Reviews that mention Günter 'Baby' Sommer

August 6, 2016

Festival Report

Ljubljana Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

Located on both banks of the picturesque Ljubljanica River, Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, is a pleasant city containing, unique historical edifices mostly designed by the city’s early 20th century starchitect Jože Plečnik. Ljubljana is replete with pedestrian-only areas, especially near the iconic Triple Bridge, with parts of its main street restricted to public transit and bicycles. In modern times, Ljubljana has been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, under Italian or French control, ruled by native dictators and kings and a member of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Declaring independence in 1991, Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004. Always supportive of improvised music, the Ljubljana Jazz Festival celebrated its 57th anniversary June 29th-July 2nd this year. Performances were presented in different indoor spaces and the back-garden of the multi-level Cankarjev Dom cultural centre, one of Europe’s largest. MORE

December 11, 2014

Peter Kowald

Discography
Jazz Werksttatt JW 150

Taylor Ho Bynum 7-Tett

Navigation (Possibly Abstracts XI & XIII)

Firehouse 12 FH-12-04-01-019

Hans Lüdemann

Die Kunst des Trio 1-5

BMC Records BMC CD 196

Flat Earth Society

FESXLS

Igloo IGL 257

Something In The Air: Outstanding and Unusual Boxed Sets

By Ken Waxman

As the availability of music on different media continues to proliferate, the focus of the durable box set has become equally diverse. No longer does a multi-disc collection have to be definitive or far-ranging. As a matter of fact some of the best, like the ones discussed here, concentrate on certain sequences in an artist’s career. MORE

February 6, 2014

Günter Baby Sommer

Dedications
Intakt CD 224

Philippe Lauzier

Transparence

Schraum 18

Natsuki Tamura

Dragon Nat

Libra Records 101-032

Joe McPhee

Sonic Elements

Clean Feed CF 278 CD

Emanuele Parrini

Viaggio al Centro del Violino

Rudi Records RRJ 1015

Something In The Air: Outstanding Solo Sets

By Ken Waxman

As the strictures of advanced contemporary music continue to loosen, more improvisers are taking advantage of the freedom to experiment. A parallel outgrowth is the number of players of almost any instrument willing to nakedly expose their skills in all solo sessions. Commonplace doesn’t mean accomplished however. Still the best dates, as the CDs cited here, offer original perspectives on the sounds of an individual instrument. MORE

January 8, 2014

Festival Report

Festival Jazzdor Strasbourg
By Ken Waxman

A mercantile and European Union government centre, Strasbourg is a sophisticated French city with a large university, massive fortifications, picturesque canals and a renowned cathedral. Although La Marseillaise was composed and first sung in Strasbourg it’s also part of Alsace which was ceded to Germany from 1871-1918 and 1940-1944. Overcoming this historical enmity, for the past 11 years Festival Jazzdor has included a series of concerts in the nearby German city of Offenburg.

This year’s festival (November 8 to 22) was no different. One of its highlights was Günter Baby Sommer’s Bopp-Art Percussions in Offenburg’s Reithalle in Kulturforum. Featuring the veteran drummer’s quartet of saxophonist Frank-Paul Schubert, trombonist Gerhard Gschlößle and bassist Antonio Borghini, it matched their fiery blistering improvisations with a three-man Taiko ensemble plus Katharina Hilpert’s ethic and traditional flutes which bridged the two solitudes. Although the white blouses worn by the percussionists made them look like chefs, their massive drums and gongs resonations merely spiced the program with the Sommer four which provided the main meal. The several courses included traditional Saxon marches, slinky set pieces and experimental excursions where the horns injected gospel-like and Dixieland inflections emotions into frenetic line deconstruction. Prominent were tunes such as Like Don” and “Art Goes Japan”, which honored Sommer’s heroes Don Cherry and Art Blakey. The former featured a Schubert reimaging of a Cherry head, while the dynamism of the latter was maintained as the bearded, diminutive drummer put an individualist stamp on many of Blakey’s distinctive runs. MORE

August 21, 2012

Jesper Løvdal/Günter Baby Sommer

Jesper Løvdal/Günter Baby Sommer
ILK 188 CD

Ulrich Gumpert-Günter Baby Sommer

La Paloma

Intakt CD 198

Having reached the age of 69 and with the GDR just a memory for many people, Dresden-born Günter Baby Sommer has acceded to his proper status as one of the most inventive percussionists in Europe. The disappearance of East Germany has also meant that Sommer is able to fulfill the demands for him to play with other improvisers, no matter the country in which they’re based. These duo CDs for instance, find him on one hand in the company of Berlin pianist Ulrich Gumpert, 67, with whom he has been collaborating since the early 1970s – most notably as part of the Zentralquartett – and on the other trading licks with Copenhagen-based multi-reedist Jesper Løvdal, who was born in 1969, long after Sommer had turned pro. MORE

