It’s is 8 p.m. Berlin time, but the sun is still shining brightly into an open window in the Jazzanova studio’s lounge and kitchen area. A dog barks persistently in the background and intermittent whooshes are heard as vehicles zoom by outside.
“The sun doesn’t go down here until 9 p.m.,” says Alexander Barck, who’s hanging in the studio with Stefan Leisering, who parrots that sentiment. The pair comprises two-fifths of the German DJ/producer collective – the others being Claas Brieler, Axel Reinemer and Jürgen von Knoblauch. In this idyllic place, Barck and Leisering sit shoulder-to-shoulder, filling in the gaps in each other’s sentences. After working together for more than 20 years, this is to be expected.
Even when the collective first emerged in 1995, with the members in their early to mid-20s, what they produced – DJ sets, original music, or remixes – was always appealing to the developed tastes of a 30-plus age group. According to Leisering, that number hasn’t changed much—even if they are gaining some young fans on the festival front, while their original fans remain loyal.
Still, Jazzanova has evolved musically. Its early productions were on the Brazilian/Latin/house-y tip, with its first album, 2002’s In Between having a strong R&B and hip-hop influence. Its second album, 2008’s Of All The Things, veered toward classic soul. On the group’s new album, The Pool, Jazzanova turns its focus to songwriting, with every tune featuring a strong vocalist. For the album, the on-mic talent includes Jamie Cullum, Ben Westbeech, Paul Randolph, Rachel Sermanni and Charlotte OC.
The Pool has connections with the two previous albums, as well as Jazzanova’s 2012 hybrid live/compilation album, Funkhaus Studio Sessions. While In Between relied on samples, programming and electronics, Of All The Things pushed live instrumentation. The Pool fuses those approaches, but to a lesser degree with the samples, as they were created by Jazzanova themselves this time around.