Dieter Glawischnig & Friends

Izk CD 015

New Old Luten Quintet


Euphorium Records EUPH 052

Harth/Seidel/Spera/Van der Plas


Plus 087

Old Free Jazzers never die, they don’t even fade away. What they do, as these CDs indicate, is follow new musical paths. Like pedigreed commodities crossbred with other products, it appears that veteran improvisers can reunite with old associates to uncover variations of mutual musical concepts; demonstrate the timelessness of their conceptions by hooking up with younger improviser; or use contemporary sound language to express their ideas in a novel fashion.

Graz, Austria-born pianist Dieter Glawischnig, 78, for instance, is a composer, Jazz educator, was leader of the NDR Big Band for a quarter-century, which at points featured musicians such as trombonist Conny Bauer and violinist Andreas Schreiber, and also leader of small bands which played with the likes of saxophonists Anthony Braxton, Fred Anderson, bassist Ewald Oberleitner and Vladimir Chekasin plus drummer Vladimir Tarasov. This 14-track CD salute, which unrolls like an historical newsreel, includes appearance from Bauer, Schreiber, Chekasin, Oberleitner and Tarasov as well as the honoree, his son, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and tenor saxophonist Gerd Dudek, who Glawischnig the elder had worked with on other projects. Recorded three months after his real birthday, the CD could also be compared to a bio-pic, with the protagonists creating their versions of past musical moments.

Composed by others, the CD’s first eight numbers are revitalizations of 1970s sounds. Introduced by Bauer’s buzzing multiphonics, which extend the instrument’s range as if turning from a flat surface to 3D, the extensions and variations which combine during “12, 123, 12345”, “Green Table Speech” and “Young Play” are the equivalent of aural wall hangings which rendered images into large than life pictures. Bauer’s distinctive plunger tones are soon joined by Ascension-era lengthy and segmented blasts from the two saxophonists in tandem; guitar-like continuum from the bassists; the fiddler’s high-pitched spiccato with near-human cries; multi-directional drum beats and more contemporary organ-like shudders from the synthesizers. Glawischnig’s presence is most obvious as Conservatory-like allusions and colorations float through the sonic miasma. Tarasov’s “Atto 4”, with its intimation of a renegade brass band strutting along a boulevardier personified by Bauer’s slide manipulations. Meanwhile, his own tune, “Liad Fira Madl”, finds Dudek’s slurry melody contrasting with the pianist’s delicate chording for a mixture of martial and romantic sounds. From that point on, the formal composer/big band arranger side of Glawischnig comes to the fore, like a film’s picture shifting from hard-edged black and white to sumptuous color. A series of six Glawischnig originals, the tracks totter from the composer’s Conservatory-like formalism to free interludes expressed through Schreiber’s triple tremolo stroking, parallel bass patterns and scratched and shrill split tones from the horns which proceed to goose the excitement level. Finely finessed on their own, and especially in the concluding “Pattern” that is invested with an infectious groove, the sounds swing but aren’t as raw as the earlier section. Birthday rightly celebrates Glawischnig’s varied talents, but when stacked up against the improvising of other soloists, confirm that his commitment to free music was only part of his identity.

As different as Germany is from Austria – perhaps – is another veteran performer, alto saxophonist/clarinetist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, 83, who has stayed true to the Free Jazz credo. One of the pioneers of advanced music in the DDR during the 1960s and 1970s, and someone who has had an association with trombonist Bauer since that time, Krawall finds the reedist as part of quintet whose members are four or five decades younger than him. Yet like hockey player active in the Old-timers League playing with contemporary pros, there’s no divide between his soloing and the others. A single nearly 30-minute slab of improvisation the track is built up from the dynamic power chords of dual bassists John Edwards and Robert Landfermann, rhythmic smacks and daubs from drummer Christian Lillinger and kinetic keyboard rumbles from pianist Elan Pauer. As Petrowsky’s output on either horn, ranging from the pinnacle of dog-whistle-like cries to near bugle-pitched calls, is in the centre of this avant-garde circus, the other rings not only showcase extended drum rolls for added excitement, but cries, yelps, pops, thumps and crackles from Pauer’s so-called little instruments suggesting the noise and activities of clowns, wild animals, trapeze acts and jugglers. A dramatic high point is reached at the mid-point as the pianist’s kinetic glissandi begin a dialogue with the reedist’s altissimo screams, finally resolved into snatches of Ornette Coleman-influenced melody. Like the sound of small animals digging in the ground, the pulsations created by Edwards and Landfermann exploring their instruments’ lowest regions signal a change to straight time during the final minutes of “Krawall”, with Petrowsky’s tone likewise becoming lower-pitched renal. The improvisational triumph is how buoyantly the contrapuntal lines from each musician complement without clashing like layers in a multi-flavored cake.

