Music Reviews

Peter Brotzmann Sextet/Quartet

Nipples

Atavistic

This is part of the first batch of reissues that Atavistic is doing under the banner of the “Unheard Music Series.” In this series, they are going to be unleashing classic documents of improvised music that is “unheard” for whatever reason. Nipples has been a notoriously difficult to find document from 1969 of European improv.

Sporting a somewhat similar lineup to his epochal Machine Gun, Nipples hits just as hard. The lineup on the Sextet section of the disc is Evan Parker on tenor sax, Peter Brotzmann on tenor as well, Derek Bailey on guitar, the recently appeared in Central Florida Fred Van Hove on piano, Buschi Niebergal on bass and Han Bennink on drums. All but Niebergal are improv stalwarts, and it’s interesting to see how their styles have changed in the past 30 some odd years.

I’m always amazed at how these incredible players can subdue their egos and feed the collective energy of the group. Parker’s tenor flutters madly, and when it’s just him and Brotzmann wailing away, I can feel the earwax melting away. Han Bennink sounds like a jungle and Van Hove liberally scatters his notes across the field. 17 minutes of bliss.

“Tell a Green Man” is the quartet piece. Playing on it are Bennink, Niebergal, Van Hove and Brotzmann. It starts out as a vivid conversation between Niebergall and Bennink, each of the two running through ideas, tossing them every which way. After about 4 and a half minutes, Brotzmann enters, introducing a melody in his inimitable way followed by Van Hove. Brotzmann’s voice shoots to the fore with the other musicians clattering and rumbling behind. Brotzmann exits, and the other three quickly fill up the space. Van Hove sounds like he’s going to crack his keys, hurtling forward on devil-may-care runs. Brotzmann enters again near the ending and clears the air with banshee wails.

Nipples is what you’ve come to expect from this cast of characters, yet wholly fresh and original. Brash, sensitive, chaotic and masterfully controlled, it both lives up to and shatters your expectations.

Atavistic, P.O. Box 578266, Chicago, IL 60657; http://www.atavistic.com


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