Tag Archives: Paal Nilssen-Love

JazzWord review by Ken Waxman

CF 252Hairybones – SnakeLust (CF 252)
Peter Brötzmann – Solo +Trio Roma (Victo)
Moriyama/Satoh/Brötzmann – Yatagarasu (NotTwo)
Sonore – Café Oto/London (Trost)

Something In The Air: Peter Brötzmann’s Triumphant Seventh Decade

Although the witticism that “free jazz keeps you young” has been repeated so often that’s it’s taken on cliché status, there’s enough evidence to give the statement veracity. Many improvisers in their eighties and seventies are still playing with the fire of performers in their twenties. Take German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, who celebrated his 70th birthday and nearly 50 years of recording a couple of years ago. Case in point is Solo +Trio Roma Victo cd 122/123, recorded at 2011’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV) in Quebec. Not only does Brötzmann play with unabated intensity for almost 75 minutes, while fronting a bassist and a drummer about half his age on one CD; but on the other inventively plays unaccompanied, without a break, for another hour or so. The multi-reedist still blows with the same caterwauling intensity that characterized Machine Gun, 1968’s Free Jazz classic, plus a balladic sensitivity now spells his go-for-broke expositions. Solo, his overview is relentlessly linear mixing extended staccato cadenzas with passages of sweet romance that momentarily slow the narrative. Climatically the nearly 25-minute Frames of Motion is a pitch-sliding explosion of irregular textures and harsh glissandi that seems thick as stone, yet is malleable enough to squeeze the slightest nuance out of every tune. Slyly, Brötzmann concludes the piece with gargling split tones that gradually amalgamate into I Surrender Dear. Backed by Norwegian percussion Paal Nilssen-Love and Italian electric bassist Massimo Pupillo, Brötzmann adds lip-curling intensity and multiphonic glissandi to the other program. Centrepiece is Music Marries Room to Room that continues for more than 69½ minutes. Besides wounded bull-like cries tempered with spitting glissandi from the saxophonist, the piece includes jet-engine-like drones from the Pupillo as well as shattering ruffs and pounding shuffles from the drummer. Several times, just as it seems the playing can’t get any more ardent, it kicks up another notch. Indefatigable, the saxophonist spins out staccato screams and emphasized renal snorts in equal measures, with his stentorian output encompassing tongue slaps, tongue stops and flutter tonguing. Brief solos showcase Pupillo crunching shards of electronic friction with buzz-saw intensity, while Nilssen-Love exposes drags, paradiddles, rebounds, and smacks, without slowing the beat. There are even lyrical interludes among the overblowing as Brötzmann occasionally brings the proceedings to a halt for a capella sequences, which suggest everything from Taps to Better Git It in your Soul. Finally the broken-octave narrative reaches a point of no-return to wrap up in a circular fashion with yelping reed cries, blunt percussion smacks and dense electronic buzzes. Rapturous applause from the audience spurs the three to go at it again at the same elevated concentration for an additional five minutes.

Three months after FIMAV, at a Portuguese jazz festival, the trio was joined by Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo and under the name of Hairybones recorded the single-track blow-out that is SnakeLust Clean Feed 252 CD. Affiliated with the reedist on and off since the early 1980s, the trumpeter who also uses electronics, adds several sonic colors to sounds from the basic trio. Given a wider canvas, Pupillo transcends holding the ostinato, and uses slurred fingering, buzzing flanges and frailing distortions. Similarly the drummer contributes several extended hand-drumming sequences, most notably as accompaniment to Brötzmann’s investigation of the woody tárogató. Kondo’s most common strategy mixes muted tongue flutters with electronic extensions reminiscent of Miles Davis’ 1970s work. He often plays allegro as well, using his familiarity with the reedman’s ideas to blend capillary grace notes with Brötzmann’s nephritic strains, often played parallel. The expanded sound field not only creates polyphonic textures with at least five sonic colors, but warms the saxman’s staccato slurs and altissimo cries. Following Brötzmann’s and Nilssen-Love’s tárogató- drum intermezzo, Kondo’s mellow, electronically enhanced trills add enough French-horn-like timbres to almost make that theme variation low-key. By the improvisation’s conclusion however, Kondo presses down on his effects pedal to add wide vibrations. These join enough torqued multiphonics from the other players to create a finale that’s strident, contrapuntal and ultimately satisfying.

