ffh-schlot-cd-release-4FOR FREE HANDS

JAZZPODIUM:  “Andreas Brunn is a dedicated guitarist and composer, an active mediatorial and reconciler and particularly fond of the East, nota bene Bulgaria. (…) “Perpetuum five” comes as electrified post-bop, grippy, squared, edged, angry, mad, jazzy. Karparov and Brunn are lively and striking. And there is the uncomfortable “Magic Friday” or the title track, in which Karparovs tendency to occasional lyricism and Brunn’s occasional “circuit-with-funny outbursts” provide the contrast that generates voltage and excitement.

Or view the “East Side Gallery”’s story as the story of a quartet who, without doubt, would  be able to find a comfortable place for themselves in the world, but instead they use the burden of time and the historical workup and responsibly turn it into harmless music that otherwise must have been uncomfortable to make. And it is just then that they are at their best. And on the double bass, George Donchev still plays exactly the bittersweet mix of boundless joy and all what lurks just beneath that joy.” Alexander Schmitz

JAZZ Thing: “Those who can count have a clear advantage, and being able to do fractions does not hurt either. 5/8, 7/8 & 13/16 are some of the rhythmic fabrics that together form the outfit of the multicultural Berlin-based quartet FOR FREE HANDS on its new CD “Kaleidoscope Freedom”, and it teems with surprising twists and turns, pitfalls and tricky cliffs.

Biographical references also play a central role, like the openness of the many facets with which they encounter the former city wall. But biography and identity are not all that matter, rather the self-evident certainty with which the quartet drives the various facets of electrified jazz and charges of energy – and also, crucial is the exuberant joy of playing.” Stephan Hentz

Gaildorfer Rundschau

“… Specialist in infernal rythyms – effusively, intoxicating– that´s how the quartet “For Free Hands” presented themselves. Compositions from their new studio-album „Kaleidoscope Freedom“ surprised the audience. The polymetric concepts produced an unusual tension in the music. When in “Magic Friday” guitar- and saxophone cadences mixed over a 13/16 beat, the musicians took to it like ducks to water. “For Free Hands” left the audience flabbergasted. …”

Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung

FOR FREE HANDS @ JAZZTIME HILDESHEIM Festival: „… Current European influences are translated in music without abandoning its roots in jazz. Several compositions are dedicated to the Balkan with its odd meters.

The musicians, among them two Bulgarians and a Greek, manage to draw crowds with their energetic play. …“

Westfälische Zeitung – Warendorf

„… The ensemble FOR FREE HANDS surrounding the renowned guitar virtuoso and composer Andreas Brunn, with its dynamic style of play, offered a captivated audience a great example of contemporary jazz during their well-attended concert within the series „Jazz im Dachtheater“.

Their music did not come across as overly cerebral, but conveyed the emotional content in continuously innovative and thrilling fashion. They borrowed from rock, classical music and avantgarde as well and despite being rooted in tradition, refused to be pigeonholed. Even a formative principle like a fugue, which seems rather academic when played by other ensembles, presented itself with palpable lightness and great emotional depth in the piece “Wizards Cube”.

“Birds of Passage” gave proof that these four musicians did not compete with one another but instead created a dialogue, whose allure instantly connected with the keenly engaged audience. Fascination and imagination were combined during “Magic Friday”, as the warm tone of Vladimir Karparov’s instrument beautifully harmonised with the string sounds of Andreas Brunn. In true “Kaleidoscope Freedom”, the quartet presented its view of the world, while creating sonic images of compelling beauty. …” Axel Engels

Braunschweiger Zeitung

„… Is FOR FREE HANDS a programmatic name? Does it stand for unlimited freedom of musical expression? Does it hint at unbridled, free resort to jazz traditions and musical forms? Well, the music surely exhibits these concepts. For instance, „Perpetuum 5“. Slow at the start, but gaining in tempo. Swift chord changes, enacted every fourth or even eighth of a measure. Smells like bebop. Andreas Brunn’s guitar solo: in John Scofield-esque fashion fluent melody lines und rapid chord changes are merged.