Youngest of the three innovators is German multi-instrumentalist Alfred 23 Harth. Now 67, Harth, associated with the Frankfurt am Main scene as early as the mod-1960s, has lived in Seoul since the beginning of the century. As Malcha demonstrates, like a back shop tinkerer who expands into constructing more elaborate technology, Harth has expanded his Free Music roots to take in Rock beats, notated compositions in many idioms and spends much of his time involved with electronic processing and remixing. With acoustic bedrock, the CD’s six tracks encompass wave forms generated from Wolfgang Seidel’s Buchla Music Easel, prepared guitar, vibraphone, percussion and Nicole van den Plas’s piano, zither, balalaika, kalimba, whistling and voice. With Harth playing a variety of reed instruments and Fabrizio Spera on drums and percussion, the pieces jump between what could be the soundtrack to a robotic hoedown or free-form exotica. “Send a Revolver the Night Before the Interview” is the only track where Harth’s slurping sax tone are on display and ends with an acoustical reed solo standing out like an elevated place marker among the bubbling oscillations and grinding sonic craters that make up the geography of the track. Exotica of the percussion, vocal and motor-driven variety is more common throughout, with aviary cries and mumbles in incomprehensible languages as generic as kettle-drum-like smacks, staccato string thuds and processing in defining the tunes. The extended “Ceremony behind Buddha's Garden” is the defining track which combines all these elements. Squealing riffs from a prepared guitar are interspaced among screaming vocal- and jarring wave form- oscillations and rebound in a manner reminiscent of music for a Korean horror flick. But the gurgle and whirls open up mid-way through, to highlight jagged reed nips which pierce the sonic drapery like a sharp knife in a slasher film. With a uniform drum beats providing a continuum, this dual between whispered human-like voices and glittery processes come to head, But like the feeling of dread left unresolved by the enigmatic conclusion of a terrifying movie, the idea that the program could begin again with the same intensity remains hanging.

Each of these veterans has worked out novel variations of how to keep Free Music –and themselves – lively and innovative decades after they first played it.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Birthday: 1. Traumtänzer 2. 12, 123, 12345 3. Green Table Speech 4.Young Play 5. Atto 3 6. We Come On First 7. Herbstwind 8. Atto 4 9. Liad Fira Madl 10. Solidaritätslied Nr.2 11. Ostinato 12. My Own Song 13. A Lied 14. Pattern

Personnel: Birthday: Conny Bauer (trombone); Vladimir Chekasin (alto saxophone, synthesizer); Gerd Dudek (tenor saxophone); Dieter Glawischnig (piano); Andreas Schreiber (violin); Ewald Oberleitner Hans Glawischnig (bass); Vladimir Tarasov (drums)

Track Listing: Krawall: 1. Lutens letzter Krawall!

Personnel: Krawall: Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky (alto saxophone and clarinet); Elan Pauer (piano, percussion and little instruments); John Edwards and Robert Landfermann (bass) and Christian Lillinger (drums and percussion

Track Listing: Malcha: 1. Gate 2 Not 2. Ceremony behind Buddha's Garden 3. Begum of Oudh 4. Resilient Cup of Crushed Diamonds 5. Send a Revolver the Night Before the Interview 6. Delhi Green Mousse

Personnel: Malcha: Alfred 23 Harth (soprano, tenor saxophones, dojirak, voce); Wolfgang Seidel (Buchla Music Easel, prepared guitar, vibraphone, percussion)’; Nicole van den Plas (piano, zither, balalaika, kalimba, whistling, voice); Fabrizio Spera (drums, percussion)