Music Reviews

Peter Brotzmann

Fuck De Boere

Haazz & Company

Unlawful Noise


Atavistic’s Unheard Music Series continues with two classic pieces of European free improvisation. There’s a few players shared on the pair (Peter Brotzmann and Han Bennink), but more importantly, they both have that visceral urgency which characterized Euro free-improv in late sixties through the ’70s.

Fuck De Boere consists of two pieces. The first is a recently unearthed recording of the classic “Machine Gun.” This piece, from 1968, is one of the foundational pieces of European improv, and this recording is better than the one on FMP. The line-up is almost the same (William Breuker, Peter Brotzmann, and Evan Parker on saxophones, Fred Van Hove on piano, Peter Kowald and Buschi Niebergall on basses, and Han Bennink and Sven-Ake Johansson on drums), save the addition of Gerd Dudek on sax. It’s as roaring, climactic, and thrilling as you remember it being. Dudek makes the horn section even more powerful, with the drums, basses, and piano competing even harder to be heard. Evan Parker is suitably brilliant, and it was his playing on the original “Machine Gun” that really helped to cultivate my love of improvised music. This recording of “Machine Gun” is worth the price of admission.

The title piece is no chopped liver, however. It’s dedicated to South African bassist Johnny Dyani, the subject of the personal liner notes by Brotzmann. This session, from 1970, sports four trombonists (Paul Rutherford, Malcolm Griffiths, William de Manen, and Buschi Niebergall). They slightly outnumber William Breuker, Peter Brotzmann, and Evan Parker on saxophones. Fred Van Hove plays organ (!) on the piece, and Derek Bailey is about as wild as I’ve ever heard him on guitar. Han Bennink rounds the ensemble out on drums. The session is amazing, with a lot of variations in dynamics and plenty of space for smaller groupings of players within the pieces. Bailey’s playing is amazing; about 25 minutes into the piece, there’s a hellraising duet guitar and overdriven duet between Bailey and Van Hove. Overall, it’s a crucial piece of music, and some of the most viscerally alive music that I’ve heard.

Kees Hazevoet is the leader of the two sessions that comprise Unlawful Noise (which is a pretty a propos title). He was a strong influence in the Dutch free music underground, which he left before the likes of William Breuker, Misha Mengelberg, and Han Bennink really brought it to the prominence charted in Kevin Whitehead’s New Dutch Swing.

The release of Unlawful Noise with that of Fuck De Boere is very appropriate. Johnny Dyani, the dedicatee of Fuck De Boere plays bass here, while Brotzmann and Han Bennink also play here. It’s not fair to put Unlawful Noise in comparison up to Fuck De Boere though. The band that played “Machine Gun” had been perfecting that piece for a while, while this band – which also includes Peter Bennink on tenor sax and clarinets, Kees Hazevolet on piano and B-flat clarinet, and South African Louis Moholo on drums – seems to be a more ad hoc grouping. They don’t have the sense of dynamics; everything is very, very dense and the musicians don’t have a much chance to solo in any shape. All of the playing also really strong, but Hazevolet’s piano interacts beautifully with Brotzmann’s tenor on the title track. The bagpipes are also very unexpected. The two tracks (which span over 50 minutes) provide an insight into the more unknown roots of Dutch free jazz, and a wild, rollicking ride. Decidedly recommended.

Atavistic, PO Box 578266, Chicago, IL 60657;

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