Müller/Bauer/Fischerlehner

Der Dritte Stand
Not 061

Booklet notes by Ken Waxman

Created by three members in good standing of Berlin’s improvised music community. Der Dritte Stand not only preserves exceptional creative music but provides a sly wink to the status of innovative sound makers in our society. A six-part suite of sorts, the CD title and trio name, which translates as the Third Estate, or the common people, came about after a fellow musician noted that each player’s surname initially denoted an ancient and honorable profession.

Bassist Matthias Bauer, who has worked with improvisers like Finnish saxophonist Harri Sjöström and New Music ensembles, has a last name that translates as “farmer”. Trombonist Matthias Müller, who is in many bands including such stylists as French pianist Eve Riser, has a surname that means “miller”; while drummer/percussionist Rudi Fischerlehner, whose experience encompasses bands with Canadian saxophonist Peter Van Huffel and others, has a name that relates to the fishing industry. As common people toil uncomplainingly at these difficult tasks, so too do musicians work painstakingly and meticulously to create profound in-the-moment sounds. They also often gain as little renumeration as workers in those traditional professions. More crucially, unless the improvisation is recorded, creativity is ephemeral.

Luckily Der Dritte Stand was recorded under optimal acoustic circumstances in Berlin in the spring of 2021. Like most innovative sound ventures there’s more freedom than structure in the selectins here. But although the tracks are all cannily named with a word that ends in “stand”, some titles actually reflect suite structure and evolution. For instance, “Einstand”, the introductory track, is named for a drink offered when a new person arrives at a business. Meanwhile the concluding improvisation “Ausstand”, is titled with a word that translates as farewell party.

While the session isn’t devoted to program music, the extended “Einstand” does suggest what will be sonically attained throughout. The track opens with a tough rippling blast from Müller’s trombone, followed by stretched sul tasto squeaks from Bauer’s bass strings, with both sounds underlined by pops and crashes from Fischerlehner’s percussion set. As the trombonist squeezes buried brass growls upwards to meet the bassist’s consistent string sweeps and strops, the exposition becomes more melodic as it shifts to thicken with plump drum rolls. Finally, all three players reach a point of mutual cohesion.

This strategy is followed throughout the program’s evolution. Frequently disassociated motifs, including below-the-bridge string stops, portamento tone slides from the trombonist plus cymbal and hi-hat ringing, are organically milled together for intense tripartite communion. That established, each of the players is then free to come up with whatever improvised tropes advance the exposition, But this is done in such a way so that the suite’s linear thread is never broken. Although primarily engaged in triangular cooperation, each player has brief showcases as well. As Bauer’s twangs vibrate energetically and Fischerlehner shakes tambourine-like clangs on “Zustand” for example, Müller uses smears and flutters to vibrantly work up the scale with strained triplets. Building on swift slurs as his playing become more elevated, the line is eventually moderated with fat double bass string stops. Then on “Ausstand”, the trombonist’s below-ground buzzing and the drummer’s intermittent slaps and rattles join as the connective motif as Bauer’s shaking string vibrations slide to allegro emphasis at the same time as his staccato jabs create a contrapuntal ostinato. As the rhythmic anchor, Fischerlehner’s singular interjections are more infrequent, although the introduction to “Umstand” pulsates with vibrating jangles from claves and guiro-like ratchets

Hard working musicians, who subtly refer to creative music’s proletarian roots, the trio members demolish any charges of elitism on this disc. At the same time the breath of their ideas and skill in performance promulgated during the suite move the performances into the realm of unpretentious high art.

Track Listing: 1. Einstand 2. Bestand 3. Zustand 4. Anstand 5. Umstand 6. Ausstand

Personnel: Matthias Müller (trombone); Matthias Bauer (bas) and Rudi Fischerlehner (drums and percussion)