|J A Z Z W O R D R E V I E W S
|Reviews that mention Buschi Nierbergall
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS ALP 247 CD
From an older generation of German jazzmen than then-tyro firebrands like Peter Brötzmann and Peter Kowald, in the mid-1960s reedist Gerd Dudek along with other key members of trumpeter Manfred Schoofs hard bop quintet joined in exploring Free Jazz.
Yet this FMP Archive Edition reissue from 1977 was the first session made under the saxophonists own name. Listening to how Dudek -- born in 1928 -- runs the changes along with his two, since deceased sidemen -- Finnish drummer Edward Vesala and German bassist Buschi Niebergall --you see why his highest profile came as a member of ex-Schoof pianist Alexander von Schlippenbachs Globe Unity Orchestra.
To put it bluntly, Dudek was a consummate freebop sideman rather than a soloist or a bandleader. Aptly compared to American hard bop tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan -- maybe Hank Mobley would be a better match -- he proves here that he can excite an audience during a live date. But as respectably as the three play, theres a certain distance from the kind of rapturous spontaneity that someone like Brötzmann has, and a tenacious attachment to their sources that more accomplished stylists lack keeps the trio out of the front ranks.
Frankly, the eye-opener here is Vesala (1945-1999). Looking in the booklet picture like a member of Supertramp with his past-the-shoulder hair, beard and round glasses he sounds more like Elvin Jones reacting to Dudeks John Coltrane. Later he would go on to record sessions for ECM featuring horn sections and guitars, but his powerful, stripped-down rhythm easily motives all six selections. Niebergall participated in the classic scream-fest MACHINE GUN, but his simple accompaniment here merely allows the soloists to have their say.
Unfortunately, despite splitting his solos among many reeds, Dudeks lead lines are mostly derivative. On soprano it often seems as if hes about to work up to a version of My Favorite Things for a Coltrane tribute. On flute his pinched flightiness could be a cross between Paul Horn recording at the pyramids and Charles Lloyd at the Monterey Jazz Festival. At various time hell blow complementary lines with the flute and the harsher, grainier shenai, often vocalizing at the same time. But the effect only reminds you of how many others have attempted the style since Rahsaan Roland Kirk pioneered it at the beginning of the 1960s. Dudeks double-tongued New Thing shrieks on tenor are zestful, but by 1977, even Brötzmann and Pharoah Sanders were tempering outbursts like that with other -- more individual -- soloing.
There are many things to like on OPEN, from Dudeks silvery flute gusts to Niebergall studied ponticello accompaniment to Vesalas workouts on snares and toms, but others have done that as well. The disc may appeal to collectors and those who want yet another shot of German Free Jazz, somewhat tempered by age. Alternately, if resolute players like Jordan and Mobley who try harder even though they never reach first rank are you thing, then there are many moments to savor here.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. H.S. 2. Kugel 3. Mira 4. Manchmal 5. Open 6. Chain
Personnel: Gerd Dudek (soprano and tenor saxophones, flute and shenai); Buschi Niebergall (bass); Edward Vesala (drums)
February 14, 2005
Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP236CD
Prime cuts of Peter Brötzmann and company at his most ferocious, the 40 minutes of music on this CD were literally forgotten until 2002 when FMP founder Jost Gebers discovered this cache of unreleased tapes in his archives.
Living up to the series title, the three tracks were recorded at the same 1969 session that produced NIPPLES (Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 205 CD), one of the German saxophonists most distinctive early sessions, that itself was out-of-print for years until reissued in 2000. Unlike that disc, British saxophonist Evan Parker and guitarist Derek Bailey are only featured on the title track. The other two highlight the reedists quartet of the time, completed by Flemish pianist Fred Van Hove, the late German bassist Buschi Niebergall and Hollands Han Bennink on drums and percussion.
Among the likely reasons that these tracks werent released at the time of recording is that in contrast to the original LP, the more than 17-minute tune with the two Englishmen sounds closer to certified, restrained BritImprov than the expected balls-to-the-walls Continental variety.
