Reviews that mention Wolfgang Fuchs

April 3, 2011

Anne LeBaron

1, 2, 4, 3
Innova 236

Perhaps it’s the because of a longer and more genteel recital tradition, but while improvisers such as the United Kingdom’s Rhodri Davies and France’s Hélène Breschand have forged unique microtonal and multiphonic roles for the concert or Celtic harp, as far as most music followers are concerned, in North America only Zeena Parkins is involved with similar multi-string experiments. Well, not quite.

Anne LeBaron, who teaches at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, and is best-known as a composer of operas and other New music celebrating fantastic figures such as Pope Joan, Marie Laveau, and the American Housewife, has a parallel career as a harpist. LeBaron’s forays have included recordings with Jazz and/or Free Musicians such as pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and reedist Wolfgang Fuchs and his King Übü Örchestrü. This two-CD set consists of notable improvisations from eight different sessions between 2002 and 2010. MORE

February 13, 2008

Butch Morris & Ensemble Laboratorio Novamusica

Conduction 142/1-143/2
Galatina Records CD 0701

True to Butch Morris’ declaration that he wants to work with more than jazz-oriented improvisers, this notable two-CD set finds the New York-based conduction pioneer performing two new ideographic-oriented pieces with the Italian Ensemble Laboratorio Novamusica (ELN).

Considering that the eight-piece Venice-based ensemble was organized more than 15 years ago with the express purpose of researching, studying and performing New music, the fit with Morris is near perfect. Still, the second of these CDs, recorded at Berlin’s Total Music Meeting (TMM) is superior to the first disc taken from a Venice concert three days earlier. On both discs, the ELN – trumpeter Ilich Fenzi, trombonist Umberto de Nigris, Cecilia Vendrasco playing different flutes, violist Piergabriele Mancuso, bassist Andrea Carlon, drummer Peter Gallo, Carlo Carratelli on upright piano and harpsichord plus director Giovanni Mancuso on piano – operates at an enviably high level following Morris’ complex system of signs and gestures. However all concerned seem particularly energized at the TMM. Perhaps it’s because of the location, or maybe it’s because a choir of bass clarinetists – Armand Angster, Peter van Bergen, Wolfgang Fuchs and Hans Koch – joins the band for the final two numbers. MORE

October 2, 2006


Live@Total Music Meeting 2004- Facetten
a|l|l| 012

By Ken Waxman

A duo appetizer and a duo desert frame the full-course meal that is displayed in a solo piano tour-de-force, as this souvenir of 2004’s Total Music Meeting serves up a meal of memorable Flemish-German nourishment.

Long time chefs in the EuroImprov tradition, Berlin’s Wolfgang Fuchs and Antwerp’s Fred Van Hove have cooked together with or without various sous chefs over the past couple of decades. Due to bass clarinetist Fuchs’s less-than-perfect health, however, their interaction on this CD was limited to a less-than-12-minute duet on “Chess!”, where the Belgian plays single-manual harpsichord; and the too short – fewer-than-six minutes –and aptly titled “Desert”. On the last Fuchs’s alley-cat slinky bass clarinet squeals are matched with Van Hove’s bellow-vibrating accordion. But the overall effect is more like a mid-course amuse gueule than some hearty end-of-meal sweet. MORE

September 19, 2005


The Happymakers
Balance Point Acoustics BPA 008

Six Fuchs
Ratascan BRD 052

Part of the accelerating interchange between experimental musicians from Europe and the United States, multi-reedman Wolfgang Fuchs of Berlin has become a regular transatlantic commuter.

Known for his leadership of the King Übü Orchestrü and the all-reed Holz Für Europa group, these discs find Fuchs heading even further out. That’s a geographic reference – for the CDs were recorded with two different sets of associates in California’s Bay area during a productive visit by Fuchs in 2003. 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

February 14, 2005


Mit dem NMUI in SO 36 ‘79
GROB 650/OBCD 10

More than an artifact, but less than a discographical revelation, this CD restores to circulation one of the Berlin-based label FMP’s few 45-rpm singles. Released in the mid-1980s, that platter contained a 12-minute selection from this concert. Restored to its nearly 78½-minute length, the full-length CD offers a peek at eight, first generation Euroimprovisers during their transition from Free Jazzers to Free Musicians.

While there are many moments of unbridled excitement and tongue-in-cheek humor here, the rational for releasing the truncated single is obvious as well. Sounding most of the time like participants in a high-class House Rent party, there are points at which it seems that the musicians really do play whatever comes into their heads. Lacking focus and clarity, you have to hear the disc as a particularized soundscape of its time -- 1979 -- and place -- Berlin. MORE

July 26, 2004


Mount Washington
Reify Recordings RE 001

Creating a vehicle in which a larger group of musicians can participate in non-idiomatic improvisation has been one European conception that has only recently absorbed in North American.

Even so, most large improvising ensembles on this continent usually draw their organizational structure from Free Jazz. That’s why this CD, by a mixture of Europeans and Americans, is so memorable. Pooling memories and experience and without relying on call and response, vamps or raucous solos work, the eight players create something that’s firmly in the atmospheric EuroImprov heritage, yet adds something of its own to the seven instant compositions named for their duration. MORE

June 9, 2003


Live at the Total Music Meeting 2002
a|l|l 007

Leo Lab CD 069

There may be more than one billion people in China, including a goodly collection of pop music stars and classical music interpreters, but so far the country has yet to produce one major -- or even middling -- free improviser.

By sheer force of numbers and the society’s gradual liberalization, that lack will eventually be rectified. But right now, at least on the evidence of these CDs, the person coming closest to the ideal is Xu Fengxia, the Shanghai-born guzheng player who has lived in Germany since 1991. MORE

April 26, 2002


In Chicago
Entropy Stereo Recordings 007

Three October Meetings
Balance Point Acoustics BPA 003

Except for misguided xenophobes, no one still insists that the best improvised music is played by Americans in the United States. Yet while jazz and improv are now as universal as soft drinks and computers, a transformation still seems to take place when foreign musicians play with Yanks on their home turf.

Take these two masterful sessions for instance. Woodwind players Luc Houtkamp of Holland and Wolfgang Fuchs of Germany link up with a different set of bassists and percussionists in Chicago and the Bay area respectively and produce some uncharacteristically hard-edged sounds. Houtkamp, who revels in modulated alto sax interactions tempered with electronics, comes up with a paraphrase of a midwestern tough tenor showcase on his disc. While Fuchs, whose work in small groups and with his large King Übü Orchestrü often produce sounds so rarified and vaporous that they make other restrained players appear to be creating Death Metal riffs, is upfront and in your face on his three horns here. MORE

September 3, 2001


Trigger Zone
FMP CD 117

The first question that suggests itself when faced with a self-contained, nearly 69 minute EuroImprov session like this is how do nine musicians play so quietly for such a long time? The second question is why do they do so?

Both queries can be answered the same way. King Übü's music is all about collective improvisation, not soloing, so the best way to deflect individualism is to create at such low volume that sounds merge into an organic whole.

The best parallel to what goes on here could be those immense poster-like pictures created by the masses in Chinese stadiums. Individually the portion of the illustration each person holds resembles nothing much, but when the thousands of pieces are put together, a mammoth poster results. MORE

August 13, 2001


Oaksmus om12010

Wood, metal, skin and circuitry are the components that make up Lingua. Yet what this trio of two German and one Italian is able to produce with these simple elements is convincing because the veteran improvisers play the instruments rather than letting them play them.

That might seem like a truism. But despite all the wiring involved from drummer Fabrizio Spera's electronics and Thomas Lehn's analog synthesizer, and unlike many other so-called electronica combos, you're still conscious of the human conception that goes into creating the sound. MORE