Brotzmann /Friis Niesen / Uuskyla
I rarely find liner notes inspiring. At best, liner notes are informative; at worst, they are the soulless leavings of an advertising copywriter. Peeter Uuskyla’s notes for Medicina are somewhat garbled in English, but Uuskyla asks the age old question: “Why must it be boring to earn one’s bread?” He then suggests that at least once a day you should get in touch with your dreams and visions. For musicians like Peter Brotzmann and the Swedish rhythm section of Friis Nielsen and liner notes author Uuskyla, music is the tonic that restores the soul and allows them to face whatever menial insults must be endured to pay the rent and stock the fridge.
When Peter Brotzmann makes music, it is often strong medicine. When he starts to wail on “Rocket Tango,” you can almost feel the purgative effect. Brotzmann’s playing isn’t what radio programmers usually think of as pretty, but there is grit and integrity in the gut-wrenching slabs of sound he lays down. This sort of musical exploration of the soul appeals to me. I like the fact that these players will never play these songs quite the same way again. If you get the chance to see them play these tunes live, they will take the music in slightly different directions every time. It’s part of what makes this sort of music cathartic, to player and listener alike.
While most of Medicina will mainly appeal to the free jazz aficionado, the quietly meditative “Here and Now” is quite pretty and accessible. Peter’s clarinet muses melancholy, while Uuskyla’s drums provide accent. I’ve played this tune on a more or less traditional jazz radio show without hordes of angry callers. In fact, I’ve had some rather nice comments on the piece from people who would never admit to liking anything by one of those skronky free jazz demons.
A dose of this Medicina might help brighten your day. If this sort of jazz isn’t your thing, you can always try following Uuskyla’s advice to make time to get in touch with your own dreams and visions.