The top of the piece initially features rapid runs or laid back arco work from the bassist, rubato piano cadenzas, irresolute plinks and clinks from the guitarist and drumming thats more shake and rattle than anything you would imagine from Bennink today. Van Hoves flashing octave jumping and right-handed tremolo lines appear to share lead duties with Baileys flat-picking, with the others almost struggling to keep up. Only when the saxmen shows up does Niebergall assert himself with a buzzing output that takes on jagged, top-of-scale, violin-like qualities. Then Bennink, who could be making music with a collection of pots and pans -- so brassy is his sound -- starts to clatter away at greater volume, while Bailey retreats. Using Van Hoves high-intensity arpeggios ranging over the keyboard as backing, Brötz and Parker make like an avant-garde Griff & Jaws produced an onslaught of curved split tones. Characteristic wild gouts of overblown notes tumble from the Germans horn, and, surprisingly, hes answered in kind by the Briton. Before an oscillating bass line and simple piano end the proceedings, Brötzmann has asserted himself with long nasal yowls from his horn
Using the same rattling, metallic percussion, Bennink also introduces timbres that could come from struck wood block and hand-spanked conga drums on the quartet tracks, recorded in another studio six days later. With his cymbals quivering like aluminum pie plates, the Dutchmans playing starts to resemble what you hear from Third World junkeroo bands that find their percussion instruments in garbage heaps and trash cans. However the bassist is more energized, probably spending as much time resolutely hammering on the wood with his fists and rapidly striking the front of his strings with the bow as he does bowing and plucking. As for Brötzmann, on both tunes he works himself into an altissimo, artery-bursting fury, yanking multiphonics and irregular vibrations from his reed in a style thats half bar walking R&B tenor sax and half intestinal shrieks. It gets so that any duck quacking overblowing he exhibits is overtaken by unaccompanied renal screams, that under pressure from the rhythm sections rapid response move into a higher and more feral range.
You have to remember that this was a time when Albert Ayler was still alive and other tenor men like Pharoah Sanders, Charles Tyler, Frank Wright and Archie Shepp were playing at their most vehement. With Teutonic meticulousness Brötz seems to be going them one better.
Is this an essential disc then? Well, its different and certainly interesting, but only in spots offers more than expected. Still if youre a follower of any of the men involved --and/or need another fix of unfettered Free Jazz preserved in its rawest form -- the CD will unquestionably excite you.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. More nipples* 2. Fiddle-faddle 3.Fat man walks
Personnel: Peter Brötzmann, tenor saxophone; Evan Parker (soprano saxophone)*; Derek Bailey (guitar)*; Fred Van Hove (piano); Buschi Niebergall (bass); Han Bennink (drums)
October 6, 2003
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 232CD
ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH
The Living Music
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 231CD
Multi-reedman Peter Brötzmann always insists that when pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and trumpeter Manfred Schoof first heard his pioneering free jazz band in the mid-1960s they just laughed their asses off. At that time they played the Horace Silver-style thing. But, by the end of the decade as Brötzmann widened his circle to include other experimenters like Dutch drummer Han Bennink and worked with American jazzers like trumpeter Don Cherry and soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, his fellow Germans began to come around as well.
They began to come around to such an extent that by 1969 Schlippenbach and Schoof were recording the outside session showcased on these discs, both of which featured international casts, definitely including Brötzmann and Bennink. Since that time the pianist has maintained his free jazz affiliation, most notably in a long-running trio with British saxophonist Evan Parker, who is also on EUROPEAN ECHOES. The trumpeter, on the other hand, sticks more to a mainstream style, when he isnt writing and playing contemporary classical music.
Recorded first THE LIVING MUSIC was an indirect nod to Julian Becks experimental Living Theater group that had recently set up shop in Europe. It was also a smaller-sized version of Schlippenbachs on-again-off-again-massive Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO), with British trombonist Paul Rutherford and Bennink joining the five Germans players.
