Low Life / Koln


Berlin, New York and Back
Impressions of John Coltrane

[ITM Archives,]

Live in London


German ITM label has a rich history in releasing some of the more interesting jazz and improvised musicians throughout 80's and 90's. Everyone from Radu Malfatti, Sonny Sharrock, Last Exit, Ginger Baker, Maggie Nicols, Georg Graewe had outstanding recordings blessed by the label. Sadly, a number of years back, the label disappeared into oblivion. Just recently, Jazzwerkstatt began an ambitious program of re-issuing some of ITM's back-catalogue. These releases are all but a teaser of what the label had to offer in its glory days.
Vocalist Phil Minton and his long-standing partner, pianist Veryan Weston have raised ruckus over their nearly 30 year long path. Their careening musical path has lead them from the serious, to the less serious. Ultimately, it was always the good humour and unique comedic approach of Minton that has drawn me time and again to his music. "Ways" - a re-issue of materials taken from three separate ITM releases - sees Minton at his jovial best. Not only does he do a rompous rendition of "Jailhouse Rock" [under the guise of "Midnight Bridge"], he also screams havoc through "Mandelay Song". My favourite bits are the ones where Minton, being true to his self, breaks out into total-body vocal chord contortions. "Flea" sees him breaking out into the usual Donald Duck on helium routine, while on "For You" he gets into a bellowing type of vocal that only shows the breadth of his talent. Weston is an excellent pianist, colouring Minton's vocals with intricate sparkles of clustery chords one minute, while attacking the keys with barrages of notes the next. An excellent overview of the duo's ITM output and a great start for any future fan.
Another duet that was quite large in the best sense of the word was one made up of saxophonist Peter Brotzmann and bassist Bill Laswell. Their long out-of-print record "Low Life" released by Celluloid in the late 80's is finally seeing the light of day again. Best of all, it comes packaged with Last Exit's "Koln" release as a nice double feature. Recorded in January 1987, "Low Life" was a short break for the duo away from their duties inside of the Last Exit powerhouse. While Brotzmann's blasts are as satisfying as ever, I'm glad to see him concentrate solely on bass sax. The sound is incredibly bare and direct. Laswell is a bit of a disappointment, for the most part loosing ground under his feet, looking for direction. At times, he tries to match Brotzmann's intensity but for the most part, his bass strings just crackle under saxophonist's weight. Move back one year from this recording session to 1986 and experience Last Exit's "Koln". Add guitarist Sonny Sharrock and percussionist Shannon Jackson and you've got yourself a first class ticket to improvised paradise. Recorded at the beginning of their 86 tour, the band was wildly tight, high on power of music and mostly, felt comfortable with each other's musical prowess. Sharrock delivers wildly scorching blues lines that spell out uncertain melody, while Jackson is a drummer from the nether regions of hell. Once Brotzmann initiates a wild blast on the tenor, the rest just follow suit. Each member barks louder than the other. In sections, everyone sounds like they want to outdo their band mate. Each section brings new surprises as awkward melodies pop in momentarily for a visit. Wildly satisfying in every sense of the word. Highly recommended for fans of improvised music that may have missed this essential music first time around. For those that know German guitar player Uwe Kropinski as one of the two guitar players in DoppelMoppel, there is a whole different aspect to the man once he steps into a more intimate setting. "Berlin, New York and Back" shows two sides to him. First disc in the set is a solo setting. Recorded in 1987 on various acoustic guitars, Kropinski tears through eight ravishing numbers in break-neck speed. Best is his take on Coltrane's "Lazybird", where he accentuates every single key change and motif, and Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" that is graceful without being overtly tender. His greatest gift in fact is the rapid succession of ideas he executes on just about every piece. Whenever the mood strikes him, he'll be gearing into overdrive with new changes and succession of mind-altering moves. One of the better numbers is "Trio for One Guitar", which sounds more like an orchestra of guitarists playing as opposed to just one person. When he's striking the body of his guitar, while lightly tapping his foot in perfect rhythm and delivering flawless lines, you realize this is someone whose music you really should be seeking out some more. When you add bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Pheeroan Aklaff to the mix on second disc [which was recorded in 1993], Kropinski's playing takes on another dimension. It's as if he slowed and mellowed his style in places. It's as if his sidemen forced him to tone down his breath-taking audacity and break-neck speed. Rhythm section is awkwardly subdued and Kropinski follows them along the quiet and tender path. It's amazing to hear just how percussively Kropinski plays. Often times, it's easy to mistake Aklaff for the leader and vice-versa. Melodies are awkwardly shaped and level of improvisation is kept to slow simmer, as Kropinski penned majority of these pieces. Straddling a line between jazz, flamenco and improvised music, this record is a great feast for the ears, displaying the varied talents of this German guitar player.
I suppose I've never been huge on saxophonist Alan Skidmore's output, but "Impressions of John Coltrane" is a different matter altogether. Instead of playing it safe, Skidmore is roughing up a storm on the 2 CD set. With a tight band made up of pianist Mike Gorman, bassist Aidan O'Donnell and percussionist Ian Palmer, the leader looks to Coltrane's music as his main inspiration. Don't mistake this for another salute to Coltrane. In fact only three of the eight pieces are Coltrane standards, with the rest being split between Duke Ellington ["Take the Coltrane"], George Gershwin ["But Not For Me" and "Summertime"] and others. The quartet's take of "Impressions" is pure fury and bliss. In just under 17 minutes, they tear the original apart. As Skidmore plays unashamed walls of thick tenor clusters, Gorman lets rip a slew of piano notes, while the rhythm section keeps a tight pulse on the proceedings. Warm in its not-so-gentle persuasive power and fresh with fervent energy, this live record is worth every single second of your attention and then some.
For a powerhouse arrangement of Skidmore's punch, I suggest checking out "Live in London", a date he recorded back in 1983 with percussionist Tony Oxley and bassist Ali Haurand. Skidmore is all flames, as he arranges intensely satisfying tenor and soprano solos on the four lengthy numbers. On "Dutch Dreams (Ali's Waltz)", his soprano prowess is out in full force. Reminiscent of latter day Coltrane, he can do no wrong and the band follows along for the ride. Honey to my ears is Tony Oxley - another main attraction for checking out this live date. His shimmering cow-bell and cymbal machinations on the adventurous "Percussion 10/Ruby Doo" is worth the price of admission alone. Exceptionally tight playing from everyone and another reason to give kudos to Jazzwerkstatt for re-issuing this long forgotten master.

