Alexander Von Schlippenbach

March 1, 2023

Globe Unity
Corbett vs Demspsey CvS CD 091

Two years before multiple releases solidified the comprehensive reach of European improvisation and just one year after John Coltrane’ Ascension, this 1966 session helmed by German pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach irrevocably confirmed that continental creative music was on the same level as what was being created in North America. Attuned as well to notated and ethnic musics as well as Bohemian theatrics, this two-track disc signalled that the improv floodgates had opened.

A 14-piece orchestra of reeds, brass, strings and percussion, the title track proclaims its originality by accenting the undulating theme with intermittent ringing chimes. That clanging is also on the second track, but there it’s tempered by approximation of Third World hand drumming. Concentrated horn vamps keep the energetic ringing motif horizontal on the first track, but it’s frequently interrupted by frenetic split tones, emphasized smears and spetrofluctuation from the likes of saxophonists Peter Brötzmann and Gerd Dudeck, as well as brassy shakes and triplet emphasized by brass players Manfred Schoof and Claude Deron. Besides the chiming, another constant is Willi Lietzmann’s tuba blats which establish a connective leitmotif when the multiphonics threaten to turn into miasma. The climax arrives just before the mid-point as the pianist’s shift to hard comping embolden future Rock drummers Jackie Liebezeit and Mani Neumeier to unleash breaks and patterns that are half Sunny Murray and half Gene Krupa. Contrasting rumbles and pops with horn mewling and screams, a polyphonic crescendo confirms the finale.

Having augured that other genres including Rock were becoming part of Jazz-improv, “Sun” confirmed that non-European rhythms were also being accepted. With half the band taking up various percussion instruments alongside the drummers, and Von Schlippenbach emphasizing clunking pedal tones, rhythm becomes paramount. But despite the pivot to replications of Indians and African beats, arco swipes from bassists Buschi Niebergall and Peter Kowald plus Willem Breuker’s and Kris Wanders’ dual baritone saxophone snorting reflux preserved the exposition’s non-ethnic motifs. Since the final section concludes with hand drumming, chiming and the pianist’s broken octave patterns, the track’s individuality mis also confirmed.

A landmark session. Globe Unity foreshadowed the multiple sound influences that are commonplace more than 50 years later. And it did so with a strong affirmation of its Jazz and improvised music base.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Globe Unity 2. Sun*

Personnel: Manfred Schoof (cornet, fluegelhorn, triangle); Claude Deron (trumpet, lotus flute); Willi Lietzmann (tuba, maracas); Peter Brötzmann (alto saxophone, gurke); Gerd Dudek (tenor saxophone, duck call); Kris Wanders (alto, baritone saxophones, zorna, lotus flute); Willem Breuker (soprano, baritone saxophones, ratsche); Gunter Hampel (bass clarinet, flute, pandeira); Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano, percussion); Karlhanns Berger* (vibraphone); Buschi Niebergall (bass, sirene); Peter Kowald (bass, small bells); Jackie Liebezeit, Mani Neumeier (drums, percussion)