This Ain't No Easy Listening
Let me start off by saying that I am in no way responsible if your eardrums start bleeding from the sheer intensity and volume of this recording. It's not pure cacophony like Machine Gun or Nipples, but it is definitely not cocktail party jazz for the bachelor pad generation. Peter Brotzmann has played with so many free jazz greats that if I was to list them all here it would take up the entire post. "Songlines" was recorded in 1991 as part of the mythical "Total Music Meeting" with Fred Hopkins and Rashied Ali joining Brotzmann for an intensely spiritual meeting of the minds. This meeting was apparently meant to bring three saxophonists, three bassists and threee drummers from both sides of the Atlantic to play together in all sorts of interesting combinations. This record is the end result of one of these fantastically creative collaborations.
"Songlines" features virtuoso performances by all three members, but you wouldn't expect anything less from these indelible masters of free jazz improvisation. Rashied Ali introduces the first track with a charismatic drum solo that anchors the ship until Hopkins's bassline enters in at around one-and-a-half minutes, bursting head first into Brotzmann's crashing waves of cacophonous sound. Around the seven minute mark, Hopkins slows down the pace with a nimble-fingered bass solo that showcases his mastery of the instrument. Then, the original melody is revisited for the last minute while the song fades like a lost memory. On "Old Man Kangaroo", Brotzmann comes crashing through the gates with an astounding level of intensity that doesn't let up until close to the four minute mark, when Hopkins dexterous bass solo gives the listener a breather. After the exceptional bass solo, Brotzmann attacks his saxophone with unbridled enthusiasm until the final curtain has been drawn. The closing tune entitled "Two Birds in a Feather" demonstrates the trio's range as they create a mesmerizing jazz-noir with a haunting bassline, brushed drums and an especially restrained saxophone solo from Brotzmann.
If you like what you hear, it can be purchased here on a German import.
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