- Tom Sekowski

<<< poprzednia recenzja następna recenzja >>>


+ Marek Styczyński - Cyber Totem
+ Uphill Racer - You Will Understand
+ Asmus Tietchens - Notturno
+ Sonar Kollektiv - Ten Years, Who Cares?
+ Slam - Human Response
+ Shriekback - Glory Bumps
+ The Black Seeds - Into The Dojo
+ Plant43 - Grey Sky Cracks EP
+ Troy Pierce - Gone Astray
+ Outlines - Our Lives Are Too Short
+ The Orb - Orbsessions Volume Two: Finest Quality For The Connoisseur
+ Exploited Presents: Shir Khan - Maximize!
+ Magnum 38 - Old Europe Strikes Back
+ Magnum 38 - Disko Toni EP
+ Lady Aarp - Soma
+ Oliver Koletzki - Get Wasted
+ Laurent Garnier - Public Outburst
+ Fovea Hex - Allure
+ False - 2007
+ Asmus Tietchens & Richard Chartier - Fabrication
+ Brian Ellis - The Silver Creature
+ Boxer 50 Jubilee
+ DJ 3000 - Blood & Honey
+ Current 93 - The Inmost Light
+ Cepia - Natura Morta
+ F.S. Blumm meets Luca Fadda - F.S. Blumm meets Luca Fadda
+ Eva Be - Moving Without Travelling
+ Alien Entertainment feat. Furious Steez - Tight Beatz EP
+ Nemezis - Inbetween
+ Tarwater - Spider Smile
+ Spoils of War - The Spoils of War
+ V. A. - Simla Beat 70/71
+ Death Ambient - Drunken Forest
+ Attilio Mineo - Man in Space with Sounds
+ International Harvester - Sov Gott Rose-Marie
+ Keiji Haino/K.K. Null - Mamono
+ Evan Parker - A Glancing Blow
+ Sabir Mateen's Shapes, Textures and Small Ensemble - Prophecies Come To Pass
+ David S.Ware Quartet - Renunciation
+ Sten Sandell Trio + John Butcher - Strokes

- - - - - - - - -

+ DECLARED ENEMY - Salute to 100001 Stars - A Tribute to Jean Genet
+ SCOTT TINKLER - Backwards
+ MIKHAIL - Orphica
+ BETTY DAVIS - Betty Davis - They Say I'm Different
+ PORT-ROYAL - Afraid to Dance / STAFRAENN HAKON - Gummi
+ A.M. - Orla
+ VARIOUS ARTISTS - Rumble in the Jungle
+ FABIAN GISLER - Backyard Poets
+ GENARO - Genaro
+ JEAN-LOUIS HUFTA - Halfway Between The World and Death
>> PHIL MINTON / VERYAN WESTON - Ways / PETER BROTZMANN / BILL LASWELL + LAST EXIT - Low Life / Koln / UWE KROPINSKI - Berlin, New York and Back / ALAN SKIDMORE QUARTET - Impressions of John Coltrane / S.O.H. - Live in London
+ THILGES - La Double Absence
+ JIM DENLEY - Through Fire, Crevice + The Hidden Valley
+ VARIOUS ARTISTS - Sidewalk Songs & City Stories - New Urban Folk
+ VARIOUS ARTISTS - Essential Dub
+ FORMICATION - Icons for a New Religion
+ STEALPOT - Indian Salon
+ PEOPLE LIKE US & ERGO PHIZMIZ - Perpetuum Mobile
+ ROBERT VINCS - Devic Kingdom
+ MICHAEL ZERANG - Cedarhead
+ CARTA - The Glass Bottom Boat
+ MARCO FERNANDES / MIKE PRIDE - A Mountain is a Mammal / KK NULL - Fertile / SERAFINA STEER - Cheap Demo Bad Science / JANDEK - The Ruins of Adventure / RONDERLIN - The Great Investigation / MICHAL OSOWSKI COLLECTIVE - Live at White Elephant / MATTHIEU SALADIN - Intervalles / VARIOUS ARTISTS - Si, Para Usted: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba, Volume One / CHARLES STUART - The Man Who Likes Watching / JOELLE LEANDRE / PASCAL CONTET - Freeway / KTL - 2 / SECOND HAND - Reality / HAUSCHKA - Versions of the Prepared Piano / VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Jarring Effects Home Experience # 2 / BRUCE EISENBEIL SEXTET - Inner Constellation Volume One / EVAN BARTHOLOMEW - Borderlands / BIRDY - Birdy / FATALI - Re:Construct / CANARTIC - Bouncing Radar Beams Off The Moon
+ AKI TAKASE / SILKE EBERHARD - Ornette Coleman Anthology

- - - - - - - - -


+ Here I am! - rozmowa z DJ Shirem Khanem
+ The huge amount of energy - rozmowa z Peterem Horrevortsem