RÜDIGER CARL/SVEN-ÅKE JOHANSSON

Djungelmusik med sång
Häpna H.2

Jazz reactionaries, who have maintained on-and-off for the past 40 years that once avant gardists aged they'd turn into mainstreamers, will be thrown for a loop by this CD. For while a few Northern American explorers may have turned more to the "standard" repertory, only isolated cases have been content to repeat older formulas.

Meanwhile a startling transformation has occurred among first generation Euro improvisers like Rüdiger Carl and Sven-Åke Johansson here. No longer the fire-breathing energy players of three decades ago, they've evolved backwards past the jazz tradition and emerged as avant folk performers. Carl, who was originally known for his explosive tenor saxophone forays, for instance, plays clarinet and accordion here, while Johansson, incendiary drummer on EuroImprov's historic salvo MACHINE GUN, has also added accordion playing to his percussion talents.

Appropriately enough, the two are now connected to an even deeper tradition of D-I-Y folk music. Where would the ideas of naturalistic revolutionaries like Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler have been without this bedrock? Furthermore, it's well known that the closer you explore isolated native folk traditions, the more distant you get from the conventional ideas of proper Western music.

This CD fits snugly into that tradition. How different in conception are these sounds recorded on acoustic instruments in the back room of a Swedish book store from early Cajun or Blues down-home recording sessions, after all? Plus the versatility of the featured players references the folk tradition. This two-man band can showcase accordion and drums, clarinet and accordion, or even dueling accordions.

Moreover, in the course of the more than 12 minute track 2, Johansson speak-sings a ditty in both Swedish and English, whose plot is as bizarre as the lyrics of any Child ballad on Harry Smith's ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC. Surrounding that vocal outburst, his subtle percussion shadings, complimented by reedy accordion swabs show that the spirit of improvisation is still as powerful for the two as it ever was. The unique clarinet-accordion blending on the next track and then on the final one just confirms this.

Neo-cons should run as far away as possible from this disc. Those interested in a peerless glimpse into two mature musical minds should head the other way.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Djungelmusik med sång 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Personnel: Rüdiger Carl (accordion, clarinet); Sven-Åke Johansson (accordion, drums, voice)