Gigs, dance, art

June 7th, 2009: Peter Brötzmann – Kent Kessler – Joe McPhee – Michael Zerang

@instants chavirés

I’ve had some kind of a problem with Peter Brötzmann, in that whenever I heard him live he seemed to be doing whatever was expected of him, rote performances that came nowhere near what I had heard on some records from a long time ago. So I was reluctant to go, but seeing Joe McPhee was there as well changed everything: I’ve yet to see a poor performance from this guy.

I had been talking with a coworker lately about the difference between free jazz and free improvisation, which I guess was just begging to be proved clueless. This performance blurred those lines, of course. Kent Kessler and Michael Zerang where almost always in the thick of this performance, and probably were instrumental in that. Saying that the bass and drums provide the backbone is an old saw, but in that case it was not just true but went beyong that, I think they were raising the level of discourse to the point where the others just had to show up.

Brötzmann has had a tendency to play on autopilot in my experience, but this time he eschewed that to show me what the hype was all about. He went through his usual things, but even through that part seemed more involved, and he didn’t linger on that but instead went slower at times and overall showed the range he can go through when challenged enough. At last he lived up to the standard he himself set those many years ago.

Joe McPhee was standing aside most of the time, but every single time he dove into the fray was for the better. He played a small trumpet, a regular one and saxophone, but no matter the instrument he was just spot on. If anything, he seemed to leave too much room to the others, but that’s probably my being a fan speaking. I think he did bring the most free jazz colored contribution of the four, but this performance doesn’t boil down to label and he was open enough to blend in the general rewriting of rules going on. My appreciation for him went up a notch, because no matter how much I wished he had been more involved, I’m sure he was instrumental in bringing out the best out of his partners. I sure it’s not a coincidence he was playing with Brötzmann the day he finally lived up to his records and performances from a while ago.


June 13, 2009 - Posted by | Music | , , , ,

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