Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review: Peter Brötzmann Trio at the Purcell Room, Saturday, 15th November, 2008

As mentioned in a previous post – some pub band on for support. Then Brötzmann and his young cohorts Marino Pliakas and Michael Wertmüller came roaring out of the gate from the start. This was like going from zero to a hundred in about two seconds! The leader started on alto, spurred on by brave electric bass – reduced to three strings, one snapped by the hard playing, he kept on going until he was able to retreat and change the broken one. Which gave a small indicator of the sheer physicality of this trio – Brötzmann at times struggling a little over the volume generated by the polyrhythmic fury of his drummer, which gave the performance some extra bite. This was exhilarating stuff, from one of the founders of the European free improvisors, an early admirer of Albert Ayler and in his lineage – but someone who carved out his own powerhouse style many years back. I've never seen Brötzmann live before so this was a rare treat. The audience were dragged along in their slipstream almost, the sort of performance that makes fire music so demanding of being experienced live. Brötzmann switched between his horns, two clarinets – one of which looked like a metal Albert - finally ending up on tenor. Each instrument providing a different sonic angle on his muse. Because it wasn't all incendiary – there were interesting moments of contrast where he displayed a more tender side to his playing, which gave some contrast and probably much-needed breathing space. The house loved it: they had come for this and demanded an encore – which was duly given. Brötzmann delivered a nice and somewhat wry speech at the end, thanking the crowd – and gently reminding us that he hasn't been asked over here much. Probably why I've never caught him? A man still on the top of his game, surrounding himself with younger musicians who, despite their obvious reverence ,pushed him all the way. No comfort zones here tonight. One question – again, to the powers that be. Why the pub band? This country is full of musicians who would have been more challenging and served as better foils to the main act. Still, worth the trip just for Herr Brötzmann... Everything I love about 'free jazz' - energy, complexity, emotion, all caught in the moment...

3 comments:

Jazzme said...

Do you have a recording of this ?

Rod Warner said...

Afraid not - but I'm sure one will surface sooner or later. The BBC recorded all the gigs I attended at the Purcell Rooms that weekend as far as I know - so at some point no doubt a recording will surface on Jazz on 3... watch this space!

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