Jörg Fischer/Olaf Rupp/Frank Paul Schubert

Phugurit
Gligg Records 033

Lurk Lab

Live at Shelter Sounds

JazzHaus Musik JHM 215

Featuring the same percussionist – Wiesbaden-based Jörg Fischer – plus two different saxophonists with the surname Schubert, these two exemplary trios confirm the individual dexterity as well as the authority of improvised music from Germany.

Phugurit is a studio session which the drummer, who over the years has recorded with the likes of saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and pianist Uwe Oberg, shares eight mid-length tracks with two sophisticated Berlin-based musicians: saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert and guitarist Olaf Rupp. Consisting of one medium and two lengthy improvisations, Live at Shelter Sounds is a concert date where Fischer is featured in the trio Luke Lab, which has been together since 2007. On hand are from Wiesbaden, Uli Böttcher using live electronics, and from Köln, saxophonist Matthias Schubert.

Tenor man Schubert, who often works with pianist Simon Nabatov plus players in Berlin, is a mercurial soloist who in this situation pushes out abrasive and staccato expositions which involve the percussionist’s hard-hitting rumbles and Böttcher’s piercing wave forms if they can keep up. Throughout “The Trouble with Honey Pumps” and “Abbreviated E.g,h.” the set’s more than 20 minutes and almost 28 minute showpieces, the feeling of unstoppable solid motion is paramount, with each powerful improviser striving to make more of a driving statement than his fellows. Along the way sound currents that move from whispers to screams – with more emphasis on the latter than the former – are on show. Despite siren-like drones from Schubert, which eventually masticate, bite and swallow nearly every tone, there are pastoral respites within “The Trouble with Honey Pumps”. Low-intensity flute-like flutters plus chords that could come from a vibraphone or harpsichord are part of the program, although this moderato exposition is soon superseded by Rashied Ali-styled thumps from Fischer and wiggling signal processing from Böttcher’s electronics. With the saxophone tones reaching a level that they start to sound as if they’re sourced from spiccato fiddling, the percussionist’s restless pounds and pops convey the solidness of the piece as it hurtles to the finale.

Even more frenetic, “Abbreviated E.g,h.” finds each man throwing aside delicacy to operate in triple counterpoint, with more emphasis on rhythm than melody. As Fischer runs through a display of smacks, rolls, bumps and other effects that almost literally turn friction to conflagration, Böttcher’s sizzling grinds and delays propel a parallel formula with both vamps surmounted by Schubert’s cornucopia of reed effects including slurs, slides, and unrestrained blowing, eventually elevated to more agitated timbres by the drummer’s cymbal sophistication. Following a sweeping sequence where the tripartite, fused excitement appears as it will never relax, the trio does just that. While Schubert’s reed bites sharpen then downturn to intermittent growls, the electronics sound envelopes warble and buzz in sympathy; finally martial, managerial drum beats drive the piece to a satisfying end.

With more subtle range in the saxophone strategy – Frank Paul Schubert plays soprano and alto saxophone – yet with more ruggedness from the third partner – Rupp’s belligerent runs can take both lead guitar and bass guitar roles – Phugurit’s eight tracks maintain knife-edge experimentation, but avoid Free Jazz engorgement. Recorded a year earlier than the live disc, there’s even a tune which sounds as if it wants to take direction from linear Modern Jazz. That’s “Swagger”, with Fischer’s linear beat variations adding to this resemblance. Nonetheless, as soon as Rupp turns to slurred fingering and Schubert to multiphonics the parameters change. Soon spewing reed timbres and speed-of-light string picking moves past mere melody as the drummer holds the linear course.

Rupp’s versatility is also highlighted throughout. Compare “Engobe” and “Rutil” for instance. On the former his bass-string clunks set the pace, with balance supplied by delicate cymbal sizzling plus soprano saxophone trills; while on the second elliptical finger-style picking angles the piece into the Free Music orbit with the saxophonist responding with tremolo split tones and a variant of circular breathing.

With more balance and less looseness than Lurk Lab, Fischer/Rupp/Schubert never reach the ecstatic height of the other trio, but they also avoid Lurk Lab’s frenzied sloppiness in execution. No matter how you slice it though, each group provides a high class variant of free form Jazz.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Phugurit: 1. Phugurit 2. Splodge 3. Engobe 4. Rutil 5. Connecting the Dots 6. Petalit 7. Swagger 8. Nephelin-Syenit

Personnel: Phugurit: Frank Paul Schubert (alto and soprano saxophones); Olaf Rupp (guitar) and Jörg Fischer (percussion)

Track Listing: Live: 1. Nosebleed Hop 2. The Trouble with Honey Pumps 3. Abbreviated E.g,h.

Personnel: Live: Matthias Schubert (tenor saxophone); Jörg Fischer (percussion) and Uli Böttcher (live electronics)