Then again, there are some rather free passages and meters. „Magic Friday“ features a krivo horo of 13/16. Once you’ve just attuned yourself to the meter, you are thrown off track by Karparov’s beautiful melodic styling on the saxophone. Highly sophisticated jazz – Karparov – the Balkan version of Coltrane! Not only the dialogues between guitar and saxophone amaze as expected, but also those between guitar and bass as well as between the tenor sax and the percussion. …“ Klaus Gohlke



Fotos by Javier Martínez

Published at Modernícolas (leisure and culture agenda of Malaga)

 “… A NEW WAY TO UNDERSTAND JAZZ … The word to define this Berliner quartet is synergy. The red light of Echegaray’s theatre has got a private atmosphere but these geniuses did the rest. The audience could go into raptures over the quartet’s interpretation which, as a whole or individually, livened up the evening.

Contemporary Jazz is how For Free Hands music is designated. To tell the truth, the melodies we heard were totally new and different from classical jazz. Furthermore, the band gave a proximity that the concert could even more be enjoyed, between sips and talks with the person sitting close to you.

The beginning which seemed to be strident for not used ears, became a sweet melody which mixed rythms, and above all, different instruments being played by these specialists. That picturesque quartet kept those attentive who dared and this new rhythm consists of various cultures which between rests and quavers sound good music. …“ Javier Martínez, translated from Spanish into English by Gwendolyn Cano

Rheinpresse: Four nations, no borders!

Dinslaken (RP): In Berlin, those who play together, stay together. With “For Free Hands” the audience experiences a truly international quartet, that provides a good reason as to why Balkan-folk and free improvisation should merge.

“For Free Hands”  combines captivating and intricate improvisation with folklore, working with rock, pop and classical music, cherrypicking from the avant-garde. They look to the future with all the consciousness of their traditional roots. At a glance, you have European and contemporary jazz, that is full of complex rhythms and astonishing grooves that those on stage play with unbridled joy.

From dialogues to duels – It is clear that Bulgarian saxophonist Vladimir Karparov has the inspiration that brings the spirit of the Balkans to life, with his alternative, high energy tenor and soprano playing. His sets are intense and usually fast-paced. The American Jonathan Robinson has commended him on his smooth bow and nimble fingers on the contrabass. The young Greek drummer Dimitris Christides, who played for many years in London, contributes with a surprising sound, a great counter-argument to the saxophone. Seemingly easygoing, he concentrates on the truth, building a foundation for a dialogue that occasionally springs up with duelling ferocity.

In the second set we see “For Free Hands” from a totally different perspective. Andreas Brunn arrives with the e-guitar and adds a sweet element to the mix. In “Perpetuum 5”, Brunn and Christides play a minute-long and dynamic “solo for two”.A band that changes rhythm and tempo again and again, that dares to experiment, gathering the principles of jazz together with elements of melodic pop for a meeting that results in musical joy.

The audience love it and burst into rapturous applause, they can hardly believe that with “Bottomless Box”, they have already reached the end of their evening of jazz. And with this, the musicians show us what it’s all about: a markedly open style of jazz, with different colors and more complex rhythms, full of emotion and passionate intensity. Four musicians from four different nations that take to the stage, remove all barriers, and call for the freedom of the world with their instruments. Four musicians, no borders! Ralf Schreiner

Kieler Nachrichten

The fabulous four in Balkan fever – The title of the new For Free Hands album is “Transversal”, meaning “across the mainstream”. For Free Hands is one of the most successful “East-meets-West” jazz projects to be found in Germany.

The mastermind behind it all: Berlin guitarist Andreas Brunn, who has gathered together an international tribe of musicians who share his idea of mixing different styles of music. The other band members are New Yorker Jonathan Robinson (double bass), the Bulgarian Vladimir Karparov (soprano and tenor saxophone) and Greece’s Dimitris Christides (percussion and drums).

A 13/16 beat, that can be found in tracks such as “Magic Friday”, is no problem for Christides. Jonathan Robinson is convincing and confident with his careful and concise bass sound. The exeptionally gifted saxophonist Karparov understands and masters the traditional and eastern rhythms of his origin, which are combined with the most innovative jazz techniques.

