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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Peter Brötzmann & Jörg Fischer - In Wiesbaden (NotTwo, 2011) *****

By Alfie Cooke

Peter Brötzmann - alto and tenor sax, clarinet, taragato
Jörg Fischer - drums

Another Brötzmann, another Brötzmann sax-drums duo.  Another fierce explosion of sound from the Machine Gun.  But if there was ever a perfect vehicle for the muscle- lungs that is Peter Brötzmann, it has to be the drums-sax duo.  All else is dispensed with, and the sound and the fury that listeners have come to expect comes bursting through.  So forceful is it that the opening track, 'Productive Cough', which doesn't let up until moments from the end, doesn't seem like a nigh-on nine-minute attack.  But just as you expect the mood to continue, everything changes...

This is one of the key qualities in Peter Brötzmann that many people miss.  Not only is he the lungs and the guts and the gravy of full-throttle avant garde, he is also one of the most fragile and delicate performers on the clarinet since Jimmy Giuffre.  'The Steady Hand As Planned' begins with a tumbling stone falling, a rasp, drawn out and searching into eternity before the clear tones suggest something of a melody.  All of a sudden, you expect George Lewis to come in playing 'Winin' Boy Blues'.  All the while, percussionist Jörg Fischer skitters away in the background.  Gradually, they build together, the drums building their way to the front and Brötzmann leaning ever closer to an Ayleresque wail.   Before you know it, Fischer is thundering away at the toms like an off-kilter Sonny Greer against Brötzmann's Berlin air haft. And then it all goes quiet... Have they picked up their instruments and moved away from the microphones?  And gradually they fade into the sunset.

There are some Brötzmann recordings that I visit infrequently - for some reason 'Alarm' and 'Signs' have never grabbed me - but I know that this will never be one of those that filters its way into the ‘file-in-the-loft' pile.  This is gripping music, the sound that you want to pick up to find where it will be heading next.  So how does it compare to the duets with Han Bennink and Paal Nilssen-Love?  It can't be said.  Different musicians, different times, different musics... All you need to think is, does the Brötzmann/Fischer duo work?  And the answer has to be yes.

You can buy the album from

© stef


Martin Schray said...

This is exactly how I feel about this Brötzmann album, Alfie. I also think that he is a delicate player sometimes and I often enjoy these moments more than the "Machine Gun" Brötz.