Pebbles & Pearls

Pebbles & Pearls
Setola di Maniale SM 3800

Wiesbaden meets Boston on the six active improvisations on this CD, confirming once again that ideas and skill are more important than geography when it come to creating Free Music. The protagonists here are American guitarist Jeff Platz, who has recorded with the likes of Daniel Carter and Blaise Siwula, and three veteran improvisers from the city in central western Germany which hosts the annual HumaNoise congress free music get together. They are alto saxophonist Dirk Marwedel, involved in interdisciplinary projects as well as being a HNC founding member and organizer; bassist Georg Wolf, who has played with among many others, Uwe Oberg and Cecil Taylor; and drummer Jörg Fischer, who has worked with Alfred 23 Harth and Peter Brötzmann.

Exhibiting no trans-Atlantic fissures, the four swiftly meld into a cohesive unit, propelling forward minimalist and expressive clanks, crunches and claps. Individualistic, as early as “I-4”, the atmospheric second track, Platz’s string fills encompass Barney Kessel-like melodiousness alongside hardened flanges which fit in with Wolf’s straight-ahead thwacks and contrast with tongue squalling and circular puffs from Marwedel and Fisher’s cymbal swats. Almost concurrently though, the guitarist exhibits slurred fingering sequences that lead to hardened frails and intense metallic twangs that almost seem detuned. These expositions create a responsive duo section from Wolf, while the saxophonist’s slurring variations make common cause with ruffs and clatter from the drummer.

Working up to extended last track, “II-2”, Platz’s fluid comping provide a backdrop for the saxophonist’s interlude of irregular vibrations and mouth pops that intensify when matched with hand drumming and rubbed double bass strings. Expanding and quickening the narrative with drum rim shots and clangs, the penultimate sequence leads into a finale of nearly continuous shaking reed timbres and finger-style, guitar-string elaborations, sympathetically affiliating by the end.

The sort of synchronous activity in which the political leaders of Germany and the US can only dream of achieving is second nature to mature musicians like these, Pebbles & Pearls is another indication of how musical activity surpasses politics every time.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. I-1 2. I-4 3. I-2 4 I-3 5 II-3 6. II-2

Personnel: Dirk Marwedel (extended alto saxophone); Jeff Platz (guitar); Georg Wolf (bass) and Jörg Fischer (drums)