Blechbaragge

Wir Blasen Euch Den March!
Boomslang Records BOOM0507

Ebullient without being elementary and moving to a powerful beat without abandoning improvisational brains, the Austrian Blechbaragge trio demonstrates how much can be done with just three instruments: percussion, reeds and tuba. Essentially the group adds the rhythmic investigations of Alfred Vogel, who has recorded with the likes of Peter Evans and Barry Guy, to that of two founding members of the established Austrian so-called New Folk band, Holstuonarmusigbigbandclub: tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Andreas Broger and tuba player Joe Bär, both of whom also play in other configurations.

Basically, although all three contribute to the elaboration of the CD’s eight tunes, it’s Broger who is most often centrestage. He composed five of the eight tracks, sometime extends his sounds with gadgets, and with Bär frequently taking the double bass role and Vogel’s chings and pop as often felt as heard, the frontline role is his. Not that he abuses it, but his ectoplasmic excitement is evident as early as the first track, “Mother Earth”. Conceived in a miasma of swirling tenor saxophone tones, braying tuba burbles and tick-tock drum beats, whole textures are swallowed and regurgitated as reed snarls and brass screams are stratified into a pseudo-march, propelled by scratching on wooden African-linked percussion and completed by the percussionist’s rhythmic hand-clapping. Breaking up the program at points with coloratura clarinet puffs and soft-pedaled tuba gusts, the trio shows that its creations can be tender as well as tough. They do lose focus briefly on “Phil’s Song” though, where the Caribbean groove seems more fat than firm and Broger’s saxophone elaboration appear to drift into Grover Washington territory, More pertinent are tracks such as “Wumm Papah” and “Open Piece”, both of which benefit from Vogel’s pinpointed rhythm sense. The former showcases Broger’s crying split tones and Bär’s vibrating tonguing that brings out the paced continuum and solo virtuosity; the latter is nearly a cha cha, with the terpsichorean affiliations as much from horn cackles as drum raps.

The braggadocio associated with the title of the final track, “Make Me Great” is actually justified by the performance. Freewheeling, the tuba’s plunger snorts and pumps are matched by saxophone snorts and burbles and drumming clip-clops that introduce a New Orleans Second Line beat to the Austrian countryside. As the piece riffs to a conclusion, it reflects the exuberant start of the disc.

For non-German speakers this trio’s name may be a little odd and the disc title even stranger. But the music is fine.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Mother Earth 2. Gofa 3. Wumm Papah 4. Open Piece 5. Menuett in D-Moll 6. Phil's Song 7. Grund Gewaex 8. Make Me Great

Personnel: Andreas Broger (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Joe Bär (tuba) and Alfred Vogel (drums and percussion)