Friday, May 29, 2009

Brötzmann/Kondo/Pupillo/Nilssen-Love - Hairy Bones (Okka Disk, 2009)

Recorded live last year at the Bimhaus in Amsterdam, this is a scalding free encounter between longtime compatriots Peter Brotzmann on saxophones and clarinet, Toshinori Kondo on electric trumpet, Massimo Pupillo on electric Bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. Kondo and Brotzmann had performed together before in the epic Albert Ayler tribute band Die Like a Dog, so you know there's going to be plenty of energy on display. There are two lengthy tracks here, each approximately a half an hour long which allow the musicians to stretch out and explore improvisational ideas at length. On the opening performance “Hairy Bones” it was the amplified trumpet sound that hit me first, sounding a little like the wild-eyed amplified wah-wah trumpet that Miles Davis would play in his 1970's electric bands. But there is an edge of sci-fi in Kondo's playing as if he is a time traveler coming back to play for us the music of future jazz. The sound is fascinating if a little unnerving. Pupillo has an interesting role, freed from the traditional role of timekeeper, he skitters around the action, offering support and wry commentary on the proceedings. Nilssen-Love gets a fairly conventional drum solo near the end of the track before Brotzmann returns with Kondo to take things out. “Chain Dogs” begins with Brotzmann alone playing a bluesy, plaintive improvisation. Kondo slowly begins to add electrified accents and then takes over, gradually ramping up the intensity prodded from the rear by bass and drums. Brotzmann comes back in rallying with an intensifying war cry, the the full band comes together for a collective improvisation. What follows is a lengthy collective improvisation, waxing and waning through different tempos and colors. It is pretty exciting stuff, four musicians letting it all hang out and improvising in an extemporaneous manner and succeeding in making a couple of fine statements in the process.

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