Band leader Andreas Brunn, playing his seven string acoustic guitar and his e-guitar by turns, constantly reminds you of the music of John McLaughlin. His compositions and performances are enigmatic, intelligent and full of experience. “Wizard’s cube” is a unique piece of jazz fusion.

Magazine „Der Neue Tag“ Weiden

Gourmet Chefs of Music! “For Free Hands”, a quartet created by guitarist Andreas Brunn, is one of the new bands that have made Berlin the centre of the current jazz scene. Their music is descended from many diverse cultures: Greek drummer Dimitris Christides has the ability to play the trickier rhythms in his blood, and with the support of American double bass player Jonathan Robinson, Christides knows how to vamp in even the most unusual meters.

The Tasmanian saxophonist Dan Freeman, substituting for Bulgarian Vladimir Karparov, coped competently and confidently with even the most difficult pieces, including the frenzied passages performed together with Brunn’s guitar-play. Andreas Brunn is a practiced and expressive guitarist. On his seven-string acoustic guitar he looks to create a soft, warm tone and with his electric guitar he handles elements of rock, blues and funk. The use of electronic elements seeks to alienate and it gives their music an unresolved, spherical sound. Louis Reitz 

Delmenhorster Kreisblatt

“Top level jazz-artists playing extraordinary music at the Jazz Festival in Stuhr”
For Free Hands offered a fantastic jazz set and knew how to win over the public. Band-leader Andreas Brunn from Weimar on the seven-string acoustic guitar and electric guitar, Vladimir Karparov from Bulgaria on soprano and tenor saxophone, Dimitris Christides from Athens on drums and Jonathan Robinson from New York City on contrabass delighted the audience with refreshingly unusual traditional music from the east Balkans and groovy jazz from the west, brought together to form an extraordinary musical experience. This all added up to the high-class quartet’s final song being met with tumultuous applause and cheers. What a quartet!

Regionale Rundschau Stuhr/Weihe

“Jazz-Festival surprises with unusual and extraodinary rhythms” The festival’s grand finale was delivered by the jazz quartet “For Free Hands”, with concentrated passion and jazz energy. It was pure indulgence to see the international group embracing the audience in a swirl of it’s contemporary jazz interpretations and Balkan rhythms. The greek “Master of Groove” Dimitris Christides handled his drums incredibly, with full physical play, a real feast for the eyes. Brunn’s melodies on his seven-string acoustic guitar were absolutely fantastic , enriched by Vladimir Karparov’s saxophone and last but not least Jonathan Robinson from New York on double-bass.
“Thrakian Dance” was a true pleasure – a composition by Karparov from Sofia and the piece “Wizards Cube”, written by Andreas Brunn, was a great combination of jazz and Balkan sounds. At the end of their set, the four virtuosi received a standing ovation, and deservedly so!
(Dagmar Voss)


FOR FREE HANDS – TRANSVERSAL: … Andreas Brunn constantly moves between musical borders and styles – between avant-garde jazz, Balkan folk, rock, pop, and classical skill, mostly played on the 7-string, although occasionally on the electric guitar, in order to use as many influences as possible. All the musicians in FFH are absolute experts when it comes to rhythm. When listening to “Magic Friday” (a refernce to Friday the 13th) you can almost see the guitar spelling out ‘transversal’ in the 13/16 bars.
The balkan influence is almost omnipresent and is even more fascainating with jazz thrown into the mix. Therein lies the key to FFH’s music: they are determined to keep to the roots of modern jazz whilst at the same time experimenting with free jazz, in an entertaining and musically-competent fashion. Alexander Schmitz