Less than 90 days afterwards, peripatetic Brötzmann performed at Krakow’s Autumn Jazz Festival in another mammoth improvisation captured on Yatagarasu NotTwo MW 894-2. Billed as The Heavyweights, his associates were both Japanese and his contemporaries: pianist Masihiko Satoh is his age and drummer Takeo Moriyama four years younger. Despite the abundance of grey hair the set was characterized by the same unparalleled toughness as the others. Another free jazz marvel, Satoh has the matchless technique and indefatigable stamina to match the saxophonist snaky inventions; while Moriyama’s double-time paradiddles and martial press rolls open up spacious sound territory. On some tracks, Brötzmann appears to never to stop playing, emptying his lungs with staccato whinnies and renal battle cries. Not that the pianist’s raw-power chording take second place. Should the saxophonist metaphorically examine every tone facet before letting it loose, then Satoh’s voicing emphasizes each note with key-clipping enthusiasm. On Icy Spears, the pianist cuts through the cacophony to surprise with low-frequency, cross-handed chording, prodding Brötzmann to briefly slow the tempo with breathy vibrations before deconstructing the line into shards once again. Full-blast saxophone shrills are other Satoh challenges, which he counters by re-doubling his kinetic key fanning. Eventually cymbal clashes blend with swelling piano pumps and altissimo reed passion for an expressive climax which appears to have reached the limit of endurance; at least the trio suddenly stops playing.

Brötzmann is also a mentor to – and often employer of – younger saxophonists involved with unbridled free expression. Recorded one month before his FIMAV gig, Sonore Café Oto/London Trost TR 108 is a showcase for another of his distinctive working groups. An all-reeds trio, other members are American tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Vandermark and Swedish baritone saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, leaders of their own bands, each two decades Brötzmann’s junior. Tellingly the older saxophonist doesn’t pull rank, with solos parceled out equally. Furthermore the program consists of a composition by each member plus a free-form blow-out. More crucially despite the number of jagged split tones, altissimo run and nephritic bellows vibrating during the program, Sonore is in no sense Brötzmann times three. While a layered narrative like Le Chien Perdu features the three harmonizing in triple counterpoint, each player retains his individuality. Gustafsson does so by propelling pedal-point pops. Still even as Brötzmann’s and Vandermark’s staccato timbres swell to bird-whistle territory, neither would be mistaken for the other.

Youthfulness may have a particular meaning in general. Yet when it comes to innovative musical expression, Brötzmann provides the textbook definition.


Arcor best of 2012 list by Karl Lippegaus

•Can: The Lost Tapes (Mute)
•Charles Mingus: The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65 (Mosaic)
•Chris McGregor: In His Good Time (Ogun)
•Dizzy Reece: Five Classic Albums (Real Gone Jazz)
•Elton Dean’s Ninesense: The 100 Club Concert 1979 (Reel Recordings)
•Jimmy Lyons + Sunny Murray Trio: Jump Up (Hatology)
•Junior Wells: Hoodoo Man Blues (Delmark)
•Keith Jarrett Jan Garbarek Quartet: Sleeper (ECM)
•King Crimson: Larks’ Tongues In Aspic � 40th Anniversary Box (Discipline)
•Marion Brown: Geechee Recollections/Sweet Earth Is Flying (Impulse)
•Thelonious Monk: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings (Sony)

•Meredith d’Ambrosio: By Myself (Sunnyside)
•Edouard Ferlet: Think Bach (Mélisse)
•John Surman: Saltash Bells (ECM)
•Edward Perraud + Elise Caron: Bitter Sweets (Quark)
•Heinz Sauer + Michael Wollny: Don’t Explain (Act)
•Stephan Oliva + Jean-Marc Foltz (Visions Fugitives)
•Steve Lehman Trio: Dialect Fluorescent (Pi Recordings)
•Jean-Paul Celea Trio: Yes, Ornette (Outnote)
•Stephane Kerecki Trio m. Tony Malaby & Bojan Z: Sound Architects (Outnote)  •Wadada Leo Smith’s Mbira: Dark Lady Of The Sonnets (TUM)
•Caravaggio: #2 (La Buissonne)  •Kip Hanrahan: At Home In Anger (American Clave)
CF 253Hugo Carvalhais: Particula (Clean Feed)
•Criolo: Nóna Orelha (Sterns)
•John Zorn: Nosferatu (Tzadik)
•Dans Les Arbres: Canopée (ECM)
•Guillaume Perret & the Electric Epic (Tzadik)

