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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Günter "Baby" Sommer - Live In Jeruzalem (Kadima, 2009) ****

"But the feel of openness and tolerance that is the foundation of our music, is not always to be felt. I soon found myself exposed to an atomosphere of strain and tenseness, demarcation lines separating past, present, peoples. Where am I? Thrown back in time, into the former GDR?" are some of the honest, straight from the heart liner notes from German master drummer Günter "Baby" Sommer, about his stay in Jerusalem, and referring to the political situation. But he was there for the music, and welcomed in bassist JC Jones' Kadima Music Salon. He was also welcomed by the various saxes and bass clarinets played by Assif Tsahar, Steve Horenstein, Yoni Silver, Yonatan Kretzmer and the guitar of Yonatan Albalak, in various line-ups ranging from Sommer solo on drums over trios to quartets. With the exception of JC Jones and Assif Tsahar, the other musicians are unknown to me, although I heard Horenstein play on the recent Joëlle Léandre album, "Live In Israel", also on Kadima. Sommer is gigantic, driving these musicians on and on, onward and forward, "hypercussive nimbleness", as described by Yonatan Albalak, a real pleasure to hear him interact, and he is indeed the star of the album, but Tsahar is also quite strong. Listen to "Bast" a trio with drums and two saxes, or to "Sababa" a duet between Tsahar and Sommer. Most of the album is free jazz at a very high level, well recorded, with a very open and disciplined approach despite the freedom of the music itself. All musicians respect each other and give sufficient space to the other players to do their thing, and with excellent results. "Playing together means peaceful communication. Our discourse is a discourse in free speech. ... working on a new foundation for a better society - a human groove", writes Sommer. May peace be with you all, and enjoy the freedom of music.

Watch Sommer with another context to get a better understanding of his own highly intense special way of drumming.

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