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Perth International Jazz Festival takes place from 9 to 11 November with over 60 local, national and international jazz artists for performances, intimate ‘in conversations’ and open rehearsals taking place in venues across Northbridge.

In the lead up, Around The Sound spoke with Walter Lang, pianist with Germany’s Trio ELF, who will be performing two shows at the Festival.

Jazz can sometimes be a divisive genre. For some its undercurrents of improvisation plug them directly into the wellspring of what makes music an essential part of existence.  For others, the seeming lack of regularity in the genre’s output, confuses and confounds in equal measures.

Trio ELF are a bit different to most of their jazz contemporaries.

That’s the nice thing about this band.  The normal reaction we get is, ‘I don’t really like jazz, but what you are doing, I like’.

They’re also inveterate improvisers, “There’s a lot of improvisation.  Eighty-five per cent of the music we play is improvised,” but their music accessible and they’re very much conscious of their audience.


“Every performance is important.  I don’t care if it’s a club where there’s only 30 people, or if it’s a big hall or, like where we did a big festival in Brazil, where there were like 5,000 people.  It really doesn’t matter as long as people listen and add into our music, get into what we’re doing.  So, every gig is really, really important to us.”

These jazzmeisters thrive on their audience’s involvement so they don’t just play in their own on-stage bubble.  Sure, they lock in tight, but they do it for the people, as well as for themselves.

“if you’ve seen us performing, you will know that I’m sitting with my back to the band, so I don’t see anyone [in the band].  Everything we do is just purely by listening.  All the cues are very subtle.  It’s all about listening.  Of course, playing together for 15 years helps that. The basic thing is I love the playing of Gerwin (Eisenhauer, drums) and Peter (Cudek, bass), and that’s the thing that helps us to trust each other, we love each other’s playing.  Since our music is so dramatic, we have to think alike, we have to go in the same direction all the time.”

There’s something else about Trio ELF that’s different to the jazz norm – whatever that is.

“The reason we play the way we do goes back to our beginnings. The Trio started when our drummer, Gerwin was asked to perform at some drum and bass raves with DJs.  He did that a couple of times and then he asked me to join him and then we thought, ‘Why don’t we ask a bass player?’  So, we invited Sven (Faller, original bass player) to join us and out of that the Trio was born. So, first of all, there’s the beats that our drummer plays.  The influence of drum and bass, the influence of hip hop, the influence of Brazilian music. The foundation of our music is not a swing beat in the traditional sense, but everything else is very jazzy.  Our drummer, Gavin, he doesn’t play the beats very strictly; he plays with the beats.  So, the music is very different every night.”

“One of the biggest things for us dynamics.  Our music is extremely dynamic.  We play very, very soft and very, very loud and everything in between.  That’s a real trademark of Trio ELF.”

We began left of field and just continued in that direction.

We suggest you follow along.

This is Trio ELF’s first visit to Australia.  They’re set to wow audiences at the Perth International Jazz Festival with two shows.

  • Saturday 10 November at the State Theatre Centre Rehearsal Room
  • Sunday 11 November at the Ellington Jazz club

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