CF 252•Hairybones (Toshinori Kondo/Massimo Pupillo/Peter Brötzmann/Paal Nilssen-Love): Snakelust (Clean Feed)
•Hafez Modirzadeh: Post-Chromodal Out! (Pi Recordings)
•Médéric Collignon: À La Recherche Du Roi Frippé (Just Looking)
•Didier Petit, Alexandre Pierrepont: Passages � A Road Record (RogueArt)
•Philipp Schmickl / Gespräche mit Paul Lovens in: Theoral no. 3
•Schlippenbach Trio: Aber das Wort Hund bellt ja nicht � Film von Bernd Schoch

Point of Departure review by Brian Morton

CF 252Peter Brötzmann – Solo + Trio Roma  (Victo CD 122/123)
Hairybones – Snakelust  (CF 252)
The revisionist position on Peter Brötzmann is that he is not “really” a screamer after all, but a lyrical improviser whose frequent assaults on the altissimo range are perverse confirmation of a quieter and more accommodating nature. Revisionism has its uses, but this example fails to convince. It is a little like describing Muhammad Ali as a “poet” or Joe Frazier as a “singer”: neither false, neither sufficient, both misleading. For a start, it confuses exception with rule, the most obvious exception being the unaccompanied 1984 14 Love Poems.  It is also, quite transparently, an attempt to rebrand the “saxophone terrorist” (vile phrase!) in line with a gentler and less confrontational market aesthetic. In reality, we still look to Brötzmann for high-energy playing, putatively engendered by Coltrane, Sanders and Ayler, but bearing surprisingly little of that strain and far closer in terms of development and basic texture to Sonny Rollins than is usually acknowledged.

These performances were recorded some four months apart, in Victoriaville and Lisbon respectively, during the summer of 2011. The first disc is a set of solo reed improvisations, including a new, alto version of Ornette’s “Lonely Woman,” which led off 14 Love Poems, but on baritone. The other disc is a trio performance from the following day with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and electric bassist Massimo Pupillo. The use of an electric bass in a Brötz group stretches back to Last Exit (if indeed they can be placed in his column), but is still somewhat surprising. The saxophonist has had close and creative associations with master bassists, Peter Kowald most obviously, but William Parker and Kent Kessler as well. Electric bass put in an appearance on the relatively obscure 1999 Noise of Wings from Kungälv in Sweden with drummer Peeter Uuskyla and Peter Friis Nielsen whose juicy, uncomplicated sound sets a mark for Pupillo’s role in the more recent trio. Critics love to feign surprise, even shock, at musician’s recruitment decisions. It reached something of a hysterical peak with Miles’s appropriation of Michael Henderson. I’d say Brötzmann’s use of electric bass is closer to Rollins’ loyalty to Bob Cranshaw, one of the few players of the older school who invests bass guitar with real character and personality. But I was also irresistibly reminded of some of Brötz’s work with his guitarist son Caspar Brötzmann, and in particular the remorseless Last Home on Pathological (!), on which there is little sign of interplay between the two duo voices, just parallel lines. Where once I might have thought this was a criticism, it may turn out to be descriptive and definitive. Pupillo throbs away, sometimes in a meter that seems to waver from bar to bar but that on a closer and more detailed count maintains its relentless progress. Again, not a criticism; just the way this music seems to function, with Brötzmann worrying away at ideas for many minutes, Nilssen-Love providing much of the movement and color. It’s an intoxicating blend.

The solo disc from Victoriaville begins with a version of “Never Too Late But Always Too Early,” a title which became associated after a previous Canadian performance in Kowald’s memory. It’s a brooding, reflective piece here, taken on alto with supple use of the lower register. The other pieces are for clarinet and tenor, with the surprise appearance of “I Surrender, Dear” tacked on to the end of “Frames of Motion.” The trio performances seem to share some energy, if not an actual body of musical material, with the solo date. Certain phrases, and their inversions, play a part in both. The solitariness proposed in the Ornette piece seems to give way to a group philosophy that does not depend on clichés of empathy, “telepathy” or even communication, but a constructivist logic that relies on simple co-presence and co-existence. It’s worth listening again with this in mind. Parallel elements have no necessary connection. They simply work, and work very powerfully as a musical unity.

