Sunday, September 18, 2005

Peter Brötzmann is coming to Minneapolis

A man with an approach to Adolphe Sax's instruments that garnered him the nickname "Machine Gun" is coming to peel the paint off of the walls at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design [MCAD] on October 13th, 2005.

This firebrand of free jazz will be in duo with the fabulous drummer Nasheet Waits. That name may be familiar to some, as he is not only an accomplished musician and sideman himself, but the son of drummer Freddie Waits. The elder Waits appeared on several Blue Note dates with Andrew Hill, McCoy Tyner, and others. Nasheet himself has taken up playing with Andrew Hill on some of his most recent recordings, and also on the acclaimed Jason Moran's Blue Note recordings of recent.

Should you not know of Herr Brötzmann, know this: he has been making recordings since the late 1960s in his own highly original sound. Having been a part of the Fluxus movement, his music drew upon a deconstructionism and strong political statement. His tone and lexicon on his instruments is immediately identifiable -- the volume of his sound and tone are bigger than life. At times, you might be convinced the reed is about to splinter into nothingness. The closest classic tenor player you might identify him with would be Albert Ayler, but with less vibrato and more "wooliness" in the tone. He has a fleet on the b flat clarinet that is more agile than his tenor conversation. That may be due to the instrument itself. Speaking of instruments, the third instrument in his artillery, the taragato [a hungarian free reed instrument reminiscent of the b flat clarinet with a more pronounced bell flare], is rare in the jazz world. Brötzmann has also been known to pick up the bass clarinet in performance to great effect as well. His tone on it is akin to his approach on tenor sax -- a broad and wooly tone.

The list of innovative recordings and luminous sidemen [Don Cherry, Sonny Sharrock, Peter Kowald, Johnny Dyani, Han Bennink, et al.] are a testament to the originality of his artistic vision. There have been people with a sound as large, but without the unwavering and pure vision he has poured forth. Though clearly an admirer of Albert Ayler, his music suggests a less blues influenced and more uniquely European post-WWII aesthetic.

His art is not limited to targato, tenor sax, and clarinet improvisations; it extends into another completely original expression in the art gallery. Many of his graphic designs have adorned album sleeves. Just as his compatriot artist/drummer/prankster Han Bennink has an undeniable originality, so do Brötzmann's visual arts. A single blocky font and woodcut-like silhouettes serve as the building blocks for his stark lithographs and paintings. A compendium of his works was released to coincide with gallery showings of some of the items in 2003: The Inexplicable Flyswatter.

I am looking to arrange an interview with the legend himself, for possible syndication, or a possible podcast you will see on this site. We shall see.

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