November 11, 2020
7 of 8: The Goldman Variations
Jazz Werkstatt JW 207
Moving into more expansive territory, Berlin guitarist Andreas Willers convenes a group of some of the city’s most accomplished improvisers to give life to a dozen of his newest compositions. The odd band name is because one octet member completely absent on all tracks, but considering that horn players Florian Bergmann, Nikolaus Neuser and Matthias Schubert are on side along with Meinrad Kneer and Christian Marien as the rhythm section, an appropriate number of textures are displayed throughout.
With often sardonic titles, that the tunes reflect the guitarist’s political slant is clear, but he’s worldly enough to posit that while a Goldman may be verbal shorthand for a rapacious capitalist, anarchist Emma Goldman shares that surname. Willers, who has worked with everyone from Michel Doneda to Marvin Smitty Smith, mixes his Blues background with exploratory vibrations on these ambulatory compositions. That’s why one is called “'Dance the Revolution' said Emma, who was a Goldman too”. Hurdling from a rhythmic groove at the top on it, the drummer maintains a tightened beat while the horn section splinters the theme with plunger slurs from trumpeter Neuser plus tongue stops, reed smears and snarls from saxophonists Bergmann and Schubert. Directed by guitar crunches the narrative finally turns wispy and simply blows away. Bergmann also plays clarinet and its chalumeau register is put to good use on “Grau Normal”, another jump tune, characterized by a wood-shaking sul tasto examination of double bass tones by Kneer. Otherwise drummer Marien’s march-like beats fluidly propels the narrative from beginning to end, with its climax a duet featuring brassy echoes from the trumpeter and slurred fingering encompassing sharper clips from the guitarist.
Supplementary textural shading in sequences include Schubert’s reed bites and snorting lows, hand-muted slurs from Neuser, rubber-band like twanging from Willers, Marien’s shuffle rhythms and, during a guitar-drums exposition, ticking clock like percussion beats. Some pieces have unexpected timbres too. “Die post-nationale Süßes Holz” for instance moves with a Country music canter adding Clydesdale-like hoof clops and steeplechase-like trumpeting. Meanwhile “The Modified Princess spoon feeding her spotless anthropocene”, recognizes humans’ adverse effect on the environment, Treated less po-faced than others would, the tune begins and ends with pseudo glee-club vocalizing as the exposition is replete with staccato Free Jazz polyphony, brushing against near Dixieland romps, complete with gutbucket trumpet blats, shrill clarinet trilling, two-beat drumming, guitar string slaps and a bit of German scatting.
Willers’ demonstrates his skills as a composer, orchestrator and soloist during this congenial session. Imagine what else he can create with a full octet
Track Listing: 1. Case of Need 2. Die post-nationale Süßes Holz 3. Friede den Hüten 4. The sweatshop portfolio Quorum 5. Goldman's Sack 6. 'Dance the Revolution' said Emma, who was a Goldman too 7. Always social never score# 8. The clean profits Trilemma A 9. The clean profits Trilemma B 10. The clean profits Trilemma C 11. Grau Normal 12. The Modified Princess spoon feeding her spotless anthropocene
Personnel: Nikolaus Neuser (trumpet); Florian Bergmann (alto saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet); Matthias Schubert (tenor saxophone); Andreas Willers (guitar); Meinrad Kneer (bass) Christian Marien (drums) and Jan Lukas Robmüller (analogue synthesizer)#