Kieler Nachrichten

Laid-back masterful craftsmanship in various styles, the musicians amazingly and respectfully create a world somewhere between folklore, jazz, rock and funk – a musicality without boundaries, something which is not always palatable but very rich in content… The rhythmically refined and complex songs melt into one another with ease, for which the young, talented, Greek drummer Dimitris Christides must be given credit. Whether he’s keeping the band on course or being bombarded by the technically flawless bassist Jonathan Robinson from New York, he creates new, slick and funky pulsing-grooves with his concise but sensitive playing – resulting in a sophisticated and firm rhythm base, onto which both instrumentalists Vladimir Karparov and Andreas Brunn can build their improvised dialogue. Karparov, from Bulgaria, starts off with eastern harmonies, switching to funky interludes, to swinging and grooving, to composing entirely free movements. He outdoes himself just as much as Brunn, who switches between an electric guitar, using a fusion of modern sounds, and a 7 stringed acoustic guitar, which he plays with considerable mastery, using a mixture of finger-picking and plectrum skills. The compositions, mostly his own, are effectively performed with absolute composure and accuracy…

Mannheimer Morgen

This concert-goer was carried away by the amazing dialogue between different cultures: Again and again the audience broke into applause throughout the breath-taking solos from the four diverse musicians. Band-leader Andreas Brunn, the creative director behind most of the songs from the new CD ‘Transversal’, kept the audience enthralled with his expressive virtuoso performances on acoustic and electric guitars. Exceptional saxophonist Vladimir Karparov drew attention with his quick-paced, Balkan-influenced rhythm and completely new, insane sounds. Jonathan Robinson threw lightning into the mix through his intense, driven, melodic bass-playing. Especially noteworthy is the precise way the musicains play together, bringing the melodies together into a pulsating fabric of sound, powered by Dimitris Christides’ fantastic drumming. The tension was held throughout by the numerous skilful changes in rhythm, key and tonal combinations, bound together in sensational ways by the four  jazz musicians. A spectator can’t help but tap their foot along to FOR FREE HANDS’ spirited variety of tunes. The final applause melted into a rhythmic clapping sound – clearly the crowd just wanted more!

Fränkischer Tag

Fizzing, tempetuous music: The quartet For Free Hands brought a rugged Slavic feeling to proceedings. They have extended their focus to mediterranean and modern influences: Slavic, Jewish and oriental styles are mixed in with Vladimir Karparov’s saxophone playing. The wild and coarse chords coming from Andreas Brunn promised merry anarchism. Dimitris Christedes, a great drummer with a groovy style and imposing bassist Jonathan Robinson have  built an outstanding rhythm set. For Free Hands was a truly worthwhile act to catch at the Bamberger Jazzkeller!

Liechtensteiner Vaterland

classic, modern and restless drums – The jubilee festival celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Tangente opened with the bands For Free Hands and Franco Ambrosetti European Legacy. For Free Hands began with its mixture of jazz and folk elements. (…) The band demonstrates their proficiency through a multitude of consciously mastered rhythmic changes, sound combinations and precise notes which have their origins in the Balkans or even India. Arno Oehri

Saarbrücker Zeitung

The enthusiastic audience of the Jazzfestival in St. Wandel wanted more. On an early Sunday afternoon, the final applause for the Berlin band For Free Hands led into rhythmic clapping, bringing the four musicians back for an encore. Vladimir Karparov, from the Bulgarian capital Sofia, and Andreas Brunn earned applause from the audience for their breathtaking solos, adding a light artistic touch to every track. And when they let themselves fall into their own world of improvised sound, it was enough to stir the blood of any jazz lover.

UUSI AIKA (Finnish newspaper)

The band For Free Hands performed at Pori Jazz on Tuesday and Wednesday and their heady mix of music styles and rhythmical firework left the audience’s heads in a spin. For Free Hands offers a challenging and rewarding musical experience to anyone who wishes to listen. Different influences stemming from folk-traditions are all incorparated into their style of jazz in a sensational way.

Zürcher Oberländer (Swiss newspaper)

For Free Hands is a loyally committed community that sticks together through thick and thin, not just as comrades but as musicians. At the climax of these compelling pieces, the members get ready for their solos and it becomes clear who has the most unconventional style: Brunn’s guitar groans under its master’s artistic fingers. With his performance the guitarist sets a high bar for the rest of the band. For Free Hands appeared in “Container” as a group , with a level of qualilty that should be seen more often. Renato Bagattini