Inside-Outside Reflections
Atavistic ALP UMS 255 CD

Most romantic of all musics, with the possible exception of the blues, jazz is rife with the legends of ever-more obscure musicians who recorded one or more profound statements then vanished. German multi-reedist Dieter Scherf seems to be one of those.

Advanced for its time (1974), INSIDE-OUTSIDE REFLECTIONS features a perfectly matched trio on six compositions that, at this early date, add the cunning ingenuity of European New music to the spirit and energy of the New Thing. Initially released on the possibly artist-run LST label, it’s remembered as one of the first LPs to feature a young Paul Lovens. Today the German drummer powers ensembles ranging from pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach’s trio to the multi-national Quintet Moderne. His playing was at a pretty high level then. Still, as good as his contributions are, the improvisations of saxophonist and clarinetist Scherf and Polish bassist Jacek Bednarek are an integral part of the program.

Whether he’s sounding both his baritone and alto saxophones together à la Rahsaan Roland Kirk, spinning out growling split tones in a frenzied Free Jazz style or stopping proceeding for a spectacular bit of circular breathing, Scherf seems as advanced as any contemporary reedmen of the day. As for Bednarek, his low-pitched manipulations hold the compositions together, though he limits himself to few solo bits.

His extended, resonating bass work gets a showcase on “Prozess (Processing)”, which unlike the other tracks seems to have been recorded with an audience present. Here Bednarek’s commanding strums, double bass waist and belly explorations and fat col lengo thumps are potent enough to free Lovens from the percussive role, allowing him to vibrate cymbal rivet rattles. Meanwhile Scherf verbally yowls and yells, then squeals triple-tongued split tones.

Not adverse to using spetrofluctuation or experimenting with the sort of circular breathing Lovens’ associate Evan Parker would later perfect, Scherf shows off deep-pitched clarinet tones on the title track, plus warbled split tones that hiss and howl at the same time on “Drum und Dran”, before turning to strained falsetto timbres from the baritone [!] sax. As eccentric as he would be in the future, Lovens takes this opportunity to make his drums murmur, creating his interface from what sounds like tiny cymbals rolled on the ground as well as hand drumming. Meantime here and elsewhere, Bednarek apparently humoring the other two, walks as if he was playing on a hard-bop session.

Scherf was an integral part of the Free Jazz Group Weisbaden, which recorded in 1970 at a festival in Frankfurt, whereas Bednarek was a member of pianist Michael Smith’s Warsaw combo in 1976, and took part in a trans European all-star jam in 1979 in Prague. After that … who knows?

Whatever their present circumstances – and jazz is also filled with the tales of resurrections of favored players reappearing after years out of the limelight – with INSIDE-OUTSIDE REFLECTIONS, Scherf, Bednarek and Lovens created an impressive, unjustly neglected LP. In CD form it should be investigated by more Free Jazz fans.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Innen-Außenspielgelungen (Inside-Outside Reflections) 2. Daijededa 3. Atemzirkulation (Breathcirculation) 4. Drum und Dran 5. Prozess (Processing) 6 Klänge Über Linie (Sounds Over Line)

Personnel: Dieter Scherf (alto and baritone saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet and piano); Jacek Bednarek (bass); Paul Lovens (percussion)