Saturday, August 01, 2015

Albert Mangelsdorff - Albert Live in Montreux (MPS Records, 2015)

Trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff was considered a major innovator on his instrument, not just on the European free improvisation scene but also worldwide. He performed in a wide range of settings from solo to big band with some of the finest musicians of the era. On this live recording from the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival, drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson and bassist J. F. Jenny-Clarke join him. “Dear Mr. Palmer” starts off with bleats of brass and bass as the band joins together for some thoughtful interplay. Blasts of trombone build choppily unaccompanied in open space. The bass and drums begin to roil the music with thickly plucked bass and nimbler percussion making for a musical high wire act. Mangelsdorff again takes a solo section making eerie sounding noises before the entire trio takes the music out with a fast and hard conclusion. The length of the performance allows the group to fully explore the possibilities the trio format offers. There is a raw and forlorn sensibility to the leaders trombone on “Mood Azure” with high pitched bass and roiling drums setting an abstract foundation for the trombone to solo over. The music is kept under control, and flurries of faster playing strain at the leash in this moody and atmospheric performance. “Stay on the Carpet” opens with drums rolling and trombone stuttering, uttering high pitched streaks and streams of notes. Bass and drums join together to make for a powerful team and show that the group can turn on a dime and take their improvisation in unexpected directions. They can work in quiet whispers as well as moving dynamically to screaming louder passages. Mangelsdorff takes “Ripp Off” in his own direction, cleaving the open space with grumbling and sputtering trombone. He probes and explores the silence to see what possibilities lay there, adrift in space and time. There is a radical shift as the bass and drums move in and he even tips a sly wink to his forbears, adding a hint of swagger like he’s in a postmodern New Orleans parade. Both Jackson and Jenny-Clarke are afforded solo opportunities, which they take full advantage of before the trio ends their concert together to rousing applause. Albert Live in Montreux - MPS Records.

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