Saturday, September 07, 2019

Brötzmann / Schlippenbach / Bennink - Fifty Years After... (Trost, 2019)

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the recording of Peter Brotzmann's infamous Machine Gun album at the Lila Eule in Bremen, this trio of legendary progressive jazz musicians gathered to perform live. With Brotzmann on tenor saxophone, b-flat clarinet and tarogato, Alexander von Schlippenbach on piano and Han Bennink on drums and percussion, they created a stellar performance that ranks with that classic album in terms of intensity, but also displays all of the hard won knowledge and wisdom that fifty years in the musical trenches can instill. “Fifty Years After” opens the album with raw saxophone, ripe piano, crisp drumming sounding free, full, boisterous and thrilling, with Brotzmann's magisterial saxophone sending billowing clouds of sounds aloft met by riveting piano and Bennink's always unpredictable percussion. The music builds to a withering intensity, easily matching the ferocity they achieved in their youth. Space is made for a piano solo, spacious and crystalline, with drums framing and jostling, building faster as the off kilter duo improvisation is filled with dynamic shifts and surprising turns. Brotzman returns with withering sounds playing off Bennink's crushingly loud drums, then leaving him room to expound in open space with a massively raw and scouring tone. They come together into a towering collective improvisation that is loud and thrilling with each member full represented in the texture of their sound, weaving in and out of more spacious sections that allow Bennink to feather his drums beautifully, and support another stellar Schlippanbach piano solo. They re-group for “Frictional Sounds” with Brotzmann shifting to the exotic sounding torogato which has such a beguiling tone, with the piano and drums gradually turning up the heat to a boiling level and creating a wonderful setting. Their improvisation is fast, nimble and very colorful with Bennink using his cymbals to great effect and Schlippenbach providing showers then storms of well articulated notes. The trio shows a tremendous amount of stamina, spooling out these long and intense spontaneous performances, with Schlippenback and Bennink slipping out into an impish Monk inspired duo section, before Brotzmann returns on tenor saxophone, booting the intensity back up to a head spinning level as peals of saxophone arc out over rumbling drums and dark piano, driving the music to a ferocious finish. “Bad Borrachos” opens with some wonderful drumming, developing a fascinating rhythm that seems to be everywhere at once. Soon joined by piano and then Brotzmann on b-flat clarinet, the group builds a supple improvisation of widely varying textures and colors. It grows faster with squalls of reed, and crashing drums and piano and Brotzmann taking the clarinet to places it has seldom scene. Bennink is all over his cymbals as Brotzmann squeals with delight, pushing the clarinet ever higher in a great reed and drums duet. Schlippenbach is is given space at the start of “Street Jive” and responds with some of his distinctively dark and fractured playing in conjunction with Bannink's enveloping percussion. Brotzmann barrels in completing the circuit and the electricity really flows through the unit, coursing through a stark and powerful performance that exemplifies the significance of the music that these men make together. Schlippenbach hammers the keys in a percussive fashion as Bennink dances on the cymbals and Brotzman blows massive waves of tenor saxophone. The brief concluding track “Short Dog of Sweet Lucy” has a torrid drum introduction, then scalding tenor saxophone matching the fast pace as they are pushing things into the red before drifting to a quiet and stately finish, leaving an astonished and delirious crowd in their wake. Fifty Years After... - amazon.com

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