That sense is complicated slightly with the addition of Kondo for Hairybone’s Lisbon performance. This is a format that has been around for many years. Its language is implicit in the inchoate Marz Combo sessions of 1992, when Brötzmann was still evolving a language for larger-scale ensembles. It was made explicit on Die Like A Dog and the two volumes of Little Birds Have Fast Hearts, on which William Parker and Hamid Drake form the two other legs of the quartet. Kondo’s electronics significantly fill in the sound, in a quite different way to, say, Evan Parker’s marshalling of electronics within his recent larger ensembles, but here in a curious balance between a bigger, “orchestral” palette and the “intimacy” (another curious cliché) of a small group. It doesn’t sound intimate. It sounds challenging, and in a very particular way because there is no obvious common cause among the players, no sense of a consistent front or message. The result is far from chaotic, but it is also far from normative or routinely cohesive. Again, Nilssen-Love creates the most obvious sense of movement. The reeds (which this time include tarogato) worry away at ideas and then drop abruptly silent, marking deep and dramatic transitions in what is otherwise a continuous 53 minute performance. The title is taken from and the piece dedicated to poet and short story writer Kenji Nakagami, who died prematurely in 1992. The group’s collective title should offer some warning against any assumption that this is Brötzmann’s project, but equally one shouldn’t assume that the dedication to Nakagami is Kondo’s sole responsibility. The aesthetic it implies is one Brötzmann thoroughly understands, a body of work that draws much of its energy from the divisions within Japanese society, of race, language and class primarily. More than ever, Brötzmann draws his energy from the Babel of contemporary styles and from the uneasy truce between once-irreconcilable approaches. Both the trio and Hairybones have some elements of rock and noise, and show some resistance to virtuosic soloing. It’s the nature of that resistance that makes this music so compelling.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

CF 252Double Tandem – Cement (PNL)
Hairybones – Snakelust (to Kenji Nakagami) (CF 252)
Over the past decade Paal Nilssen-Love has become the percussionist of choice for a range of free jazz and improvising musicians from his home country of Norway to the rest of northern Europe and beyond. Many of those roles call on the sheer force of his drumming, but Nilssen-Love has far more to offer than that. He’s a resourceful percussionist, able at will to call on the jazz traditions as well as adroitly exploring texture and sound. Double Tandem is Nilssen-Love joined by the two saxophonist/clarinetists Ken Vandermark and AbBaars, whose styles might seem initially incompatible. The heated blowing one immediately associates with Vandermark and Nilssen-Love is only one dimension of Cement though and the distinctive qualities that link the three musicians lie elsewhere. Baars and Vandermark share affinities as traditional tenor players and beyond that there’s their empathy as clarinetists, connoisseurs of the instrument’s quirky woodiness. Much of what characterizes Cement is a subtle exploratory quality and Nilssen-Love’s ability to fit in, reducing his work to the clearest rhythmic impetus, often armed with brushes rather than sticks.

Peter Brötzmann’s name may not be in front of Hairy Bones, but there’s no question who is the leader. Snakelust is an enduring testimony to the galvanizing power of his work. The band is a direct outgrowth of the earlier Die Like a Dog quartet, retaining Toshinori Kondo on trumpet and electronics but with the amplified and machine-like team of Nilssen-Love and electric bassist Massimo Pupillo replacing Hamid Drake and William Parker. Kondo is an ideal foil for Brötzmann, his trumpet lines often minimal blasts and sputters that swirl off into space whereas Brötzmann is as expressive as any tenor saxophonist has ever been. The intensity never flags but it does shift direction frequently, including sustained three-way inventions between Pupillo’s pulsing bass, Kondo’s soaring electronics and Nilssen-Love’s shifting rhythmic patterns, all three reaching toward clarity in the midst of the very sonic maelstrom that they create.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Hairybones – Snakelust (Clean Feed 252)
Some music drives with such a singular force that it totally occupies the space it is in. There is nothing but the music at that moment and you either surrender to it and let it wash over you like a kind of baptism or you leave the space and go it alone.   That’s the kind of music to be had in Hairybones’ single 53-minute rout Snakelust (Clean Feed 252). It’s the band live at Jazz em Agosto, Lisbon, last year and they are most definitely cranked for this set. Hairybones is the irrepressable Peter Broetzman on tenor, alto, etc.; Toshinori Kondo on trumpet; Massimo Pupillo on electric bass; and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. Now that’s a formidable lineup.   The effects and volume element of Massimo’s bass and the electronics-trumpet of Toshinori gives the band an electricity that seems to bring out some harder playing from everybody. Paal is demonic, Peter, never the shy violet, is strongly possessed by the free-energy spirit here, Massimo does some very effective bass thundering, and Toshinori screams, wails and plunges into an aesthetic abyss for some of his best playing on disk.   There are times when the intensity reaches the level of Ascension and even beyond. Other times they explore less dense territory. They never flag nor do they play a single unfelt note, so far as I can hear.   I wont lie to you and say that this CD will convert those who dislike the free-energy-maelstrom sort of onslaught. I doubt that it will. It is a good one for somebody who knows nothing of this kind of music and wants to be blown away. Broetzmann fans and those who seek out the heat of out music will revel in it.