August 21, 2012

Ulrich Gumpert-Günter Baby Sommer

La Paloma
Intakt CD 198

Jesper Løvdal/Günter Baby Sommer

Jesper Løvdal/Günter Baby Sommer

ILK 188 CD

Having reached the age of 69 and with the GDR just a memory for many people, Dresden-born Günter Baby Sommer has acceded to his proper status as one of the most inventive percussionists in Europe. The disappearance of East Germany has also meant that Sommer is able to fulfill the demands for him to play with other improvisers, no matter the country in which they’re based. These duo CDs for instance, find him on one hand in the company of Berlin pianist Ulrich Gumpert, 67, with whom he has been collaborating since the early 1970s – most notably as part of the Zentralquartett – and on the other trading licks with Copenhagen-based multi-reedist Jesper Løvdal, who was born in 1969, long after Sommer had turned pro. MORE

April 1, 2012

Günter Baby Sommer

Melting Game
Jazz Werkstatt JW 101

André Goudbeek/Peter Jacquemyn/Lê Quan Ninh

Uwaga

NotTwo MW 859-2

Putting to rest – perhaps permanently –the old saw that Jazz is a young man’s game, are these two exceptional trio sessions. Each of them feature musicians, who, with the exception of Belgian bassist Peter Jacquemyn, who is 49 and counting, features musicians who will never see 50 again, let alone 20. At the same time each set reaches its sonic zenith in a different way. Uwaga is an unbridled exercise in super-intense Energy Music while Melting Game encompasses 10 compositions which refer as much to the ongoing Jazz tradition as futuristic experimentation. MORE

January 8, 2011

JazzWerkstatt

Berlin-New York Festival
By Ken Waxman

Berlin came to Brooklyn with a bang on the weekend of November 26 to 28, with eight different bands from the German capital played at the Irondale Cultural Center. Much of that bang – not to mention ruffs, rolls and rebounds – came from Günter Baby Sommer, Michael Griener and Christian Lillinger – three of Germany`s top percussionists, each featured with several bands. At the same time terrific Teutonic technique wasn`t restricted to drummers. The festival exposed New Yorkers to a cross-section of Berlin`s best improvised music from elder jazz statesmen and innovative younger players alike, who record in the main for the JazzWerkstatt label. MORE

June 28, 2010

Ulrich Gumpert/Günter Baby Sommer

Das Donnernde Leben
Intakt CD 169

Long-time confreres and one-half of Zentralquatet, the most accomplish jazz band to arise from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) – not that there was much competition – pianist Ulrich Gumpert and percussionist Günter Baby Sommer occasionally perform as a duo. Both sly composers as well as notable improvisers, this duo work, which was first recorded by FMP in 1973, reveals an unique facet of the men’s music.

Das Donnernde Leben’s 11 tracks sturdily confirm that truism. For it’s here that Gumpert, whose larger band arrangements feature an original take on the advances of activist composers like Charles Mingus; and Sommer, whose percussion prestidigitation is such that he’s worked with avatars as different as American pianist Cecil Taylor and French multi-reedist Sylvain Kassap, express several more identities. Firstly the two committed Free Musicians reveal tactics and trick that play up their ties to the on-going jazz tradition, which in Gumpert’s case stretches back through Taylor to Bobby Timmons, Ahmed Jamal and Earl Hines; and in Sommer’s from Art Blakey and Max Roach to his namesake “Baby” Dodds. MORE

February 21, 2010

Günter Baby Sommer

Live in Jerusalem
Kadima Collective KCR 19

Ulher/Shibolet/Snir/Brenner/Mayer/Smith/Bymel

Yclept

Balance Point Acoustics BPA 014

Fraught with extra-musical baggage, the idea of a co-operative session between German and Israeli improvisers seems bizarre. Yet, as these first-rate CDs demonstrate, commitment to free-form experimentation and open-minded sound extension overcomes any number of polemics. The only people who likely will be surprised, shocked or offended by such cross-cultural understanding are those whose ignorance of Middle Eastern realpolitik is likewise endemic. MORE

February 11, 2010

David Murray

Live at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club
Jazzwerkstatt JW 073

Peitzer Grand

Mit Vieren

Jazzwerkstatt JW 077

Thirty-odd years make a big difference in the improvised music scene, both in Europe and North America. In fact, one wonders if any of the participants on these two fine live CDs – not to mention the associated audience members – could have imagined the altered musical and political landscape of the future.

In that timeframe, as is proven by many of the tracks on Live at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club, it was the so-called avant-gardists in New York who were celebrating jazz’s past while contemporary players stuck to Bop and Fusion sounds. Meanwhile, as Mit Vieren demonstrates, the gap between East and West Germany was still a formidable chasm. That era’s version of political correctness made it necessary for even advanced German jazz combos to include foreign musicians among the players to ensure no band consisted of only participants from both sides of the Wall. MORE

February 11, 2010

Peitzer Grand

Mit Vieren
Jazzwerkstatt JW 077

David Murray

Live at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club

Jazzwerkstatt JW 073

Thirty-odd years make a big difference in the improvised music scene, both in Europe and North America. In fact, one wonders if any of the participants on these two fine live CDs – not to mention the associated audience members – could have imagined the altered musical and political landscape of the future.

In that timeframe, as is proven by many of the tracks on Live at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club, it was the so-called avant-gardists in New York who were celebrating jazz’s past while contemporary players stuck to Bop and Fusion sounds. Meanwhile, as Mit Vieren demonstrates, the gap between East and West Germany was still a formidable chasm. That era’s version of political correctness made it necessary for even advanced German jazz combos to include foreign musicians among the players to ensure no band consisted of only participants from both sides of the Wall. MORE

January 7, 2009

Zentralquartett

Auf der Elbe schwimmt ein rosa Krokodil
Intakt CD 142

Ulrich Gumpert

Workshop Band

Jazzwerkstatt JW 070-01/070-02

Maybe it could have been called The Great Unknown. Certainly the American focus of improvised music until the last century’s last couple of decades meant that some of the most exciting sounds extant were unknown and literally unheard by many people who should have known better.

Case in point: East German pianist/composer/arranger Ulrich Gumpert. During the 1970s, as these two exceptional sessions demonstrate, with his small group Synopsis – later renamed Zentralquartett – and his Workshop Band, the Berlin-based pianist was making music that was in many cases superior and definitely equal to any American sounds. Unfortunately Gumpert and his associates labored under a double whammy. Not only were they playing in Europe – which for Yank jazzbos of the time was no more than a destination for out-of-work American legends – but they doing so in the Eastern Block when the Berlin Wall and the Cold War were still part of everyday life. MORE

January 7, 2009

Ulrich Gumpert

Workshop Band
Jazzwerkstatt JW 070-01/070-02

Zentralquartett

Auf der Elbe schwimmt ein rosa Krokodil

Intakt CD 142

Maybe it could have been called The Great Unknown. Certainly the American focus of improvised music until the last century’s last couple of decades meant that some of the most exciting sounds extant were unknown and literally unheard by many people who should have known better.

Case in point: East German pianist/composer/arranger Ulrich Gumpert. During the 1970s, as these two exceptional sessions demonstrate, with his small group Synopsis – later renamed Zentralquartett – and his Workshop Band, the Berlin-based pianist was making music that was in many cases superior and definitely equal to any American sounds. Unfortunately Gumpert and his associates labored under a double whammy. Not only were they playing in Europe – which for Yank jazzbos of the time was no more than a destination for out-of-work American legends – but they doing so in the Eastern Block when the Berlin Wall and the Cold War were still part of everyday life. MORE

October 19, 2007

EUPHORIUM_freakestra

2 Trios & 2 Babies
EUPHORIUM Records EUPH 009

Wadada Leo Smith/Günter Baby Sommer

Wisdom in Time

Intakt CD 128

Nicknamed “Baby” by an early reviewer, who likened his playing to that of traditional New Orleans drummer Baby Dodds, East German percussionist Günter “Baby” Sommer shares his namesake’s instrumental inventiveness. But as these sessions prove, he isn’t limited by anyone’s definition of jazz or improvised music.

Interestingly enough, the CDs are almost the converse of one another – Wisdom in Time is reductive, while 2 Trios & 2 Babies is augmentative. Both those adjectives relate to the personnel rather than the music however. The first features Dresden-based Sommer improvising alongside sympathetic American trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. The reductive part comes about because the two were initially part of a trio with the late bassist Peter Kowald, memorialized on the track “Brass-Star Hemispheres”. MORE

October 19, 2007

Wadada Leo Smith/Günter Baby Sommer

Wisdom in Time
Intakt CD 128

EUPHORIUM_freakestra

2 Trios & 2 Babies

EUPHORIUM Records EUPH 009

Nicknamed “Baby” by an early reviewer, who likened his playing to that of traditional New Orleans drummer Baby Dodds, East German percussionist Günter “Baby” Sommer shares his namesake’s instrumental inventiveness. But as these sessions prove, he isn’t limited by anyone’s definition of jazz or improvised music.

Interestingly enough, the CDs are almost the converse of one another – Wisdom in Time is reductive, while 2 Trios & 2 Babies is augmentative. Both those adjectives relate to the personnel rather than the music however. The first features Dresden-based Sommer improvising alongside sympathetic American trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. The reductive part comes about because the two were initially part of a trio with the late bassist Peter Kowald, memorialized on the track “Brass-Star Hemispheres”. MORE

November 14, 2006

Peter Brötzmann

Alarm
Atavistic ALP257CD

Brötzmann/Mangelsdorff/Sommer
Pica Pica
Atavistic ALP258CD

Two more valuable CD reissues of Wuppertal, Germany-based saxophonist Peter Brötzmann’s work for FMP in the 1980s once again show his versatility. One disk offers proof positive that the hard-driving reedist can easily hold up his side in an all-star trio configuration, while the other shows how he helps spark aural fireworks in a nonet situation.

Ironically the aptly-named Alarm almost ended up being more than a fanciful “blast from the past”. This Hamburg radio gig with a multi-national cast of nine Free Jazzers had to be interrupted after the 40 odd minutes captured on the disc were recorded because a phoned-in bomb threat meant that the audience, technicians and musicians had to quickly evacuate the hall. MORE

May 30, 2006

Zentralquartett

11 songs - Aus teutschen landen
Intakt

By Ken Waxman
May 30, 2006

Probably the most innovative band to arise from the German Democratic Republic – that is the former East Germany – members of Zentralquartett dealt with unique circumstances before the Berlin Wall fell. Although operating in a pseudo-Stalinist culture that promoted so-called Socialist Realism, the band had government support as often as repression, since jazz was as seen as both anti-racist and as a slap at nationalism with its Nazi-era echoes. MORE

September 7, 2005

Another Memorable Total Music Meeting

for CODA

Gradually returning to fiscal health – its artistic vigor has never been in doubt – the 37th annual Total Music Meeting will take place November 3 to November 6 at the Berlinische Galerie Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur in Berlin’s now fashionable Kreuzberg.district. Concerts begin at 8 pm and feature three to four performances each night.

Although the program has not yet been officially announced, participants definitely include British saxophonists John Butcher and Evan Parker; Americans like trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and drummer Gino Robair, the Loos ensemble from the Netherlands; the trio of Swiss saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, American bassist Barre Phillips and French pianist Jacques Demierre and German musicians like trumpeter Axel Dörner, drummer Günter Baby Sommer and multi-reedist Wolfgang Fuchs. Attendance per night is usually in the 300 person range. MORE

July 25, 2005

Northern Sun, Southern Moon, Europe’s Reinvention of Jazz

By Mike Heffley
Yale University Press

By Ken Waxman
July 23, 2005

Gifted with an imaginative thesis – the migration of innovative free music from the African-American community of the United States and its adoption and mutation by Europeans – Mike Heffley’s book encompasses interviews, analysis, musicology and philosophical concepts. Unfortunately, the academic emphasis makes some of it a hard slog for the lay reader. Often non-linear, as benefits a book on Free Jazz, the narrative is so discursive at points that it resembles those John Coltrane solos where the variations so outdistanced the theme as to almost make the head an afterthought. MORE

May 12, 2003

BAUER/KOWALD/SOMMER

Between Heaven And Earth
Intakt CD 079

Strangely prophetic in its title, BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH, is the second and final CD of this particular trio, recorded about 10 months before the sudden death of bassist Peter Kowald at 58.

It was only one of the many projects involving the peripatetic bassist, who over the years had expanded his reach from being a German Free Jazz player to someone as comfortable playing with Asian traditional instrumentalists as American downtowners. But in the mixed-up mosaic of Continental politics, this German trio was unique on its own. MORE

September 23, 2002

SOMMER/KASSAP/LEVALLET

BIB
FMP CD 51

Arguably one of the most impressive -- and certainly one of the longest lasting and least bellicostic -- German-French collaboration of the mid-20th century, BIB harkens back to a time when trans-border musical groups combos were a lot more common than economic or political ones.

Recorded a decade ago at Berlin’s Workshop Freie Musik, the CD features almost 52 minutes of instant composition by two French players and a drummer who had just recently stopped being an East German. Despite walls and ideologies, the trio had actually got together about 10 years before that and exists to this day. MORE

October 8, 2001

BAUER/GUMPERT/PETROWASKY/SOMMER

Zentralquartett
Intakt CD 069

Saying this is an outstanding disc by an all star group of East German improvisers may sound like faint praise to the American-centred jazz world. But in truth, just as the music long ago became a universal language, so its major practitioners are no longer born under The Star Spangled Banner.

East German jazz may still sound like an oxymoron, when the average Westerner identifies the former German Democratic Republic with the Berlin wall and a bleak and isolated neo-Stalinist regime. But implicit in the former Socialist state was government support for conservatories and small clubs that gave musicians of all stripes a place to play. MORE