Sometimes you wish that German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann would do something else that what he's been doing for the last fourty years, namely to blow his lungs out in his horn, occupying musical space and then not let go of it for the rest of the performance.
Sometimes you wish that German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann would NOT do anything else than what he's been doing for the last fourty years, not only because that's what he does best, but because doing other stuff clearly brings him out of his comfort zone.
Peter Brötzmann & Paal Nilssen-Love - Woodcuts (Smalltown Superjazz, 2010) ****
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Sonore - Call Before You Dig (Okkadisk, 2009) ****
Peter Brötzmann, Mikołaj Trzaska & Johannes Bauer - Goosetalk (Kilogram Records, 2010)***
Peter Brötzmann - A Night In Sana'a (ARM, 2010) **½
The first piece starts with the Yemenite band playing their classical Arabic music, accompanied by Zerang, with its typical sophisticated sad and spiritual tone, marked rhythmic unison lines, and long improvisations. When Brötzmann joins after six minutes, it sounds like the building is being invaded by godzilla in person, yet the terrified band keeps playing, and they are right, because godzilla apparently retreats so that they can bring their music to its expected finale.
To be honest : it just doesn't fit. Brötzmann lacks the skills to find common ground with the band from Yemen, nor do they seem particularly open to what the German does. Brötzmann's compositions are too bland, as compared to the opening and closing track. There are many other examples where traditional arabic music and jazz work very well, but not here. Brötzmann's endeavor to follow the melody on the second track is almost painful (as on the other pieces), yet it does work when he completely ignores the tune, and does his own thing just on top of it. Believe me : that works, and after a while there are even some great moments of powerful contrast.