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Monday, July 24, 2023

Euphorium_Freakestra - Free Acoustic Supergroup (Euphorium Records, 2022)

By Martin Schray

Oliver Schwerdt’s Euphorium label presents itself on its bandcamp website as a platform for Contemporary Improvised Music, Free Jazz and DADA. Free Acoustic Supergroup is a double quartet like Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz project and consists of Urs Leimgruber and Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky (saxophones), Axel Dörner and Wadada Leo Smith (trumpets), Barre Phillips and Michael Haves (basses) as well as Christian Lillinger and Günter Baby Sommer (drums). The octet circulates around Oliver Schwerdt’s piano and Friedrich Kettlitz’s lyrics and lets the mentioned elements collide. The whole thing is not only a clash of genres, it’s also a clash of musical generations. After a performance at the Leipziger Jazztage on August 29, 2009 at the Opernhaus, the band had another the day after at Club naTo, which can be heard on this recording. So chronologically, the recording can be placed between Freakestra’s debut Ðal Ngai (2004) and Grande Casino (2018).

As to the music, the influence of Cecil Taylor on the ensemble’s imagination and structural philosophy is clearly evident on Free Acoustic Supergroup . Similar to the way the great master repeatedly interspersed poetry in his performances, Schwerdt has structured this concert with five Dadaist text miniatures that, typical of the art form, take traditional vocabulary and conventional semantics ad absurdum by satirically exaggerating the texts, especially through the use of neologisms. The musical opener “Spridiriger Feuertunkel, Tafft!“ (the titles are also in the Dadaist tradition) then begins with a classic Taylor chord, and when the recently deceased Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky enters, one literally believes to be on a Taylor Unit album from the late 1960s. Then, in the course of the concert, there is a lot of work with contrasts, not only of the already mentioned genres and the playing attitudes of the two generations of musicians. Especially the clash of density and loosening up, which the group achieves mainly by splitting up into smaller ensembles, is striking. Pieces like “Graben jetzt!, alle auf nach Stoirihondur, neun kleine Feten geh’n" are like busy anthills, where everything seems to be going wildly, but which are highly structured at the same time. This is contrasted, for example, by the trumpet duet “Chiclin Berago“ and the immediately following bass duo “Langer Brueder Feitendarm?“ before everything is brought together in “End of the Night, Enlightened Days beyond (The Golden Trio's Todeshymne)“. Quietly, the musicians grope their way into this final piece (though the term “piece“ is misleading, as it’s a complete performance that then seems to have been arbitrarily divided into pieces later on) until the horns emerge from the background, either offering solos of near-classical jazz beauty (Smith) or deconstructing the composition in an almost brutal way (Dörner).

All in all, Free Acoustic Supergroup is a very nice, unusual album that will work for fans of old FMP recordings as well as lovers of sound exploration.

Euphorium_Freakestra’s Free Acoustic Supergroup is available as a double CD and as a download.

You can listen to the album and buy it here:



Ernst Grgo Nebhuth said...

I would like to point out that Friedrich Kettlitz is not a moniker of Oliver Schwerdt.
Friedrich Kettlitz is - well - the name of Friedrich Kettlitz. Kettlitz and Schwerdt do have two moniker's together: Ra Ra Da Boff and Ribo Flesh.
But apart from that Schwerdt and Kettlitz are two distinct persons.
See also this photography of Kettlitz with Sommer.;%20Leipzig,%20naTo;%2020081213)%20%5BHohe%20Aufl%F6sung%20-%20high%20definition%5D.jpg

And not at least > thanks for the review!

Martin Schray said...

Thank you, Ernst. We corrected it.