Peter Brotzmann Clarinet Project
The Clarinet Project was something Peter Brotzmann put together for the 1984 JazzFest in Berlin. Brotzmann brought together six clarinetists from different jazz backgrounds for this one time only exploration of the instrument’s potential. The cast included the unlikely combination of Tony Coe (best known as the guy who played the sax on Henry Mancini’s “Pink Panther”), East German Ernst-Ludwig Petroesky, Frenchman Louis Sclavis and New Yorkers J.D. Parran and John Zorn. As if six clarinetists weren’t enough, Brotzman rounds out the group with trombonists Johannes Baur and Alan Tomlinson, trumpeter Toshinori Kondo and the rhythm section of William Parker and Tony Oxley.
Berlin Djungle is essentially one long composition flowing between segments of relative calm, as each clarinetist takes center stage, and stormy bouts of dissonance when the whole ensemble jumps in. Anyone familiar with Brotzmann’s energetic and highly improvisational works will know that this won’t be easy listening. It is rewarding, though. I pick up on different nuances every time I play the disc. As my ears become familiar with the dense sonic terrain, I hear bird calls, animal noises and café jazz melodies emerge from the wall of sound. When I’m in the right mood, I find this sonic exploration exhilarating. This must have been an incredible event to have experienced live.