Monday, August 31, 2020

Full Blast - Farewell Tonic (Trost, 2020)

Giving a Viking funeral to a much loved New York City venue for improvised and experimental music was the great free jazz ensemble Full Blast, consisting of Peter Brötzmann on reed instruments, Marino Pliakas on electric bass and Michael Wertmüller on drums. They tear through a short sweet set that is given five sequentially numbered marking points. "Farewell Tonic 1" lifts off with the power of a Falcon Heavy rocket, as Brotzmann envelops the club in sheer gales of raw saxophone sound, aided by booster rockets of pummeling drums and scouring bass. The full group arrives at a free improvisation that is harrowing, yet remarkably clear and well integrated. No matter how savage the music may be the three musicians are completely locked in and focused, with Brotzmann taking unaccompanied solos of stark beauty amid the feverish interplay. The full trio returns to group spontaneous improvisation around the mid point of the track, embracing a unique dynamic free improvisation that would carry them through the remainder of the performance, allowing space for a thunderous drum feature that is woven into the groups distinctive fiery improvisation and leads to a nearly apocalyptic conclusion. "Farewell Tonic 2" fades in on Brotzmann in mid flight on tenor saxophone with torrential bass and drums folding into the fervor and continuing to evolve, building intense heat like a musical furnace or crucible and creating a gritty, industrial texture. Brotzmann switches to a different reed instrument for ""Farewell Tonic 3," achieving a mysterious and exotic tone. Low quiet tones are a marked change from the previous tracks to the point you can hear people talking in the background. This changes as the drums enter and Brotzmann's playing becomes more feverish, creating piercing sounds over an increasingly loud avalanche of rumbling drums. With the bass becoming more pronounced, the music evolves into a torrid and thrilling free improvisation taken at an astonishing pace, seemingly headed for self immolation. "Farewell Tonic 4" has everyone going flat out from the beginning, with crashing drums howling reeds and bubbling bass creating a cascading flow of music. Continually doubling the speed and expanding the scope of their improvisation, the group threatens to bid adieu to the building by simply tearing it down with their incredible force of will. A short encore "Farewell Tonic 5" would be considered showing off it were any other band, as they put the hammer down, playing as fast and loud as humanly possible for a couple of minutes, enough to make any NYC hardcore band blush before bowing out to lavish applause. This band has put out a number of excellent albums over the course of the last several years, but this might be their crown jewel. Whether it is uncompromising speed, or dynamic textural shifts, they are able to weave it all together with grace and supreme control. Farewell Tonic -

Send comments to Tim.