Another new album by Peter Brötzmann which feels to be his 231.498th one (or so) and as usual it raises the question if we need yet another of his duo performances because he has released a lot of sax/drums duo albums, among them legendary ones with Han Bennink and Hamid Drake, which have set high standards.
But he hasn’t released a duo with Steve Noble before, although Noble is part of his trio with John Edwards (b) (just recently he extended this trio to a quartet with Jason Adasiewicz on vibes at the Berlin A L’Arme Festival– it was a killer performance). Noble is an excellent drummer, who has an interesting post/punk background on the one hand (I first became aware of him as a member of Rip Rig and Panic in the early 1980s), but on the other hand he has always been interested in African rhythms (he studied with Elkan Ogunde) and he has always had connections to the British free jazz scene being a regular participant of Derek Bailey’s company weeks.
The opening title track of this album is typical Brötzmann: lately he has tended to begin his recordings at a very high level, he gets in at the breaking point of the wave and keeps this level for 10 – 15 minutes. Even if you have seen (or heard) this before, it does not lose its fascination, it grabs you by the scruff of the neck and does not let you go. He starts with his typical Brötzmann tenor honk (consisting of four notes) marking the territory, stating: This is a Brötzmann record, this is what you’ll get, be prepared for it. And Steve Noble is with him from the very first second, he even pushes him to his limits. But he is also a very sensitive player, which becomes quite obvious at the beginning of the second track “If Find is Found” where he starts soloing while Brötzmann is changing to clarinet. He concentrates on his toms preparing a very repetitive African basis for Brötzmann’s blues inspired hollers, which is a very intense moment. Both players are rather aggressive on this album but as usual there are balladesque moments as well, e.g. at the beginning of “Mouth on Moth”. Maybe this is the greatest quality of Brötzmann on his latest albums. He is able to play slow ballads without being cheesy, there is always an angular and yearning element in them – and Noble is a drummer who can support this aspect of Brötzmann’s music perfectly.
Finally, back to the question from the beginning: Do we need this album (especially considering the fact that Brötzmann has just released another great duo album with Hamid Drake)? Well, maybe not necessarily. There are classics which are more important (as a duo recording I would always recommend “The Dried Rat Dog” with Hamid Drake on Okka or “Ein halber Hund kann nicht pinkeln” and “Schwarzwaldfahrt” with Han Bennink which were just rereleased by Trost) if you have just discovered him. But this is a very good album, and you won’t be disappointed. If you are a fan (like me) it is must, of course.
The album was recorded live at Ateliers Claus in Brussels on January 19th, 2013, the cover was designed by Brötzmann himself, but it is not one of his woodcuts, it is one of his rather rare pornographic drawings in the expressionist tradition.
You can buy it from www.trost.at or from instantjazz.com.
Watch “I am here where are you” (the title track) here: