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Shoji Hano (dr), Hans Peter Hiby (ts)

Manufaktur, Schorndorf, May 2022

Elisabeth Harnik (p), István Grencsó (s), Paul Lytton (d), Ken Vandermark (s)

KM28, Berlin. May 2022

Frank Gratkowski (bcl), Wilbert De Joode (b), Achim Kaufmann (p)

W71, Weikersheim. May 2022

اسم[ism]: Pat Thomas (p); Joel Grip(b), Antonin Gerbal (d)

Autopsi Pohl, Berlin. May 2022

Monday, July 4, 2022

Tatsuhisa Yamamoto - Recycling (Dasa Tapes, 2022)

By Keith Prosk

Tatsuhisa Yamamoto arranges two sidelong solos for percussion, electronics, and recordings on the 37’ Recycling.

Some other recent releases include the companion statements Ashioto / Ashiato with Eiko Ishibashi, Daisuke Fujiwara, and Sudoh Toshiaki, Agrro Pan with Riki Hidaka and Marty Holoubek, Treatments with Giovanni Di Domenico, Ishibashi, Jim O'Rourke, and Joe Talia, and Mokusatsu with Di Domenico. Beyond the players above, many of whom are frequent collaborators, Yamamoto often works with Akira Sakata, usually alongside Ishibashi and O’Rourke.

Each track is a multi-movement downtempo melange of mostly kit sounds and synths. Tapped cymbals, snarehead brushwork, rumbling kick drum, shimmering crash. Swells, static, skips, sines. Electric sources supply counterpoint beyond timbre; sustain, density, and a beating rhythmic complexity for discrete kit’s sparse pulse. While the variety of textures from each source number about the same, the weight of drum sounds feels greater. Not through use of extended techniques or an exaggerated grain but by being largely relieved of its rhythmic drive it gains a more tactile focus. Or maybe each bump and tap carries a greater gravity because the ear hangs on the sounds surrounded by electric contrast like it hangs on those in silence. Which might be alluded to in traffic, chirping birds, and roomsound on “Reducing” and provide a compelling argument as musical material in the rhythmic partner of a talkative hawk in “Reusing.”


Sunday, July 3, 2022

Vision Festival 2022: Lasting Impressions

Vision Festival 2022 Logo, from Arts for Art

By Gary Chapin, Matthew Banash, Paul Acquaro

Unable to be in New York this June, the Free Jazz Blog took part in the The Vision Festival this year from afar, enjoying the high quality video stream, but missing the community that forms around the festival ... and some of us missed the merch tables too ... however were happy to virtually attend and share our impressions.

Day 1: June 21, 2022

Thulani Davis and the RedKoral String Quartet

It’s hard to call this tribute to Wadada Leo Smith “timely,” because it would have been timely at any point in the last three decades. Maybe timeless? Let’s see how that works.

This is not a retrospective, despite the lifetime achievement language, but a curated evening of the artist as of today. It begins with a healing ceremony, an Albert Ayler tune played duet by Smith and Pheeroan akLaff. The density grows with each section of the night. The RedKoral Quartet plays Smith’s String Quartet #10, “Into the Morning Sunlight,” dedicated to Angela Davis. Pensive and light, initially, raising darkness. Mostly pulseless, with a score that eschews downbeats and meter—or the assumptions that lead to those things—and “leadership” passes from chair to chair, context to context.

It’s hard to parse the boundaries between composition, improvisation, collaboration, and interpretation, but my pedantic left brain keeps trying. I wish it would stop.

The string quartet is then joined by Smith’s “combo” (said lovingly), Purple Kikuyu, with Smith and akLaff joined by Sylvie Courvoisier and Linda Dohi on pianos. What an abundance of gifts on the stage! After almost a half hour, the string quartet withdraws and we have Purple Kikuyu on their own. akLaff’s drums are extraordinary, really driving the emotion of the group. Listening to this is like listening to an ecosystem, moving from focus to focus, each driven by intention. The whole driven by emergence.

It’s during this sequence that we get the most of Smith’s playing (along with the duets at front and back), and that is a joy. If nothing else, though, this evening reminded anyone who needed reminding that while—yes—Smith is a fantastic instrumentalist, he is more completely a preternaturally persistent composer and creator of structures that provoke genius.

Two film clips of Smith from Robert Fenz, and a short set with poet/playwright Thulani Davis complete the evening before the closing, joyful duet prayer. Aside from the content of each set itself, the curation was expert. It even had, if you will, a story arc. Beginning small, opening up to lush combinations of musicians and music, and ending small again. A wonderful evening, even viewed virtually.

- Gary Chapin

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Day 2 / 7:00 pm 

Matthew Shipp Quartet


Matthew Shipp – piano
Jason Kao Hwang – violin
Michael Bisio – bass
Jay Rosen – drums

Katy Martin – projected paintings

They played one tune with a video of Katy Martin creating paintings behind them. And the interactive with the livestream was full of crossfades between performers from a variety of angles that allowed them to really see their interactions as well as their physical movements. Whether it was a shot of Michael Bisio bowing his bass or Jason Kao Hwang slashing his bow across violin strings, Shipp doing slow whirlwinds to comp in time with rollicking thunder of the band or Rosen keeping time shown from above, I felt placed in a unique perspective.

Oh, and the music was good, too. Hwang’s name was familiar to me but not his playing as much.

He seemed totally integrated into the spirit of the evening whether plucking his violin or coaxing screeching wails from it as Bisio and Rosen locked into a deep-timbre foundation for the band to build on complete Bisio’s thoughtful forays and Rosen’s spicy rat-a-tat-tat’s, respectively. . As the music unfolded so did Katy Martin’s work on screen behind them. For me it was tough to get an appreciation for her work at first but like the snail climbing Mt Fuji in Issa’s haiku it went “slowly, slowly” then got to the top and kept going.

The quartet plus one left me with a deep impression of the physicality of performance. It leapt through my laptop’s screen and speakers as a process always in the now, wrapped up in the destinies that bring this music and art to our world. The five made the 45+ minute set seem almost effortless…um, wow!

- Matthew Banash

Day 2 / 9:30 p.m. 

Heart Trio  (Formerly William Parker Trio)


William Parker – bass, percussion
Hamid Drake – drums, frame drum
Cooper-Moore – homemade instruments
Lois Eby – projected paintings

Some angles of the live stream were from the back of the house and back of the band. And the direction was good, in my opinion, dealing with live and recorded images will maintain the intensity and integrity of both was a challenge met. But…how are people in the front row sitting still for this set? I’d pay to watch Parker and Drake look at a phonebook let alone play it and add Cooper-Moore’s deft playing of an array of homemade instruments this trio made music to accompany space travel from the sometimes dismal current state of world affairs to that musical big bang where we’re all from and yet toes rarely tapped and some even sat with arms folded! But that didn’t let me sour on this gig one bit, and the livestream really made me feel a part of it.

Cooper-Moore dressed in ascetic black from head to toe save for some gray crocs, Parker looking like a shaman in a toque and Drake dressed in red top and black pants looked like a line-cook from an Asian restaurant, had the spaceship plenty fueled up though and through two songs full of riffs that sounded contemporary but folkloric at times they rode ebbs and flows with Eby’s colorful, Zen-inspired, Miro-like works displayed behind them. Eby’s work adorns many of Parker’s releases and the union works well in real-time, too.

Parker and Drake know groove, and whatever the origin of the former’s instrument or rhythm the latter plays on his spare kit is usually transcendent. But the jaw-dropper tonight was Cooper-Moore playing an assortment of homemade bows, harps, and banjos with the physicality of a fervid piano player. Will Cooper-Moore wizardry at the forefront the three dialed up fluid grooves that danced around and through free funk, psychedelia, thanks to the banjo’s panoply of sounds, and even Don Cherry summoned through Parker’s musicality with a little horn. Do yourself a favor and a service, check out what they all were because Parker listed them all at the end of the set, but I was too awestruck one thousand miles away thinking, “If this music is where we’re all from, I hope we can get back there someday.”

- Matthew Banash

Day 3 / 7:30 p.m.


C’est Trois

jaimie branch – trumpet
Luke Stewart – bass
Tcheser Holmes – drums

Scott Kiernan - live video art

This set was the toughest for me to enjoy but would ultimately be the most rewarding if I didn’t believe in Three-Way Ties. As the band began playing and the Scott Kieran’s video images materialized and dissipated on screen the thought occurred to me, and don’t hate me, but it went like this, “Oh, Ok, the slow, meandering chaos of sights and sounds until the apogee and climax then let the dust settle and turn out the lights.”

And that wasn’t a cool feeling because being familiar with these three musicians it just felt as if I wasn’t giving them a chance. Turns out I wasn’t, and Scott Kieran helped me stay the path with his work, a blend of retrograde cable access knob twisting, and hallucinatory color schemes mixed matched with old Windows screensavers trick that looked like a hall of mirror that distracted me for hours staring at my computer screen at old sales jobs back in the early 21st century. The video entranced me as the band seemed to settle into their instruments. Subtle indeed.

Subtle as a hammer it would prove because this set illustrated how the performance comes alive, originating, and juxtaposing ideas, as muffled trumpet riffs or squiggles of manipulated sound coalesced over the fluid rumbling of Stewart and Holmes.

Branch played a spoken-word vocal sample which said, “To truly choose to love is heroic.” I was still wrestling intellectually with the idea that it was fun to see the expansiveness of each set but maybe a little variety of shorter tunes would work, too? Granted it was not a heavyweight wrestling match but at about 20 minutes in their set C’est Trois took me home to Jesus.

The construction of this piece revealed the group as one mind playing against itself, establishing, and expressing new ideas while also challenging itself to develop and express a response. What do you set up and how? How do you respond and why? And can one do it all in real time in the real world? That’s all the navel gazing as I’ll do out of deference to and respect for you dear reader as well as the artists, but it was the light bulb for me. It was the point of waiting without realizing it. Yes, transcendent, it helped me understand what those words, “To truly choose to love is heroic,” not only meant but what they could mean. Then Branch concluded the gig by fiddling with some sounds and the trumpet as if to say, “Ok, what’s next?” And it tied the whole experience together for me. Unity. In this world, unity can go a long way.

C’est Trois’ set outlined and explained the three shows to me - The music isn’t unorthodox; it just isn’t orthodox. One needs to devote time and attention to it while tapping your foot or bobbing your head. These three groups make music and visuals that are not soundscapes or diversions as much as landscapes where my mind roams finding freedom, inspiration, and damn good music.

- Matthew Banash

Day 3 / 9:30 p.m.

Red Lily Quartet

James Brandon Lewis' Red Lily, this night a quartet, featured the front line horns of cornetist Kirk Knuffke and saxophonist James Beandon Lewis, and the rhythm section of bassist William Parker and drummer Chad Taylor. The configuration is vaugly reminiscent of early Ornette Coleman with Don Cherry, and the opening moments of the set drew a direct line to the classic free jazz of the early 60s as Lewis and Knuffke wove in and out of each others melodic lines, partially in harmony and one hundred percent in sync. Lewis was the first to break away to a solo, which was both imbued in the jazz tradition and superbly unfettered. He played increasingly free until Knuffke joined with a thrust of trills and melodic snippets that then followed a similar path. The reparte between the two is infectious, riff after riff, circling around each other, building to one peak after another. As the quartet closed in at about the 20 minute mark, the focus panned to the bass and drums. Parker and Taylor are infallable, and their driving support ensured that the quartet's energy never wavered (as if that was even an option!).


My colleague, Kenneth Blanchard, reviewed this group's release, Jesup Wagon, when it came out and heard the same linkages to Ornette, as well as the powerful saxophone of David Murray in Lewis's playing. He wrote, "The jazz is simply exquisite. Each theme is richly romantic and follows traditional form: the theme stated and used as portal to new realms of design space." So while the line-up for the evening's show was a quartet, minus cellist Chris Hoffman, the music was just as powerful and maybe even more focused than it was on their debut release.

- Paul Acquaro

Day 3 / 10:30 p.m.

Nicole Mitchell Ensemble: Dreams of Awakening

Flautist and Composer Nicole Mitchell's set began with Terri Lynn Carrington playing a syncopated rhythm. Then, came the electronic percussion work of Val Jeanty which then shifted to other electronics, like a sample of a chous of voices, unclear, however, as to what they were saying. Ken Filiano's acoustic bass then snuck in beside painist Joshua White's abstract lines. Finally, Mitchell's crystalline flute work cut through the rest of the musical chatter. Serene and legato, Mitchell's notes seemed to float above the piano's urgency.

In fact, White's piano work was quite a prominent feature of the set. His rhythmic quirkiness propelled the group along and gave Mitchell much to react to. Mitchell leaned into the grooves, and offered impassioned improvisations. Interestingly, Jeanty added a bit of a retro feel to some of the music, like with record scratches, as well as futuristic hints, like the electronic accents during one of Ken Filiano's bass solo. Throughout, Mitchell spoke/sang passages, short mantra like phrases that added a spiritual vibe as well as bookended her scintillating solos. An excellent set and a fitting closing to the night.

- Paul Acquaro

Day 5: June 25, 2022  

Francisco Mela, drums, and Patricia Nicholson, movement

One starts to pick up on patterns. For me, along with all the regularly advertised stuff, this has been a festival of bowed string discoveries, poetry/music, and unusual ensembles. I haven’t been able to see every day of this, but on Day 1, I saw Thulani Davis with Wadada Leo Smith and the RedKoral Quartet, and her poem— Billie Holiday, Dark Lady of the Sonnet—was the gravitational center of the evening.

On day 5, Jason Kao Hwang’s Myths of Origin for 30 Strings started us off with shouts and hammers, and then moving through a collection of “stories,” told by the ensemble and the improviser. I don’t know for a fact that Butch Morris influenced Hwang, but this performance made me supremely grateful to Morris that conduction has become a thing that improvisers do. The soloists were fascinating, without exception, but violinist Gwendolyn Laster (I think! Documentation wasn’t clear, but she appeared again on Day 6) held me especially transfixed. Holy cow.

Knife and Rose (Patricia Nicholson – text, movement / Ellen Christi – voice / Jean Carla Rodea – voice / Francisco Mela – drums, voice) partnered two vocalists with drum and dancer. Monique Ngozi Nri, poetry, and Ahmed Abdullah, trumpet launch into an intense duet (we are told by the presenter that it is “very charged.” The two get the audience clapping a beat and start a chant that, tapping into Abdullah’s abundant Sun Ra connections, begins:

We hereby declare ourselves to be another order of being

Ngozi Nri’s poetry has a different character from what we’ve heard before. More colloquial. More storytelling. More movement. Rather than being a poet backed by a band (however great), the poet-trumpet pairing feels genuinely intimate—possibly because they’re married, but I’m not going to presume! The duo access a broad humor and sensuality that I haven’t heard yet in the festival. My high point for day 5. Evoking Sun Ra is one clear way to my heart.

The sky is a sea of darkness when there is no sun.

The two ensembles of the evening are Watershed (Steve Swell – trombone, comp. / Karen Borca- bassoon / Rob Brown – sax / Melanie Dyer – viola / Bob Stewart - tuba / TA Thompson – drums / guest, Dave Burrell – piano) and Natural Information Society (Joshua Abrams – bass, gimbre / Lisa Alvarado – harmonium/ Jason Stein – bass clarinet / Mikel Patrick Avery – drums / Special guests: William Parker – bass, gimbre / Hamid Drake - drums).

Watershed trods the ground of its veteran out members. Rob Brown is effortlessly great, as are Swell, Stewart, and Burrell. The standout for this half hour, though, was Melanie Dyer, on viola. I am completely willing to admit that I might be focusing on bowed strings because that’s what happens to fascinate me this month. Even so, every review is written in the throes of some fascination or other, AND Dyer’s playing was some scratchy davis.

Natural Information Society took us into the groove of the grooves, using percussion and a hand pumped harmonium to lay the path. The traditional instruments playing repetitive, trance inducing, traditional sounding pieces brings to mind elements of ambient minimalist work, especially when Hamid Drake sets a run like hell drum drive under it all and Joshua Abrams starts triggering his pedals. There are no soloists to speak of for a long while. They are all individuals serving the ensemble. Eventually, Stein rises (metaphorically) with his bass clarinet and amplifies the greatness of the work they’re doing.

- Gary Chapin

Day 6: June 26, 2022

“Ain’t nothin’ real but love.” Oliver Lake

This afternoon dedicated to Oliver Lake is another masterpiece of curation—full kudos to the programmers at Vision. JD Parran and his group, Spirit Stage 2, lays a foundation with Lake compositions that is so solid you could build anything on it. The group playing and improv are very joyful, with Parran, Bill Lowe (bass trombone), and the aforementioned Gwendolyn Laster standing out. Add to this dance and headdresses. Another reminder that “this kind of thing” is trans-multi-media at its heart.

Lake’s JUSTICE with Sonic Liberation Front fills the next block with outplaying, choral support, and Lake’s poetry. The choir is charming, skilled, and beautiful, the ensemble and poetry are all strong. (Again, another great violinist, Veronica Jurkiewicz. I think I’ve developed an idée fixe.) For all that, it’s only when Lake re-emerges with his Trio3-mates Reggie Workman and Andrew Cyrille that his poetry really explodes for me. The subject matter itself explodes with rage. “I already wrote my I can’t breathe poem.” Truly a tour de force. Again, the poetry is the high point of the evening for me.

I was VERY MUCH looking forward to David Murray World Saxophone Quartet, progeny of the original WSQ, with Greg Osby, Bruce Williams, and James Carter. Unfortunately, this was the only part of the festival I saw that suffered from tech difficulties, with only two of the World Saxes being audible. That got fixed and the group failed to disappoint. Being honest, Lake’s work in the WSQ was where he had the greatest impact on me, and, I think, the field. So many sax quartets. How many would be there without the WSQ.

Writing about the Wadada Leo Smith night I talked about the vision of the artist as an instrumentalist and as a composer/visionary. I have to admit it felt like an absence that Lake didn’t play alto at all. I wasn’t disgruntled or anything, I just missed it. I do not know if there’s a reason for this (health, etc.) and I didn’t pry. Given the abundance of glory that Vision staged this afternoon, it seems ingracious, maybe even churlish, to bring it up.

- Gary Chapin

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Potentiale Festival: Shhh ... It's a Secret

Der Kulturhof

By Paul Acquaro

I am wondering if it would be better if I did not write anything about the Potentiale Festival. It feels like I'm exposing a precious secret. It's not that I think I have any great influence on the course of events, but rather, when something seems so perfectly done, do we really want anyone else to know about it? Well here goes: the Potentiale Festival, a small improvisational music festival situated in the middle of Germany, strikes a wonderful balance between the medieval charm of the canal encircled alt-stadt Kalbe, the entropic aesthetic of old barns and former storehouses, and the connection of people though improvised music, folk-art, and hob-nobbing.

Kuenstlerstadt Kalbe is the vision and sweat of town resident Corinna Köbele. The organization has taken many old, decaying buildings and converted them into the shabby-chic creative spaces that now host varoius festivals, in addition to Potentiale, of New Music and dance and theater, as well as offering a range of art and music workshops and camps for students. An aura of creativity and freedom was in the air during the weekend in June that Potentiale nestled into the village - the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, bees buzzing (standing under some of the trees, one could hear an incredible drone), and the mood was high.

This was the fourth edition of the festival. Curated by Leipzig based drummer Steffen Roth, the festival brings together improvising musicians for four days of collaboration and spontaneous configurations. The premise is that each artist has a solo set, then a "plus ..." set for which they pick others from the pool of musicians to play. Being that many of the musicians do not know each other, the 'hanging out' component of the festival is an important aspect, and so every set was full with the small audience and all of the musicians at the festival. Everyone was listening intently, whether it was to hear familiar sounds in new settings, see new faces making unfamiliar sounds, or just to take copious notes (actually, that was just me). There was even a space that offered people a place to play who were not on the program, where is where some exciing and unexpected configurations popped up.

THURSDAY NIGHT (6.16)


The festival began on Friday at 5 p.m. with the dedication of the 2022 Landmusikort award. Local and state dignitaries were on hand to recognize the importance of efforts like Kunstlerdorf Kalbe. Intriguingly, throughout the chairs set up in the large barn space (where most of the concerts took place) were hand drums, percussion fish, and various bells. After the opening, Peter Grunwald, director of the Kloster Michaelstein warmed up the audience by directing them in a percussion 'circle' - albeit not really in a circle (he told me later that the circle shape does work better, but it seemed not to faze any of the newly minted percussionists).

Chris Corsano, Hanne de Backer, Yuko Oshima

With the audience loose and rhythmically ready, the first performance of the night kicked off with American percussionist Chris Corsano and his selection of Japanese, France-based percussionist Yuko Oshima and Belgian baritone saxophonist Hanne de Backer. The percussion heavy trio began as the church bells from the nearby Dorf Kirche chimed for 6 p.m. The trio began slowly, extracting sounds from their instruments, Oshima with a violin bow against her cymbals, Corsano gently striking his drums with padded mallets, and De Backer biting down on her reed and blowing. Then, vocalizing through her sax, De Backer began ramping up the tension, with the two drummers lending an eager hand. Soon overblowing the instrument and playing short repetitive riffs, DeBacker dove deeper and deeper into the rich tonality of her instrument. Corsano and Oshima gave each other space but also left no beat untouched. It was an invigorating opening set.

Jasper Stadhouders

This was followed by a dinner pause. In the Kulturhof, a lovely tree festooned, courtyard surrounded by buildings dating from the middle ages (but luckily, modern toilets), a caterer was serving chili con- and sin- carne. Beer, wine and various soft-drinks were available, and picnic and high tables with umbrellas and leafy shade offered relief from the bright sun and clear blue skies. Slowly, as there was no real rush, the satiated small audience wandered back to the barn for the next set, where the Dutch guitarist Jasper Stadhouders had strapped on a electric guitar and was fiddling with his amps. For the next 45 minutes, Stadhouders showed just how much sound could be made by not playing the guitar but rather playing with it. Hardly touching the fretboard, he let the magnetic fields reverberate forming and shaping the sounds in the space between the instrument and the amplifiers. Modulating the vibrations with the pickup switches and by applying slight touches to the strings, his used a minimalist approach to create a big sound. Still vibrting the barn with feedback, Stadhouders picked up the guitar and began smearing the sound-palette with light touches to the fretboard, applying a slide, and detuning the strings, letting the overtones pile high.

Sylvan Schmidt


Outside of the barn, opposite the entrance to the courtyard, were old, stately willowy and leafy trees along the side of the canal that surrounded the alt-stadt. Each house lining the banks of the canal had a small, flat bridge leading to the gravel road on the other side. However, this is a detour, as the next set was happening through the courtyard and across the street in the Saint Nicholas Church, an old stone church in the middle of idyllic green patch with a few Yurts set up to house the craft events happening the next day. Here, Swiss trumpeter Sylvan Schmidt played a solo show from the resonate middle of the cross shaped chamber. The straight wooden pews did not invite relaxation but did help focus the listener on the austere tones from the trumpet. Schmidt began with a stuttering set of tones with much air surrounding them, which eventually led to long modulating streams of sound. The stone walls and high ceiling provided a split-second delay, reflecting the sound with in a dry, rapidly decaying wave. Listening to both was hypnotic.
 
Olaf Rupp, Georg Wissel, Harald Kimmig, and Yuko Oshima 

Returning to the barn, we were greeted by the newly formed group of German saxophonist Georg Wissel, guitarist Olaf Rupp and violinist Harald Kimmig, along with Oshima on percussion.  They began tentatively, putting out musical feelers, but a quick musical camaraderie soon manifested. A patchwork of ideas, leaning toward the quieter side but with focused energy, quilted the performance together. Towards the end, it grew so quiet that the effervescent birds outside the barn almost out-chirped the performers, but then not to be outdone, Rupp began played a repeated figured that pushed the others to a musical high point.


Ulrike Brand, Simon Rummel, Harald Kimmig, and Georg Wissel
 
The evening ended back at the church. The mood, set by cushions for the audience to sit along side the performers, the light of candles from the pulpit, and the gentle darkness, was given an appropriate soundtrack by German cellist Ulrike Brand, Kimmig, and Colonge based micro-tonal harmonic player Simon Rummel. The set began with Brand and Kimmig playing quietly and then soon joined by Rummel who was playing his own creation, a microtonal reed-organ (which simply needs to be seen). Sticking to three or four notes, the overall impact was a meditative dissonant drone that brought the evening of music to a gentle close.


FRIDAY MORNING (6.17)

Free Jazz Installation at the Gericht

By the camper van and tenting spot, next to the "Gericht" and "SPA - Spielplatz Anarchie", two of the Kuenstlerstadt's other big locations on the other side of the town from the Kulturehof and church (which sounds far, but is actually just around a corner) there was a coffee cart. Though I had picked up a to-go cappuccino at a bakery on my way into town, there is never enough coffee. It was a good cup, which I drank while making small talk with some of the attendees. I then entered the "Gericht" building, a grand decrepit turn of the 20th century stone building that gave name to the street it was on (Gerichtstrasse) that the organization used for art installations. A movie was being set up, the remnants of workshop on furthering the work of the Kuenstlerstadt, and a display exploring Free Jazz were among the finds in the various rooms. The latter featured large blown-up quotes from Derek Bailey's book Improvisation and a display of the book Fred Van Hove at 80 from Dropa Disc (sorry, sold out).

Across the street at the SPA, a lovely, smaller room set up with a drumkit, seats for an audience, and a chalkboard for musicians to use to sign up for ad-hoc concerts, Roth and Wissels were playing an ad-hoc set of music. In the backyard was an old Trabi showing off how to do entropy right and people, sipping their coffees, dotted the spaces in-between. Around the corner, at the church, the day's events were beginning. Ulrike Brand was about to lead a workshop and crafts folk were setting up.

Ulrike Brand

I missed the opening moments of Brand's performance and when I arrived, she was eliciting a myriad of tones from the cello, from slight brushes against the strings to violent sawing. Her playing grew more animated as she continued, mixing extended techniques along with more traditional musical motions. From the wings of the church, Wissels and Kimmig were slowly advancing, emitting soft tones from their respective instruments. Soon, Brand pulled the end pin from her cello out, which was long enough that when she attached a wheel to it, she could play standing up. The musicians crossed paths, then continued in their separate directions, Brand eventually walked out through the open door ... and that's about where the set ended.

Bruno Angeloni, Stefan Deller and Steffen Roth
  
After a bit of downtime, the next event was at the SPA where Roth had teamed up with Leipzig colleagues saxophonist Bruno Angeloni and bassist Stefan Deller. As they began playing, more and more musicians and audience entered, likely attracted by the energy that the trio was transmitting. Angeloni, on alto sax, dazzled with an unending array of fractured lines and Deller was a dynamic instigator. Roth added a concentrated energy that guided the group through this unexpected highlight.


FRIDAY EVENING 

Harald Kimmig

The afternoon was busy in the Kunstlerhof. One could play the Digeradoo, try screen screen printing, learn civil disobedience, and more. In the barn, Kimmig was getting ready for his solo set. The crowd settled in - a little larger in number than the previous night - as Kimmig began plucking a series of single notes and double stops, then segueing into a mix of classical runs, integrating them with textural sounds and dynamic tempos. The result was that while the techniques were extended, the overall effect was very organic and flowing. 

Chris Corsano

Corsano began his solo set by blowing a piccolo clarinet into a vibrating plastic lid. It was a squeaky affair, which the percussionist followed up with by continuing to blow the clarinet into a floor tom while striking another with a mallet. Then the clarinet became a mallet. Finally, both the mallet and acting mallet were replaced by drumsticks and Corsano leaned into a heavy and powerful beat. As the volume cooled off, the pulse began to break into fractions and accents appeared in unexpected places, effectively pulling the listener along in a tumble of rhythmic ideas. Corsano is an expressive player both physically and musically and his set cast a hypnotic spell.

Sylvan Schmidt, Hanne de Backer, Artum, and Steffen Roth

After a dinner pause, trumpeter Silvan Schmidt had assembled a quartet for his "plus ..." set. Performing with him was de Backer, Roth, and an 'outside the program' musician, Artum, playing electronics. The group began slowly with the trumpet and sax playing a modulating buzz, the drums energetically pulsating, and the electronics filling the center with unusual aural textures. The restraint finally broke after a extended electronics section, de Backer began playing animatedly, expressing her notes physically. Roth's playing grew louder and more aggressive, while Schmidt continued playing long, legato tones, heading towards an ecstatic peak that suddenly dissolved.

Olaf Rupp

Olaf Rupp was up next with is solo set. Switching to his signature Day-Glo green Stratocaster from the nylon string classical guitar that he played the previous night, he still approached the instrument in a classical manner - propped up on his left leg, neck upright, using his fingernails to pick the strings precisely and freely. He often juxtaposes dense, packed phrases with simple reverberating lines, which is how this set unfolded. In addition to the fingerpicking, Rupp used a violin bow to pull tones and sonic textures from the guitar, and at one point used two slides to produce a startling descending sound. 

Reiko Okuda, Olaf Rupp, Jasper Stadhouders, and Chris Corsano

In a sense, Rupp's solo approach was the opposite of Stadhouders set on the previous night, which was interesting for the next ensemble put together by the Dutch guitarist and included Rupp, pianist Reiko Okuda and Corsano. After a short quiet intro, Corsano picked up the pace and Okuda began playing arpeggiated runs, to which Stadhouders responded with rapid scales. Meanwhile, Rupp hung back, dropping little tone bombs from time to time. The group got into noisy jazz/rock territory for a stretch before things got a bit stranger. Some implements I've seen with guitars include a screw driver ala Joe Sachse, or a bedspring that Nels Cline keeps in his back-pocket, but this was the first time I've seen spoon. Stadhouders used it, along with a slide, to create a wild array of new sounds.

Hanne de Backer

As the night was winding down, we all made our way back across the street to the church for de Backer's solo set. Enshrouded in the quiet darkness, de Backer was lit up in the pulpit. She began with a soft melody and the light glinted off her baritone sax as she gently swayed in her seat. Her melody was tinged with a bit of blues and then some vocalizations, her tone grew rawer, sometimes agonized. As the gurgling, polyphonic blasts bounced off the walls of the church and the yellow light reflected off the bell, the concert felt quite spiritual.


CODA

There was still one more act this evening, vibraphonist Els Vandeweyer and Okuda's METAL ILLUSION, but unfortunately other responsibilities pulled me away from Kalbe. It was only halfway through the festival, but the creativity flowing through this intimate festival had, so far, been nothing short of inspiring. 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Der Dritte Stand - Der Dritte Stand (Not Applicable, 2022)

By Martin Schray

Der Dritte Stand is a new trio consisting of musicians of Berlin’s thriving Echtzeit music scene. Matthias Müller, my favorite German trombonist, is well-known for his work with Trigger, Superimpose and Foils Quartet (with Frank-Paul Schubert, John Edwards and Mark Sanders), bassist Matthias Bauer (Johannes’s and Conny’s brother) is a member of the Berlin Art Quartet and drummer Rudi Fischerlehner works with Olaf Rupp in their excellent outfit Xenofox and in Peter Van Huffel’s band Gorilla Mask .

The band’s debut actually is a six-part suite with tracks whose titles have the morpheme "-stand" in them, all of them with a different meaning. “Einstand“ refers to the drinks you buy for your colleagues when you start at a new job, “Bestand“ means “inventory“ or “stock“, “Zustand“ is the state of things, “Anstand’ can be translated with “decency“, “Umstand“ means “circumstance“, something that is important for an event and determines it and “Ausstand“ is the opposite of “Einstand“, it’s the drinks you buy for your colleagues when you quit your job. Ken Waxman refers to another meaning as to the title in the liner notes: “The CD title and trio name, which translates as the Third Estate, or the common people, came about after a fellow musician noted that each player’s surname initially denoted an ancient and honorable profession.“

It’s true that you can link the last names to professions (Müller/miller, Bauer/farmer and Fischerlehner/fisherman) however, to what extent instrumental music can be interpreted in such an explicitly political way is a bit speculative. What we can hear instead are improvisations which are simply finely crafted and highly subtle. The musicians all have an enormously flexible approach that allows for far-reaching sound manipulation. They can create tactile sounds, whether by using extended playing techniques like tapping and rubbing as to bass and drums, and by the mute on the trombone. All this happens casually, which is why the playing process seems so simple and natural. An example is the end of “Einsatz“, when Bauer’s bowed bass meets Müller’s murmured trombone and Fischerlehner’s hissing on the hi-hat. It sounds like a bumblebee flying through electrically charged rain. Much of the album’s music is sonic exploration, the tones speed ricocheting through space. But there are also moments when the musicians decide to play rather traditional free jazz, as in “Zustand“. Fischerlehner underpins the improvisation with a weird, clanking rock groove, Bauer swings in an almost Barry Guy-esque manner, and Müller's trombone is slightly reminiscent of Bauer’s late brother Johannes. Here the music has a special grip and tightness, shifting imperceptibly like a dune. Another example is the first part of “Einstand“, in which the musicians seem to stumble along. There is hardly any rhythmic flow, instead an almost desperate cheerfulness clings to the music - which is to be understood in a positive way.

You can find a lot of aspects which make today’s modern improvised music so delightful - from open, freely associated open soundscapes to dense passages with the aforementioned distant echoes of free jazz. Der Dritte Stand is varied and exciting in the best sense and therefore highly recommended.

Der Dritte Stand is available as a CD and as a download.

You can listen to “Umstand“ and buy the album here:

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Leroux/Van Isacker/Vanderstraeten – Als Ik Niets Meer Van De Kano Zie (Aspen Edities, 2022)


By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

Improvisation is a universal non-verbal language. For many of us it is a practice, not a music genre, one that knows no boundaries. Personally I’m really interested in the locality of an improvisational recording. I find it much more intriguing to listen to someone who improvises and lives outside of the big hubs for free jazz and free improv of the western world. It might seem trivial to many of you, but the fact that the titles and bandcamp notes are in the spoken language of the musicians add to this sense of locality.

Belgium, of course, belongs to what we call the western world with all the cultural connotations that this given facts drags along. But since the language (anything out of the English speaking world I would say) continues to form a barrier of difference, this LP only recording of one hundred copies carries the weight of bringing something new. Quite successfully I want to say.

The trio of Frans Van Isacker on alto saxophone and clarinet, Frederik Leroux on electric guitar and Kris Vanderstraeten on percussion and other objects gives us a free improvisational recording (from early 2021 making it another product of the lockdown era) of the highest order –and one of the best for 2022 so far. The musicians know each other for a long time and that shows quite clearly on the rapport of their playing.

Fragments of melody from the saxophone and the clarinette undermine deliberately the fragmented nature of their improvisations. Vanderstraeten’s percussion work balances between a polyrhythmic subtle playing and syncopated low volume drum playing. Leroux’s guitar works its way between the aforementioned two, acting like the glue that keeps all the lieces together. His playing (his contribution in general) makes me feel he is not eager to lead, his presence is equally shy as it is important.

There’s no need for anyone to lead as, on both sides of this vinyl, this is collective improvisation and the three musicians interact on an egalitarian basis. They seem to have totally embraced the egoless nature of their music, feeling so much comfort in it. The abstract nature of the cover art adds to this wonderful recording, plus that it’s quite telling, in its non-verbal nature, about the music that you will experience.

Learn more and listen here:

@koultouranafigo

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Samo Salamon - Dolphyology: Complete Eric Dolphy for Solo Guitar (Samo Records, 2022)

By Paul Acquaro

Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon is having a busy 2022, just half-way into the year and there are at least four recordings that he has released, two of which my colleague Matt Banash reviewed this week: Joy and Sorrow and Pure and Simple. Going back to the start of the year, Salamon released Dolphyology, an ambitious solo guitar project featuring the complete works of Eric Dolphy.

Personally, Eric Dolphy had been a bit of an enigma. When I was growing up in suburban New Jersey, I played bass clarinet and it was suggested to me to listen to Eric Dolphy. I found a CD release of his 1963 release Conversations, but I wasn't sure what I was hearing as it sounded kind of 'normal' to me. For a high school student infatuated with Bob Dylan, Violent Femmes and Dead Milkmen, what could I really hear? However, my love for the bass clarinet never subsided - it's still my favorite instrument next to the guitar - and when Salamon released this effort, fusing Dolphy and the guitar, it was more than time for me to re-explore this music.

This real take away from this rediscovery was already neatly summed up in Salamon's liner notes. He writes, "although Dolphy belongs to the jazz greats, in a way he is still such an underrated improviser and especially composer – having composed beautiful compositions throughout his fairly short career." That's it. The bulk of Dolphy's recording career occurred in the early 1960's, when free jazz was forming, and the reeds-man humbly applied his virtuosic musicianship to his compositions and playing in such a way that the 'in' and the 'out' were subtly and cohesively intertwined. I'm sure many musical scholars have done what if exercises to imagine how he would have continued developing had he not tragically died from complications of undiagnosed diabetes after a concert in Berlin in 1964.

As Salamon further explains, his work on this album was the result of being inspired by a conversation with fellow guitarist Miles Okasaki who had released a solo guitar project of Thelonious Monk's oeuvre (Salamon has a great podcast, Dr. Jazz Talks, which is worth an article itself!). So, using his Covid lockdown time wisely, Salamon revisited some of his own arrangements of Dophy's music that he had been playing and figured out how to make it work on solo guitar. Mixing more straight ahead interpretations with his own improvisations and free-playing, Salamon truly makes the music his own.

Recorded on a small recorder in his apartment, which sounds great, Dolphyology is both an intimate recording with sounds his breath, or a pet along, captured along with the rich sounds of his acoustic six and twelve string guitars and mandolin, as well a major showcase of his own humble virtuosity. The first track of the 2-CD set is 'Miss Movement,' which was a Dolphy composition released in 1958 by Chico Hamilton, in whose band Dolphy got his first career break. The Hamilton version is upbeat, it swings, and sounds pretty modern for the time. Here, Salamon takes the core melody and plays it once slowly and then picks up the tempo, retaining the swinging feel, but stripped of the lush horn arrangements and percussion, it is stark and revealing. The unusual intervals that Dolphy favored can be heard in the melody and the guitarist's improvised lines, revealing the brilliance of the composer even from his earliest output. This track is followed by 'Serene,' from Dolphy's 1961 Prestige recording Out There. Salamon's rendition is austere and gently flowing, in comparison to the slightly original languid version, on which Dolphy's brilliant bass clarinet solo mixes cry of the blues with rapidly repeated figures and smears of notes. Just these first two samplings already showcase the sensitivity to which Salamon approaches the music and the extent in which he made his own musical choices to condense the rich music to a single instrument.

Some other excellent arrangements are 'Lotsa Potsa' (which inspired the name of Dolphy interpreter Silke Eberhardt's project Potsa Lotsa and Posta Lotsa Plus.) Salamon's arrangement features catchy double stops in the head giving the song a slinky momentum. This is followed by a spirited improvisation that follows the general feel of the tune. 'Strength with Unity' seems like it could become a standard, or at least a favorite with guitarists, with its strong lurching introduction and sharp melodic hook. Played on the 12-string, the instruments natural chorus give this rendition an extra resonant richness. The music continue with excellent arrangements of 'In the Blues,' featuring a  frenetic free solo, and 'Red Planet,' with its catchy opening riff, are all found towards the end of disc two shows that Salamon's inspiration did not flag as he worked diligently through Dolphy's music.

Dolphyology is a deep dive into Dolphy's small, but influential, body of work. Every track has sometime to savor, acoustically and musically. This is a must for guitarists, Dolphyologists, and everyone in-between.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Samo Salamon & Sabir Mateen - Joy and Sorrow (Klopotec Records, 2022)


By Matthew Banash

Joy and Sorrow is a direct title for this collection of tunes. Sabir Mateen plays tenor sax, Bb & alto clarinet while Samo Salamon sticks with electric guitar. It's a briefer recording but don’t let the length or sparse instrumentation deter you from digging deep. In fact, those qualities reward a close, enjoyable listen.

Salamon’s notes read, “A beautiful, improvised duo session we did a couple of years ago (don't know exactly when) with Sabir...good times…” and really that’s about as much as you need to know.

“Joy” opens the proceedings and the two really pack a lot into this tune while keeping the parameters of tones and notes focused, eschewing scaling the heights for keeping each other and the music on target. There’s a nice playful bounce off one another throughout, too. They use squalls and squawks for effect along the way, not for blind alleys or fruitless searches. The bars and plateaus the duo reach keep inching up as the song plays so by the end the listener has scaled the same heights as Mateen and Salamon. It's also music of its own time, in its own time, unfolding as the notes ring out.

Where “Joy” starts slowly and builds, “Sorrow” begins in “medias res.” Mateen picks up the Bb clarinet, I think, and that noticeable timbral change is one of my favorites in all of music. It always sounds so wood-like to me, a full-throated, husky fluidity that seems practically tangible. Salamon lays down a little reverb laying for Mateen knotty parleys. And Salamon doesn’t step on or intrude. Mateen returns the favors. They both build up then one will step back and, in that moment, that nanosecond before the gears shift, Mateen or Salamon dig, excavating ideas from the music and mood. Salamon’s solo is prickly yet again within a range that eschews a wide swath of sounds for the plumbing of them exploring what their depths hold, say, and inspire. The track ends perfectly, sounding like a foghorn as we depart a lonely port shrouded in early morning mist.

Salamon opens “Motion” with fluid tones that evolve into sharp runs that counter Mateen’s alto clarinet. These two never get in one another's way but still manage to play with each other. Salamon’s playing on this track is some of my favorite. It has a slow, deep groove that hints at funk, as well as in other places on the release. Mateen’s keening tone on the alto clarinet cuts through Salamon’s lush sound in a deft rapport.

Mateen names the last track after it concludes. It's a brief excursion that could pass for a sweet tenor/bass duo, one with a slightly smoky sax and a plucky bass. “That was it,” says Mateen as Salamon’s guitar fades and the session ends. A simple wistful finish in the spirit of the recording.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Samo Salamon, Arild Andersen & Ra Kalam Bob Moses - Pure and Simple (Samo Records 2022)

By Matthew Banash

Samo Salamon calls this recording a dream come true in the liner notes and with Arild Anderson on bass and Ra Kalam Bob Moses on drums and percussion it’s easy to see and hear why.

The trio wrote most of the tunes collectively and there’s a sweet Albert Ayler cover.

Call it “American primitive meets pan-global jazz” if that does it for you. But don’t stop there. This tidy trio recording illustrates how Salamon, and the trio moves between genres, styles, and settings aplomb.

“Tell Yourself” opens with Anderson’s rumbling, thick but fluid bass and Moses creating the wide expanse for Salamon’s piquant playing. At eight minutes it's the release’s longest track and unfolds at a nice even simmer harken back to an ECM sound.

“Room of Clouds” is a perfect title with Salamon’s deference to Anderson’s bass and Moses’ Eastern tones. Salamon glides behind laying down shimmering violin like tones echoing a saxophone. These three move at their own pace, a hallmark I have noticed on more than a few of Salamon’s recordings. I call it “timelessness” as in without time.

The term Power Trio will get tossed around and that’s cool, it applies, but the music transcends the label. “The Golden Light of Evening.” This may be that “typical” cut but as pacing goes it's in the right place, nudging the ambience and tones up a bit, building on what came before. It shows Salamon’s versatility as well, interacting with and complimenting the bass and drums. Anderson has some nice touches that mingle a percussive style with his usual dexterity.

Salamon picks up the 12 - string for “You Take My Arm” and Moses plays a subtly dizzying array of beats as Anderson forges the song ahead. This is my favorite track so far, a mix of world music and American primitive, world rhythms and acoustic guitar with lustrous shimmers. There’s always plenty of space for the three to not just play but build. And again, the timeless is there, the music is on its own clock.

Another favorite is “Something Unusual “with Salamon getting a clean but expansive palette out of his electric guitar with Moses playing percussion that sounds like the Amazon flowing by. Anderson’s bass is the mountain and Salamon’s guitar are the climber’s steps. Moses’ percussion the human breath propelling them all upward.

Onomatopoeia: the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (such as buzz, hiss) - I don't know how this works with the song titles but it must have happened with this one. It reflects not only the spirit of a composition and recording but sounds to me like The Moon Departing After a Night With Us. Enjoy.

“Little Song” has an ECM / Rypdal vibe, tribal, emotive, and locked in. Embodies what the release’s title signifies, crystalline essence in the now… I could listen to this all day and night.

“Pure Simple Being” Moses’ song is the farthest thing away from the power trio concept, co-favorite song.

The recording concludes with “Ghosts'' by Albert Ayler. Perhaps another left turn but then again perhaps not. Ayler was known to have folk elements to his music, and this is an example of the perfect execution of that form for it feels like they are returning to the source for the apotheosis. A brilliant culmination tying all the personalities, styles, sounds and timbres together in way that personifies this trio.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Secret People - Secret People (Out of Your Head Records, 2022)

By Lee Rice Epstein

The Brooklyn and Richmond-based Out of Your Head Records, founded by bassist Adam Hopkins in 2018, has quickly become something of a playground for like-minded, polymath experimentalists. Altoist Nathaniel Morgan, guitarist Dustin Carlson, and drummer Kate Gentile appeared on record together for Carlson’s OOYH debut, Air Ceremony. That one featured a lush septet, and Secret People finds them contracting into a sparkling trio.

Similar to Dan Rosenboom, Jake Vossler, and Tina Taymond’s Trio Subliminal, there is a real collaborative drive behind Secret People’s music: unlike a de facto democratic structure—where a single dominant leader occasionally gives voice to fellow group members—Morgan, Carlson, and Gentile seem to operate on fully equal footing. Each track bears strong marks of the players’ signature sounds: Gentile ties threads of jazz, funk, and rockabilly into addictive polyrhythms, Carlson punctuating lyrical Frisell-like sections with shades of No Wave and shoegaze, and Morgan playing a series of astonishingly clear, jumpy, unbroken lines.

Morgan’s alto tears the roof off on the opening to “Peephole,” alternately dueling and syncing with Carlson, as Gentile rides a cymbal-heavy intro, soon skittering off into a spacious group improvisation. On the surface there’s nothing to necessarily suggest Art Ensemble of Chicago or fusion trios like Tony Williams Lifetime, but the searing groove on “legitimate perseverance,” the laid-back blues of “U,” and pointillist, percussive interlude on “swamp gaze” all hint at some of Secret People’s bedfellows.

If there’s any secret sauce to be found here, it’s arguably Morgan in the mixer’s chair. He previously mixed and mastered a number of Free Jazz Blog favorites, including the Webber/Morris Big Band’s Both Are True, Devin Gray’s RelativE ResonancE, and both Anna Webber’s Clockwise and Idiom (he also played on that album’s second half). Morgan’s albums have a typically deep depth of sound, instruments sound bright and lively. Carlson’s guitar has plenty of edge and bite, and there’s ample space for Gentile’s percussion and vibraphone to echo and fade. Much like Webber’s two Pi albums, nothing gets lost, and not a moment is wasted: Secret People is a nonstop series of addictive tunes and jaw-droppingly impressive solos. Highly recommended for summer days and summer nights, rooftop barbeques and beach bonfires, and all points in between.

Available on Bandcamp

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Peter Brötzmann / Fred Van Hove / Han Bennink: Jazz in der Kammer Nr. 71 (Trost, 2022)


By Martin Schray

In 1971, the Kammerspiele of the Deutsches Theater in Berlin-Mitte were located in what was then East Berlin, not far from the Berliner Ensemble, Bertolt Brecht’s theater, and only a few minutes away from the Friedrichstraße border crossing, the checkpoint for incoming visitors from the West but the final stop for GDR citizens, which is why the place was also called the palace of tears. The overall atmosphere in the city at that time can be described as heated, the political mood between the two German states was tense. However, those were also musically raucous times. In 1968, Wuppertal saxophonist and clarinetist Peter Brötzmann formed a trio with Antwerp pianist Fred Van Hove and Dutch percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Han Bennink, marking the transition from the power phase of European improvised jazz of the larger formations (e.g. his Machine Gun octet) to more sophisticated but still energetic playing in smaller lineups. The trio’s concert in East Berlin was Brötzmann’s first “official“ concert in the GDR (there had been a few unofficial encounters before) and the audience vibrated with excitement and anticipation. Now, on the basis of this sound document, one can listen to how the three musicians made the air burn.

Jazz in der Kammer No. 71 is a contemporary document of this second initial spark in European free jazz. Conventional “jazz rules“ were still broken, but especially sound was redefined in the process. Brötzmann, Van Hove and Bennink moved away from the boisterous outcries of early European free jazz and discovered the quiet, delicate sides of their instruments. They gave free rein to their ideas, tamed only by few agreements: spontaneous music, linked with humorous interludes and excessive atonality. The variety and density, structure, fine dynamics and musical microcosms of this music are still surprising - even after more than 50 years. A rich, musical world unfolds that has not taken on any patina.

For Jazz in the Chamber no. 71 offers everything that one has come to love on the nine albums released so far by this trio (if you count the four with trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff as well): The clash of different creative means, Peter Brötzmann’s expressive spectrum from primal screams to the most delicate, softest breaths, as well as his drones on the baritone saxophone reminiscent of foghorns; Han Bennink’s instrumental variety through the use of his home made junk (exotic drums and rattles and unconventional instruments); but especially Fred Van Howe’s energetic, ultra-fast trills, his oddballness, the folk songs he likes to intersperse, and his Taylor-like cascades, which, when combined with Bennink’s attacks on cymbals and snare, make one think of barrages. Brötzmann himself is rather restrained by his standards, which brings Van Hove more to the fore compared to other recordings, since in the past he often threatened to be drowned in the saxophonist’s and Bennink’s storm of steel. As a result, the basically highly condensed music gains more space, humor loosens the tension, and unusual techniques and stylistic elements are integrated into the musical events in an almost collage-like manner.

These live recordings are already one of the finest reissues in 2022 jazz (along with Albert Ayler’s Revelations - The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recording and Charles Mingus’s The Lost Album from Ronnie Scott's). This band’s music is so radically democratic, technically sophisticated and musically pleasurable that after listening to the album you want to start over again and again. The striving for openness, contrast and structural clarity is also evident in the fact that there is plenty of room for solos and duets - also to Van Hove’s advantage. The musicians, for all their lack of agreement, have such a sense of cohesion, such a frenzy of quotation, that it seems the music is being put through the meat grinder of their imagination. The repertoire of sounds and techniques, the density and pace of development of the events and the wit of this music have no equal to this day.

Jazz in der Kammer Nr. 71 is available on double vinyl, CD and as a download.

You can listen to “Schwarzspecht“ and order the album here: