Stefan Keune/Hans Schneider/Achim Krämer

The Long and the Short of It
Creative Sources CS 091 CD

Real-time, pedal-to-the-floor Free Jazz is the long and the short description of this CD, with this German trio proving that masterful improvising can result from the almost extrasensory interaction among experienced players.

Improvisers who also dabble in New music, bassist Hans Schneider and percussionist Achim Krämer both played with pianist Georg Gräwe in the 1970s and since then have collaborated with such other experimenters as reedists Wolfgang Fuchs and Joachim Zoepf, in the bassist’s case, and violinist Albrecht Maurer and the KHW Trio in the drummer’s. Saxophonist Stefan Keune too is versatile enough to not only improvise in n the intense fashion he advances on this CD, but in more restrained chamber-music-like settings with British guitarist John Russell among others.

This session will never be confused with chamber music however. Keune’s reed eruptions encompass frequent wheezing, crying and spitting. He engages in enough parlando interfaces with the others to suggest that the saxophone is taking a theatrical lead role in a highly melodramatic opera. Meanwhile Schneider maintains the tempo of the tunes with either swift sul tasto sweeps or a steady bowed ostinato. Criss-crossing the others’ output Krämer breaks up the time with rolls, pops, pitter-pattering, cymbal resonation and sudden bell ringing.

Parallel improvising such as this means that the saxophone’s compact unattached drone can also be the base on which winnowing double bass tones or ruffs and flams from the drums are showcased. Alternately as on “Alive and Kicking”, Schneider’s double-string stroking is muscular enough to suggest the presence of two bassists instead of one. Because of this the saxophonist has license to striate his tone even more, with reed-biting fortissimo wails, bell-shaking internally voiced false register explorations and animal cry-like split tones.

Cunning enough to be able to also improvise in a quieter mode, Keune at one point decelerates his output to curt, mouse-whimpering peeps matched by sliding and stopping resonations from Schneider and restrained hand-drum pattering from Krämer.

The bassist’s double-stopped thumps define lower-key tracks such as the self-descriptive “On the Quiet”, though this is not the sort of quiet that would satisfy mainstreamers. Instead Keune’s slide-whistle-like reed timbres and the drummer’s pinpointed ruffs, bangs and cymbal sways merely downshift a bit from all out agitato. However an extended interlude of legato style plucks and stops from Schneider could be the reason for the track’s title. Building these variations to summation, first Krämer’s rebounds and strokes join with the bass line, and then intersect with irregularly vibrated trills from the reedist. Polyphonically, additional slurred overtones echo from the horn’s body tube as well as its bell and mouthpiece.

Distinctive definite Free Jazz is the trio’s rasion d’etre and its achievement.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Straight From the Gut 2. Sing Another Tune 3. Alive and Kicking 4. In Due Form 5. Three 6. Nothing Daunted 7. On Thing after Another 8. On the Quiet 9. Offhand

Personnel: Stefan Keune(sopranino and alto saxophones); Hans Schneider (bass) and Achim Krämer (drums and percussion)