In a way its those two, as well as Brötzmann, who are most impressive on this session. The trombonist who had already worked with Londons Spontaneous Music Ensemble and GUO and would go on to play throughout Europe, is credited with the invention of trombone multiphonics. Here his avant-gutbucket tone intertwines among the other instruments, stylistically neighing in his way like Tricky Sam Nanton did with Duke Ellingtons band. Using what sound like a regular kit expanded with a marimba, a thumb piano, a massive Oriental gong and who knows what else, Bennink has more percussion on hand than Ellingtons flashy Sony Greer ever had.
Like Greer, he uses it judiciously, however, smashing, banging and thumping enough to bring the discordant darker toned instruments together. At times, though, when the pianist attacks the keyboard with particular ferocity, Bennink become even more bellicose, becoming Sunny Murray to Schlippenbachs Cecil Taylor.
However, since he began playing professionally almost at the same time as CT, Schlippenbach is more a Thelonious Monk man. As a matter of fact, his introductory solo on Tower has a pianistic conception thats definitely Monk-like. Furthermore, despite Brötzs overblowing -- no Charlie Rouse he -- and Benninks relentless pounding, the pianists nearly 11½-minute composition sounds like one of the tunes recorded by those mid-sized Monk ensembles.
Schlippenbachs cadences and arpeggios are less adventurous elsewhere, especially when Schoof, on cornet, takes the lead. Influenced at that time as much by Ted Curson and other freeboppers as Cherry, the brassmans Wave suggests The Jazz Messengers playing Ornette Coleman. Vying with swinging, foreground percussion, Schoofs solo is all flourishes, fanfares and note building, facing counterpoint from the saxophone section and Rutherfords smeared lines. Elsewhere, the British brassman combines with Bennink for exercises in free march time and otherwise -- perhaps aided by Niebergalls little-heard bass trombone -- stacks up against the buzzing saxophones and relentless percussion with elongated tones that sometimes sound like the braying of animals.
Throughout, Brötzmann is a holy terror, pumping out notes as if from a machine gun and asserting himself more than anyone else. On one occasion he explodes into a cappella multiphonics, then works his way down his horn, tossing out variations on the theme as he goes along. Although as part of the Schoof Quintet and later on with his own band and work with Lacy, Luxembourg-resident Michel Pilz would be quite well known, hes oddly reticent here. Only on the cornettists Stan-Kenton-meets-Don-Cherry arrangement of Past Time do his tart clarinet tone make any impression.
On the other hand, nearly every one of the 16 musicians present gets some solo space on EUROPEAN ECHOES, another of Atavistics FMP Archive Edition, recorded two months after Schlippenbachs CD under Schoof nominal leadership.
It seems nominal because a soon a the fist drum beats echo through the studio, by means of the dual percussion of Bennink and Swiss drummer Pierre Favre, its obvious that this almost 32-minute composition is going to be some wild ride. Appropriately named, the disc features all the player on the first CD save Pilz plus Parker and German tenorist Gerd Dudek on saxophones; Italian Enrico Rava and Dane Hugh Steinmetz on trumpets; Fred Van Hove from Belgium and Irène Schweizer from Switzerland on pianos; British guitarist Derek Bailey and bassists Peter Kowald from Germany and Arjen Gorter from Holland.
With the examples of controlled chaos that other large ensembles like New Yorks The Jazz Composers Orchestra, GUO and Brötzmanns Machine-Gun band already created, this disc is most valuable providing aural views of important EuroImprovisers early in their career. Diffident Bailey, for instance, creates some wild, almost rock-oriented electric picking here with such vigor that it overwhelms the dual drummers. A far cry from his present persona as a balladeer, Rava produces some brassy, Don Ayler-like shakes. Meanwhile the triple keyboardists seem to be reconstituted as Cecil Taylor triplets, although during the course of the piece, one -- likely Schweizer -- offers up some inside piano harp glisses, along the lines for which she would later be better known.
