lunes, abril 19, 2010

Esto lo estoy tocando mañana #7 - Machine Gun (1968)

Machine Gun was initially pressed in an edition of 300 for the saxophonist's tiny BRO imprint with a hand-silkscreened cover. It was reissued in 1972 on the fledgling FMP label, and re-pressed on vinyl several times before a recent FMP CD issue added alternate takes of two of the pieces. This latest Atavistic version combines all extant session material (resequenced as per the original LP) and a stunning live recording of the title piece, previously available on Fuck De Boere (Atavistic, 1968/2001) and originally the International Holy Hill Jazz Meeting 1968 (CB Records, 1968). This live take predates the studio versions by about two months, and adds tenor man Gerd Dudek to the front line for a nonet performance. Also added is a cover image taken from a 1967 collage by Brötzmann; titled Schiesscheibe, it adds to the reedman's legacy as a visual artist, something which is less acknowledged than it should be (he trained as a painter and was among the European abstract vanguard of the 1960s, following in the heels of Arte Povera and COBRA).

"Machine Gun —beginning with sharp staccato blasts from tenor saxophones, drum kits and percussively-slapped basses—is meant to be played loud. The character created by the dense assault of the piece's first few moments yields to a surprisingly supple improvisation from Parker, a tenor voice carrying on the Coltrane/Rollins school and very reminiscent of Archie Shepp. He dives and swoops in and out of the distant chords of van Hove and loose canvas of basses and percussion, occasional exhortations from the front line driving him to an ever more frantic execution.

Far from the "Gymnopedies" that are his usual persuasion, van Hove prods with broken fragments, Niebergall and Kowald sawing and pummeling their instruments in a gestural display. Breuker and Bennink get into a frantic, walloping bass clarinet and percussion duo, clearly encapsulating their New Acoustic Swing Duo performances from the time. The leader is the last to solo, pushing his tenor completely into the red as the full weight of the rhythm-quintet is behind his screams and brays.

Breuker seems to be the one who heralds the infamous R&B breakdown that appears three minutes before the piece's end, part marching-band troop rally and part homage to the bar-walking legacy of Adolphe Sax. It's always been kind of a shame that they didn't carry this humorous grit towards its conclusion, for the staccato "theme is what ends up closing the tune out. Still, as massive as this music is, there's another side to the proceedings—or perhaps a left cheek at least.

Van Hove's "Responsible starts the second side of the disc, a dedication to the late drummer Jan van der Ven, who worked in groups with the pianist and Dutch altoist Kris Wanders, whose substance abuse carried him to an early demise. Initially a taut and nasty free improvisation for piano strings, tabla, bass thwack and baritone skronk (as both drummers go at it, Bennink's yells capture the exuberance of the moment), it's the kwela theme at the tune's end that makes "Responsible interesting.

The additional take has the leader on tenor contributing truly wasted single-note honking, a lung-busting blast reverberating from the concrete walls of the Lila Eule. Visits by the expatriate South African band the Blue Notes and an influx of Surinamese musicians to the nearby Amsterdam scene probably combined to give the Belgian pianist's composition this African flair, but it's a shame the framework wasn't carried out to a fuller extent.



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