Friday, November 18, 2016

Schlippenbach Trio - The Warsaw Concert (Intakt Records, 2016)

The trio of Alexander von Schlippenbach on piano, Evan Parker on tenor and soprano saxophones and Paul Lovens on drums is one of the most famous and longstanding of the European free jazz groups. They have been playing together for decades, yet each concert or recording seems to be a new adventure, and they never fall into established roles or patterns. This particular concert was recorded on October 16, 2015 in Warsaw, and shows the trio in an inspired form, playing a collectively improvised free improvisation entitled "Warsaw Concert" for over fifty minutes of truly inspired music and then following that with "Where Is Kinga?" which is a brief and witty encore. The free improvisations develop material which has crystallized over the years, but never falls into a predictable rut. The musicians agree on no plan in advance, and nothing was discussed or decided, allowing a tabula rasa or blank slate that can be approached without preconceived notions. Everything improvised, and while there may be hints of particular jazz melodies, they should not be thought of as quotations. They are a reference points to the trio's history, which create contrasts and juxtapositions while also serving as an springboard for further development since the music is played continuously, without planned breaks. Although the band has already accomplished so much it is heartening to hear them continuously seeking new vistas to explore. von Schlippenbach's liner notes hint that the band will continue (with some reticence, perhaps?) Although he does note that the music they perform has an anti-depressant effect (not only for the musicians themselves, but for their fans as well) but there is a hint of autumnal sadness, though he writes that they will soldier on and in December they will be embarking upon a series of winter performances. Regardless of the future of the group, we must return full circle to the disc at hand. Regardless of any reservations the musicians may have held, this recording is another powerful document that deserves to be heard by a wide range of progressive jazz fans. The Warsaw Concert - amazon.com

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