Another small big band session that may have been on everyones mind at the time was John Coltranes less-than-five-years-old ASCENSION. Facing off against one another with cymbals and snares, flams, press rolls and march beats, Favre and Bennink are no Rich vs. Roach but suggest Elvin Jones times two. Additionally, some of the piano chording relates more to McCoy Tyners work with Trane than Taylors. All three trumpeters appear to be trying to see who can squeal the highest in bugle range as the theme is elaborated, though the plucked bass parts -- when they surface from the din -- may be more advanced than what Art Davis and Jimmy Garrison played on ADSCENSION. Dudek, Parker Brötzmann too generate enough screaming split tones to match Tranes, Archie Shepps and Pharoah Sanders multiphonics on ASCENSION, often spitting out several bent notes simultaneously. Finally, as musical shards explode all over like bombs at an anarchist rally, the massed ferment builds to a combative crescendo, ending with the sustained single cymbal echo.
Too young or distanced to have experienced the excitement of 1960s Free Jazz? These two discs are the next best thing to being there.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: European: 1. European Echoes Part 1 2. European Echoes Part 2
Personnel: European: Manfred Schoof, Enrico Rava, Hugh Steinmetz (trumpets); Paul Rutherford (trombone); Peter Brötzmann, Gerd Dudek (tenor saxophones); Evan Parker (soprano and tenor saxophone); Alexander Von Schlippenbach; Fred Van Hove, Irène Schweizer (pianos); Derek Bailey (guitar); Peter Kowald, Arjen Gorter (basses); Buschi Niebergall (bass and bass trombone); Han Bennink, Pierre Favre (drums)
Track Listing: Living: 1. The living music 2. Into the Staggerin 3. Wave 4. Tower 5. Lollopalooza 6. Past time
Personnel: Living; Manfred Schoof (cornet and flugelhorn); Paul Rutherford (trombone); Peter Brötzmann (tenor and baritone saxophones); Michel Pilz (bass clarinet and baritone saxophone); Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano and percussion); J.B. Niebergall (bass and bass trombone); Han Bennink (drums and percussion)
December 16, 2002
GLOBE UNITY ORCHESTRA
Globe Unity 67 & 70
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 223 CD
Souvenirs of a time when globe unity meant more than the convergence of commercial or military interests, this CD of never-before-released tracks feature a small army of Euro improvisers luxuriating in the freedom promulgated by John Coltranes ASCENSION and The Jazz Composers Orchestra.
Formed in late 1966, following a Berlin Jazz Festival commission for founder/pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, the Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO) evolved over the years from this wild-and-wooly Energy ensemble to one that joined other European large groups in a concern for compositions. Besides, many might find that these two pieces, initially taped for German radio, more exciting than what came from the band afterwards.
The more than 34-minute, 1967 performance, for instance, finds the less than a year old, 19-piece GUO taking full advantage of the eras heady musical freedom. Roaring up and down the score is a literal whos who of (in-the-main) German free jazzers, some of whom like saxophonist Peter Brötzmann -- here playing alto of all things -- bassist Peter Kowald and vibist Karl Berger (as an organizer/teacher) went on to greater and more varied expression. Some like reedman Willem Breuker, trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff and brassman Manfred Schoof turned to more conventional playing. A few musicians have since died and others have been lost in the mists of time.
In a composition made up of many climaxes, ending on an extended Wagnerian flourish, and which practically knocks over the listener with its sheer power, von Schlippenbach seems to be the leader only by osmosis. Its pretty much every man for himself, spurred and taunted by a massed rhythm section of three percussionists, two bassists, a vibist, a tubaist and the pianist smashing a gong when the spirit moves him.
Especially impressive are Schoof soaring into the ozone layer with his cornet and high D trumpet, and Breuker puffing out some deep-dish baritone saxophone blats. Halfway through as well, Gunter Hampels flute and Willy Lietzmanns tuba join for a minuet that suggests a rhinoceros sashaying with a crow. Additionally, the pianist sounds best two thirds of the way through, when he unleashes some space boogie-woogie, rather than at other places where he still seems in thrall to Cecil Taylor.
However with such a large aggregation and so many short solo peeping out of the dense musical mass, at times its hard to ascribe proper praise where its due. Is it Gerd Dudek or Heinz Sauer who takes the hairy-chested, Coltranesque tenor saxophone solo at the beginning; and does Hampel or Kris Wanders contribute bass clarinet bottom elsewhere? With everyone trying to contribute his two marks worth, identification become difficult.
Three years later, with the band members hair and beards grown even longer and wilder, the Germans are joined by Czech, Polish, French, Dutch and a whole contingent of British musicians -- most prominently saxophonist Evan Parker, guitarist Derek Bailey and drummer Han Bennink. With the section swelled by U.K. trombonists Malcolm Griffiths and Paul Rutherford, the almost 18-minute piece is more brassy and thanks to Dutchman Bennink and his German opposite number Paul Lovens, more percussive. Interestingly enough, though, except for some minor guitar feedback at the top and a small circuit of protracted saxophone excavating in the middle -- which could come from any one of the five saxophonists -- neither Bailey nor Parker seems to showcase any part of what would soon become an instantly identifiable persona. Instead the -- at times -- nine brasses assert themselves more than the other instruments.
Cleaner than many live recordings, but not sonically perfect, the disc boosts the GUOs slim discography and offers a fresh and memorable look at the band in its formative, most experimental, years.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Globe Unity 67 2. Globe Unity 70
Personnel: 67: Manfred Schoof (cornet, high D trumpet); Jürg Grau, Claude Deron (trumpet); Jiggs Wigham, Albert Mangelsdorff (trombone); Willy Lietzmann (tuba); Gunter Hampel (bass clarinet, flute); Peter Brötzmann (alto saxophone); Kris
Wanders (alto saxophone, bass clarinet); Gerd Dudek, tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet); Heinz Sauer (tenor and soprano saxophones); Willem Breuker baritone saxophone, clarinet); Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano, bells, gong, tam-tam); Karlhanns Berger (vibraphone); Buschi Niebergall, Peter Kowald (bass); Jacki Liebezeit, drums, tympani); Mani Neumeier, Sven-Åke Johansson (drums)
Personnel: 70: Kenny Wheeler (trumpet, flugelhorn); Schoof (trumpet, flugelhorn, high D trumpet); Tomas Stanko, Bernard Vitet (trumpet); Malcolm Griffiths, Mangelsdorff, (trombone); Paul Rutherford (trombone, tenor horn); Niebergall (bass trombone, bass); Evan Parker (soprano and tenor saxophones); Michel Pilz (flute, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone); Dudek, tenor and soprano saxophones, flute); Sauer (alto, tenor and soprano saxophones); Brötzmann, tenor and baritone saxophones); von Schlippenbach (piano, percussion); Derek Bailey (guitar); Kowald (bass, tuba); Arjen Gorter (bass, electric bass); Paul Lovens (drums, percussion); Han Bennink, drums, shellhorn, dhung, gachi)
December 3, 2001
JOHN TCHICAI-IRENE SCHWEIZER
Willi The Pig
Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 221 CD
An Ameri-centric view of jazz has always been so shortsighted it could be myopic. In 1975, for example, the average American jazzer was assumed to be pondering whether chops-heavy ex-rockers who were leaching into fusion were "major innovators" on the level of Chuck Mangione or Stanley Clarke; while "purists" were finally accepting boppers into the mainstream so they could bask in the final sparks from that once incendiary movement.
Free jazz was supposed to be as dead as John Coltrane or Albert Ayler, banished from the history books, with the few remaining New Thingers either hidden away in academe or buried in recording studios.
Luckily, non-Americans knew this worldview was as befuddled as the U.S.'s Cold War foreign policy. Many jazz experimenters were actually teaching a younger generation of sonic explorers in universities and colleges. Others were playing regularly in Europe and elsewhere, linking their progressive ideas with those of homegrown experimenters in small clubs and jazz festivals that got along without cigarette company sponsorship.
An excellent snapshot of what was really happening in 1975, WILLI THE PIG is one long, gripping blast of unbridled free music. Like the zombies in Night Of The Living Dead, first generation New Thingers like Danish-Congolese saxophonist Tchicai still lived. And this CD proves that the freedom virus was spreading like influenza throughout Europe, with much happier consequences.