Blow Up Magazine review by Enrico Bettinello

Hairybones Snakelust (CF 252)
Platform 1 Takes Off (CF 255)
The Fish Moon Fish (CF 254)
Instancabili gli alfieri dell’avant/jazz, di ogni latitudine. Prontissima come sempre la portoghese Clean Feed  a documentarli, come in questo trittico che farà certamente ingolosire gli appassionati.

Gli Hairybones di Peter Brötzmann innanzitutto, impegnati in una lunga suite dedicata allo scrittore giapponese Kenji Nakagami: il quartetto, completato dalla tomba e elettronica di Toshinori Kondo, dal basso di Massimo Pupillo [Zu] e dalla batteria di Paal Nilssen-Love [The Thing] è una vera e propria macchina da guerra, un muro di intenzione sonora [anche quando uno dei componenti viene lasciato a monologare, come nello splendido interludio di Brötzmann dopo circa un quarto d’ora dall’inizio]. I fan apprezzeranno, astenersi nervi fragili.

Ottimo anche l’ennesimo nuovo progetto di Ken Vandermark, ormai stabilmente proiettato sugli incroci tra musicisti americani e europei: il quintetto Platform 1 si pregia di uno dei migliori e più sottovalutati tromboni in circolazione, Steve Swell, della tromba di Magnos Broo [Atomic] e della intensa coppia ritmica formata da Michael Vatcher e Joe Williamson, entrambi musicisti che dagli States si sono trasferiti in Europa. I temi sono firmati da ciascuno dei componenti e questo garantisce una bella varietà di approcci e di situazioni, da quelle più astratte e impalpabili [Stations di Vandermark] a quelle più ruspanti come Compromising Emanations di Swell. Grande dinamismo e splendida musica, sebbene nel solco di sintesi post-free tipico di Vandermark.

Viene invece dalla Francia il trio The Fish, che già si era fatto apprezzare qualche anno fa con un bel live per la Ayler Records. Il contralto di Jean-Luc Guionnet, il basso di Benjamin Duboc e Edward Perraud si rifanno apertamente alla ormai lunga tradizione dell’improvvisazione libera e torrenziale, sebbene giocata con grande abilità. Nulla di nuovo, ma un trio che se vi capita dal vivo, non è da mancare.

Publico review by Rodrigo Amado

Visões de excesso

Registo de um memorável concerto no Jazz em Agosto 2011, Snakelust é um fascinante vortex de energia, ruído e música. Rodrigo Amado

Peter Brötzmann / Paal Nilssen-Love /  Massimo Pupillo /  Toshinori Kondo Hairy Bones – Snakelust (CF 252)
[4,5 estrelas]
Gravado ao vivo na edição 2011 do festival Jazz em Agosto e assinalando a continuidade da parceria entre a Clean Feed e a Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Snakelust é um verdadeiro murro no estômago, mesmo para aqueles habituados às andanças do novo jazz. Liderado pelo lendário saxofonista germânico Peter Brotzmann e composto por Toshinori Kondo no trompete, Massimo Pupillo no baixo eléctrico e Paal Nilssen-Love na bateria, o quarteto eléctrico destila 53 minutos, ininterruptos, de puro magma free-jazz, num vortex de energia, ruído e música que tudo engole. Mas vejamos bem; numa audição atenta (apenas para os mais audazes) começam a vislumbrar-se nesta música, para além do impressionante e notável staying-power dos músicos, uma multitude de níveis de percepção do som, parecendo frequentemente que estamos a ouvir simultâneamente duas ou três bandas distintas, unidas pela espiritualidade intergaláctica que nos foi legada por Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler ou Sun Ra. Peter Brotzmann, actualmente com 71 anos de idade, surge aqui em grande forma, soprando de forma furiosa num equilíbrio instável entre o insano e o surprendentemente ponderado, assinando uma das suas performances mais electrizantes dos últimos tempos. Kondo, sempre certeiro, encarrega-se de injectar saudáveis doses de electrónica bem como algumas tonalidades bluesy, a evocar uma das suas maiores influências: Miles Davis. Quanto a Pupillo e Nilssen-Love, pouco há a dizer, excepto que é, provavelmente, a mais endiabrada, demolidora e tonitruante secção rítmica de que há memória, fazendo tudo por tudo para quebrar as barreiras razoáveis do som. Que se ouça o disco do princípio ao fim, com prazer e uma vibrante sensação de descoberta, é o que faz deste registo audição obrigatória para todos os que investigam os limites mais longínquos do jazz.