There is nothing nothing surprising in this live recording of three great improvisers - German reed titan Peter Brötzmann, American trombonist Steve Swell and Norwegian powerhouse drummer Paal Nilssen-Love - that took place at the Alchemia club in Krakow, Poland on February, 2015, during the trio first ever tour. Still, it is a great one. All three are in top form throughout this demanding and intense 75-minutes performance.
This trio was formed out of the continuous work of Brötzmann and Nilssen-Love since the days of the Chicago Tentet, occasionally expanding the duo format with guest musicians as the innovative Japanese koto player Michiyo Yagi (Head On and Volda, both on Idiolect, 2008 and 2010) and the Moroccan gnawa guimbri player Maâllem Mokhtar Gania. Swell is an experienced leader who collaborated before with many innovative improvisers as Anthony Braxton and William Parker, to name just a few.
Swell fits immediately to this high-octane format. He adds another strongly articulated voice as he contrasts the full-blast, intense interplay of and Nilssen-Love on the opening "Oneiric Memories". But this trio begins to deliver its great potential on the following, the completely different, 37-minutes “Full Spectrum Response” with its many shifting dynamics. After A short introduction by Nilssen-Love who explores his set cymbals, various gongs and drums skins resonating range, Brötzmann begins to explore his reeds timbral range, incorporating gentle and moving melodic themes, still, played in his typical tough manner. When Swell joins Brötzmann and Nilssen-Love, he expands the sonic envelope with his own sense of structure and melodic development. Now the trio sound as a balanced, organic unit of three opinionated individuals, enjoying this kind of immediate, constant changing dynamics and pulses. The trio develops the next piece, the slow-burning 13-minutes “Scotopia”, from three different angles, wisely and patiently the three voices are interwoven into a complex, nuanced texture. This excellent performance concludes with a return to to the full-blast vein of the opening pieces, with “Road Zipper”, highlighting the massive energy and the rich and powerful spectrum of this trio.
Krakow Nights is Brötzmann’s best album in the last year and this trio is one of his best ones in recent years.