individual. Similar to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, the band comes first and the players second. But unlike Blakey’s superstar lineup, no member of Was Nun is replaceable, because the compactness of the band’s sound comes from exactly the six voices and personalities that the band members bring with them.
“Labyrinth” is characterized by the six musicians’ immense professionalism, apparent not only in each composition and arrangement, but in the whole culture of the band and the way in which they make music together. Every element has its place, the superfluous is removed, and each of the six knows exactly what to do at any given moment. Yet spontaneity abounds as well. The momentum is palpable, not just during solos but throughout, a collective high of creation at times reminiscent of Duke Ellington’s best moments. Each musician knows precisely the capabilities and tendencies of the other five. They support each other and drive the music to every dramatic climax. There is no need for a ‘bandleader’, the group makes all their decisions by consensus.
The name Was Nun comes from a corner bar in Hanover where the six friends used to spend their evenings. For the band, “Was Nun”, or “what next”, isn’t a question, but rather a defiant exclamation, where the focus is on the “what”, the content and essence. Authenticity and passion are their lifeblood. A labyrinth is a place to find one’s self, not one to get lost. “Labyrinth” is the decisive debut of a band that found itself long ago and can now articulate precisely what it wants to.
The album’s artwork, created by the Düsseldorf-based artist Fynn Ribbeck, was made in close collaboration with the band. The unique piece is perfectly tailored to the music.