Peter Brötzmann & Jörg Fischer

Live in Wiesbaden
NotTwo MW 877-2

Theo Jörgensmann/Albrecht Mauer

Melencolia

Nemu Records 011

Georg Ruby/Michel Pilz

Deuxième Bureau

JazzHaus JHM 205

Globe Unity: Germany

By Ken Waxman

Much of the excitement in early European free jazz came from Germany as local reedists with a long marching band tradition blew with volume and intensity. Tenor saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, 70, bass clarinetist Michel Pilz, 64, and G-low clarinetist Theo Jörgensmann, 63 were part of that excitement. Recent duo sessions with partners using progressively more brawny textures show how each has evolved.

Bottrop-born Jörgensmann concentrates on the low-pitched clarinet as he did in bands like the Clarinet Contrast. The Melencolia suite with Cologne violist/violinist Albrecht Mauer is anything but morose though. While the personnel implies delicacy, staccato abrasions are mixed among melodious tones. Mauer’s extreme bow pressure and spiccato skitters avoid lyricism, and when he harmonizes string scrubs with guttural vocalizing the result could issue from a hurdy-gurdy. Capable of chalumeau coloration and clear-toned contralto, Jörgensmann balances Mauer’s jagged runs with descending tongue flutters.

Bad Neustadt-born, Luxembourg-based Pilz was part of Clarinet Contrast and played with Brötzmann in the Globe Unity Orchestra. Deuxième Bureau finds Pilz with Cologne-based pianist Georg Ruby, a master of free-form, who spends more time prodding and poking his instrument’s innards than playing the keyboard. The results contrast harsh string strumming with pressurized lowing or frenetic triple-tonguing. Rattling the soundboard and wound strings, Ruby’s textures on tunes like “Lunettes Bifocales” resonate like gongs as Pliz’s chromatic lines define the theme. The two confirm their roots with “Blues Pour Solène” though which could have been played by Albert Nicholas and Don Ewell.

Joining a list of percussionists who have matched wits with Wuppertal-based Brötzmann is Wiesbaden’s Jörg Fischer. Parrying and thrusting on “Cute Cuts” Brötzmann uses shrill reflux, ululating puffs and triple-tongued pops to merge Prussian bugle calls and Albert Aylerian glossolalia. Respite comes when the woody vibrations from Brötzmann’s tárogató are completed by woody smacks from Fischer’s sticks and rims. On “Buddy Wrapping”, the drummer’s polyrhythms match the saxophonist’s kinetic breaths, creating shuddering tension. Ironically it’s the oldest reedist who still plays with volume and intensity.

Tracks: Live: Productive Cough; The Steady Hand as Planned; Buddy Wrapping; Song for Fred; Cute Cuts

Personnel: Live: Peter Brötzmann: alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet, tárogató; Jörg Fischer: drums

Tracks: Melencolia: Melencolia Suite: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Melencolia Epilog

Personnel: Melencolia: Theo Jörgensmann: G-low clarinet, voice; Albrecht Maurer: violin, viola, voice

Tracks: Deuxième: 1. Gomme Rouge 2. Espresso Noir 3. Trombones 4. Crayon Pointu 5. Téléphone Bleu 6. Reveil Matin 7. Papier Buvard 8. Encre Rouge 9. Papier Quadrillé 10. Papier Froissé 11. Blues Pour Solène 12. Cendrier Débordant 13. Lunettes Bifocales 14. Encre Noire 15. Gomme Rouge (Reprise)

Personnel: Deuxième: Michel Pilz: bass clarinet; Georg Ruby: piano

—For New York City Jazz Record July 2012