Part of two ground zero avant-ensembles -- The New York Contemporary Five and The New York Art Quartet -- a decade before, Tchicai was resident in more hospitable Europe at the time. Appropriately his alto and soprano saxophone solos here showed that freedom music could be tender as well as tough, especially when he tosses phrases back-and-forth with the bassist on "Part 2".
Co-leader, Swiss pianist Schweizer -- remarkably longhaired in the album photo -- was already a free jazz veteran, who had started to distill her own style, with its hint of boogie-woogie and blues from the heady Cecil Taylor elixir. South African drummer Ntshoko was then a constant presence on Continental sessions and the late German bassist Nierbergall had participated in MACHINE GUN, EuroJazz's Emancipation Proclamation seven years before.
Understandably WILLI didn't get the acclaim he deserved when first recorded because it was released in a limited edition of 500 and has never been reissued before now. But from our vantage point the disc can be heard as something that could have been recorded at the Cellar Café in 1965 and or at Tonic this year -- that is to say timeless
As more documents like this appear, it's becoming apparent that jazz's accepted, Ameri-centric chronicle will soon going to have to be rewritten. Not only history, but also listeners' ears will benefit.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Willi The Pig Part 1 2. Willi The Pig Part 2
Personnel: John Tchicai (alto and soprano saxophones, piano); Irène Schweizer (piano); Buschi Nierbergall (bass); Makaya Ntshoko (drums)
September 20, 2000
Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 205 CD
One of the great, lost Euroimprov records, NIPPLES could rightly be described as a supersession. Recorded in 1969, less than a year after German saxophonist Brötzmann's seminal call to free jazz arms, MACHINE GUN, it has been out of print for almost the same amount of time. Not only does the title track feature five of the MACHINE GUNners, but it adds guitarist Bailey, who with saxophonist Parker would very soon turn away from this extroverted style to concentrate on the distinctive British "scratch and pick" style.
NIPPLES' unavailability put the same hole in the European creative music discography that would have happened with rock if The Rolling Stones Now! had quickly gone out of print. Not only would listeners have been deprived of a glimpse of the Stones with such disparate folks as Gene Pitney and Phil Spector, but some of the band's best early blues playing would have been lost.
In the Euroimprov firmament, each of the men here has proved to be as important to that music more than three decades later as the Stones were to rock. Flemish nationalist Van Hove, has continued to refine his piano style; Bennink, from Holland, is still as bombastic as ever and has propelled many a free jazz blow out, as well as several large orchestras; Bailey is the crotchety grand old man of improv; Parker, a master of circular breathing, is arguably one of the most influential sax stylists in the world; and Brötzmann's lung-shredding tone is still on view anywhere from Germany to Germantown. Unfortunately, though, German bassist Niebergal, died a few years ago).
Probably the most unexpected part of the title track is how much both saxophonists sound like one another (sort of realizing that it was Brian Jones not Keith Richards who played lead guitar on an early Stones track). At that point, Parker seemed able to match Brötzmann power shriek for power shriek, intertwining sounds as if they were two snakes. The one extended, unaccompanied stop-time solo must be Brötz, however. Overall, the effect is exhilarating.
Noteworthy too is Bailey's work, since he's as upfront here with literal electric lines, as he would be in the background for most of his subsequent improv projects.
On the other hand, "Green Man", the quartet track, is quieter and more rhythm section and rhythmically-oriented. At least until the saxophonist gets warmed up. Then
It's strictly a Teutonic eruption, with Brötz exploring the range of his horn through several themes including one that echoes Albert Ayler's "Ghosts". His work forces Van Hove -- the second soloist -- to play more assertively than he does in 2000, while nothing has ever prevented Bennink from adding obstreperous percussion colors to any proceeding.
If there's a drawback to this CD, it's that it's less than 34 minute long. But if your interest is well recorded, quality music rather than quantity of sound you can't go far wrong with this session.
Track Listing: 1. Nipples 2. Tell The Green Man
Personnel: Peter Brötzmann and Evan Parker (tenor saxophones); Derek Bailey (guitar); Fred Van Hove (piano); Buschi Niebergal (bass); Han Bennink (drums)
June 17, 2000