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Monday, September 3, 2012

Brötzmann Week Prologue

Editor's note: Today we are kicking off a week long celebration of free jazz legend Peter Brötzmann, who has been highly prolific in releasing a high-quality of recordings in recent months.


“The body is an important part of my music. I like to go as far as possible with the music, my body, and my thinking – if action with all three fit together, that’s a good night for me.”

When Peter Brötzmann started out in the 1960s to play his music, times were really hard for free jazz, especially in Europe. There were often very few gigs and Brötzmann, who is also a great visual artist, sometimes thought of giving up music. Then, nobody could have anticipated that he would become a real legend - partly for his stamina but also for unwillingness to compromise, his authenticity and his vision - whose name is even responsible for  at least two neologisms.

The German author Felix Klopotek claims that fans and journalists call him “Brötzila (destroys all monsters of improv)”, although his music is much more than destroying established patterns (what makes him so unique is his sound). I even heard the verb “to brötz“ at a concert (it was something like: “Now he starts brötzing again”), obviously meaning to overblow the saxophone, distorting its “natural” sounds  in his typical “Machine Gun” style. But that’s not enough admiration: There is a club in Gothenburg/Sweden which is called “Brötz!” where you can find a so-called Brötz scale on which you can measure the loudness of a band. And last but not least there is the famous Bill Clinton quotation, who answered when asked by the Oxford American Magazine to name a musician people would be surprised he listened to: "Brötzmann, the tenor sax player, one of the greatest alive”. When Mr Clinton is right, he is right. Coming up over this week are five recent releases, all of them live recordings, when Brötzmann obviously had “good nights."