Donning a horned Sardinian mask when he created his on-stage persona for his side-step into neoclassical piano music, Hamburg-born pianist and composer Lambert was once a gigging jazz musician, but was kicked out of his jazz band while trying to infiltrate the Berlin jazz scene. But now, after feeling ostracised by the jazz community, he finally feels ready to return to the genre he loves so much, 12 albums later. He speaks to Headliner about his pre-Lambert jazz beginnings, and coming full-circle with his stunning new record All This Time.
Those familiar with Lambert’s music may have picked up on hints of a jazzier past here and there, even on his self-titled debut album back in 2014, a work of pure neoclassical piano with no added instrumentation or electronics.
Lambert scholars might agree the hints have grown heavier with each of his prolific album releases, with the nod perhaps heaviest on 2021’s False (which followed True). An album he hadn't originally intended to release, it nonetheless showed the most experimental and improvisational side seen from Lambert yet.
Headliner mentions to Lambert that, seeing him live for the first time way back in 2015 (at Servant Jazz Quarters, no less), it was obvious he felt most comfortable bringing jazz to the table when playing live, as he would add extended improvisation moments to his set, and often would close his set with a moment of avant-garde madness as he and his band would just completely let rip on their instruments.
“Yeah, it’s true,” Lambert says, speaking from his home in Berlin.
“Some people would say that and could hear it in my music, but also a lot of people wouldn’t!” he laughs. “But when I started being Lambert and was placed in this neoclassical world, it would only be occasional people that would pick up on the bits of jazz in my live shows.”