Daily Archives: December 2, 2013

All About Jazz review by Florence Wetzel

CF 269Trespass Trio + Joe McPhee: Human Encore (CF 269)
Portugal is one of the most free-jazz friendly countries on the planet, and the innovative Clean Feed label is one of the reasons why. With over two hundred releases thus far, Clean Feed has been documenting the next wave(s) of avant-free music. This includes the mighty Trespass Trio, a powerhouse group of improvisers consisting of Swedish saxophonist Martin Küchen, Norwegian double bassist Per Zanussi, and Swedish drummer Raymond Strid. Clean Feed released Trespass Trio’s debut Was There to Illuminate the Night Sky (2009), their follow-up Bruder Beda (2012), and now the stellar Human Encore. The album features the trio with the eminent American saxophonist Joe McPhee, and offers highlights from the group’s residency at the 2012 Jazz ao Centro festival in Coimbra, Portugal.

All eight tunes are flat-out gorgeous, particularly the opening track, “A Desert on Fire, a Forest.” According to Küchen’s liner notes, the title refers to the horrific wars of the 1940s in both Europe and Palestine: “Those ‘fires’ have not been extinguished, on the contrary, there are more and more of them…do u feel the heat?” If not, this gut-wrenching tune will ensure that you do: McPhee’s tenor and Küchen’s baritone start off with mournful, pensive dirges that are profoundly disquieting and heartbreakingly lovely. The horns repeatedly intertwine and split off, coming back a little wilder each time. Zanussi’s bass is gentle and precise, and Strid’s skipping, rolling drumwork sounds like water on the verge of boiling. The song fades into plaintive spaciousness, and in one of those fortuitous moments of live music, a car alarm goes off and provides the perfect ending. It’s a marvelous tune, full of haunting sorrow and somber beauty.

There’s also the stunning “Xe,” which features McPhee on pocket trumpet and Küchen on bass. The tune starts off with a gorgeous bass and drum duet by Zanussi and Strid, full of shimmering spaces and colors. Zanussi really shines on this song, his sonorous plucking revealing just how much one note can say. Another gem is “Bruder Beda Ist Nicht Nehr” (Brother Bede Is No More). Bruder Beda was a relative of Küchen, a Jewish German who became a Catholic monk and was killed in Auschwitz. The tune is thirteen minutes strong, starting with a whistling, squiggling solo from McPhee on pocket trumpet, which includes more live-music serendipity in the form of a barking dog. Küchen contributes a relentless vibrating line, which incites McPhee to blast out louder and stronger. Strid creates a quicksand of rhythm that perfectly supports the others, and Zanussi’s bass is deeply buoyant, propelling the group with a fast-forward motion. As the song escalates, McPhee switches to tenor for an on-fire solo that incites vocalizations from Küchen, creating a wild and soulful explosion of deepest passion and humanity.

Human Encore is full of fiery brilliance, which is not surprising given the strength of the players involved. It’s also further proof of Clean Feed’s fine work, as well as the veritable explosion of music emanating from Portugal.

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

CF 269Trespass Trio + Joe McPhee – Human Encore (CF 269)
In the past years Swedish saxophonist and bandleader Martin Küchen has made quite a name for himself, with the much acclaimed band “Angles”, with his solo performances, with his more funky expansive “Exploding Customer”, with “Looper”, with “Chip Shop Music”, with “All Included”, and probably some more, but equally with the great “Trespass Trio”, a real trio with Per Zanussi on bass and Raymond Strid on drums. I write a “real trio”, because even if the compositions are mainly Küchen’s – and familiar from other albums – all three musicians contribute equally to the sound and where the music goes.

Now the band expands with nobody less than Joe McPhee, whose phenomenal powerful and tender tenor sax sound fits perfectly well with the overall sound of the trio, but his musical vision strongly matches it too. Sorry, McPhee of course also doubles on pocket trumpet – his first instrument actually before he learned to play sax – and this sound is as welcome as the tenor in the trio’s open embrace.

Like with Trio X, McPhee is comfortable with slow, bluesy music that freely improvises around set themes, as is the case here. McPhee himself adds three compositions himself to this live performance, and it is obvious that the trio delivers their best efforts in the presence of their honored guest.

Küchen’s repertoire becomes familiar, here with “Bruder Beda Ist Nicht Mehr” and “In Our Midst”, two grand compositions, yet we get new material too, with “Xe” and “A Desert On Fire, A Forest”, again inspired by the intolerance of nations (tribes?) fighting each other, with the latter referring to Palestine in 1948.

And the music? It is heartfelt, passionate, with four musicians giving their very best, getting the audience clearly on the edge of their chairs, or at least with ears wide open if there were no chairs on this memorable date in Salão, Brazil in June 2012, the music is warm, welcoming and especially fierce and more uptempo in the middle part of the album, when McPhee’s pieces are being played, but also then, the sound matches well, the emotions flare up in the heat and intensity of the playing, offering Zanussi also his solo moment and Strid the chance to energise this great quartet.

Fans of Trio X will love this album, as much as fans of Trespass trio, confirming again that great musicians can find each other blindly, as long as they share the same musical vision, which is clearly the case here.