Thursday, 3 June 2010

Peter Brötzmann/Die Like a Dog Quartet - 'Little Birds Have Fast Harts No. 1' (FMP)

This might speak more to my current state of free jazz enjoyment in 2010 but my favourite aspect of this Die Like A Dog marathon (67 minutes!) is the presence of one Toshinori Kondo, a trumpeter who quite frequently employs digital effects on his sound. What this does is provide a balance to the meat n' fire blowing of Brötzmann and the great, yet earthy rhythm section of William Parker and Hamid Drake. The first track is 43 minutes long and it started with Brötzmann exuberantly and/or aggressively bleating away before the band bursts in. Over the course of the whole movement it's hard to really focus as a casual listener, but I guess you aren't supposed to listen to this stuff casually. Kondo's extended vamps are certainly what stands out, being saturated in delay and flange, yet still fleeting and light. It's not like the affected trumpet sounds of Spaceheads, but used more as an accent. Sometimes he flares up and the processing distorts a bit and it has the feeling of sunlight on a freshly Windexed pane, with a minute glimpse of a rainbow refraction. Now, this band is a tribute to Albert Ayler, certainly not the first but there's nothing wrong with that. Ayler's influence on Brötzmann is profound, in terms of wide vibrato and emotive soul-baring thrusting. Kondo works as the Don Ayler, I guess. There aren't any identifiable Albert licks here, but 'Part 2' begins with the sort of melodic wandering that you'd hear in Ayler's Michael Sampson band era, though it quickly erupts into a ball of free not unlike what track 1 sounded like. This is an incredibly long time to spend in a fairly similar musical mode. The band plays, everyone is free, and at points there are solos. It's free jazz as it was in 1997, which is to say an awesome thing to behold and not bad to listen to either. Hamid Drake is an amazing master of rhythm but almost an odd choice for an Ayler-inspired band, as his drumming is much more centered than Sunny Murray (who I would think of as the 'definitive' Albert Ayler drummer, if there is such a thing). He's played with Parker for so long that they have a really natural interaction, and Parker's wild thudding provides a thundering belly over which Drake can dance. When I saw Die Like a Dog live, which I'm guessing was a few years after this, Kondo was gone and Roy Campbell was in his place. I was disappointed on finding this out, though Campbell proved to be a much more emotional player, and his passion was an adequate substitute for Kondo's trickery. The furious nature of the band means that and more deep listening elecroacoustic jazz experimentation is gonna get lost in the shuffle. Don't get me wrong, things do slow down at times -- just not for long. The second piece is a bit more subdued than the first, with a very sparse improvised melodic bit that does have some processed noteless blowing from Kondo, and an odd phasing effect - but it's too little too late. Kondo is a fascinating musician, but I can't stop thinking this isn't the right venue for him. Though Albert Ayler would certianly have been curious to explore electronic experimentation had he lived - I am convinced of that, for whatever reason. The primitive and folky aspects of Ayler's music, which emerge for me more and more as the reason, are probably better tributed in the Art Ensemble's 'Lebert Aaly', or from a tribute group not yet formed. I realise I've always filed this under Brötzmann, following the artist name on the spine, rather than the front of the CD which would put this under 'D'. It also says 'Composed by Peter Brötzmann' which sounds like a bit of credit-claiming cause if this isn't majorly group improvised, then I dunno what is.

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