The most recent duo recording of pianist Aki Takase and bass clarinetist
Rudi Mahall, Fifty Fifty begins with a playful toy-piano-driven
jaunt written by Takase titled “Toolbox.” The next track, another Takase
composition, consists of a short, repeated tangling groove. The third,
Mahall’s first contribution, “Ein Loch ist ein Eimer” (“A Hole is
a Bucket”) begins with some abstract riffing, then falls into a melody not
unlike that on the previous track. And, except for a few tracks like the
wistfully beautiful “Rest Area” (another Takase piece), the album hops
along winsomely like this for the rest of its 30 minutes.
In full disclosure, I was fortunate enough to catch this duo playing music
from this album at the release show last summer at Sowieso. I have wanted
to review it since. The record almost never lives up to the performance,
and that rule holds true here. That said, this album does capture a lot of
that parlor intimacy. Think a stripped-down version of Die Enttäuschung (another Mahall project) with the same level of
ludicity (in terms of both play and skill), quirky melodicism, and
intricacy. Think a much more adventurous Vince Guaraldi or Monk without the
underlying solemnity. This album is quick. It is idiosyncratic. It has no
pretenses to gravity and few to seriousness. That said it is also clear
that these two stalwarts of the Berlin free jazz scene and long-time
collaborators have a deep connection and some interesting ideas to play
with. And, they seem to derive an immense joy from jamming together. One
sees it when they play live and one hears it on Fifty Fifty. Is
this the most inventive or intricate music that these musicians have
composed and performed? No. Rather, it is a light-hearted and engaging
stroll through a quirky, 1950s jazz inspired landscape. This is good music.
This is fun music. And, it is a welcome respite from the alternately
irreverently harsh and heady ernste Musik I usually spin.
is available as a limited-edition LP from Trouble in the East Records and through Bandcamp.
I love this music so very much... i wish this was available in the States.
Because I'm a poor romantic fool, i shall have to pay what is near forty dollars for the physical copy of this cute & quirky little caper of an album.
Boutique editions be damned!!!!
Music is an expensive mistress.
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