Passion is an adjective associated with German sax avatar Peter Bro?tzmann, especially when you can see as well as hear the efforts that produce his gut- busting sounds. This DVD, produced by Pavel Borodin and Wolfgang Wasserbauer and directed and edited by Borodin, not only focuses on the passion behind his playing and that of the other musicians featured in this 75-minute concert from the 2011 Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria, it also highlights Bro?tzmann’s compassion. Four Japanese innovators were invited to play with the Chicago Tentet, proceeds going to organizations aiding victims of Japan’s 2011 earthquake.
Altruism aside, the careful focus and fluid camera work provides a matchless opportunity to observe individual strategies plus cohesive interaction among the bandmembers, who now include five Europeans. Backed by a crisp percussion outlay from Paal Nilssen-Love and Michael Zerang, improvisational variants are shown that include saxophonist Mats Gustafsson’s externalization of the search for a perfect sound and Joe McPhee, unperturbedly cool in porkpie hat and shades, slyly interjecting trumpet commentary.
As each guest appears, crisp editing underlines the ensemble’s versatility. Toshinori Kondo easily blends his processed trumpet tones with multiphonics produced by Bro?tzmann and Ken Vandermark. Sophisticated multi-camera work reveals that the jagged shakes and licks from Yoshihide Otomo’s guitar dovetail with shaped runs from bassist Kent Kessler and cellist Fred Lonberg- Holm. Plucking or roughening the strings with a bow, koto player Michiyo Yagi’s alternately staccato and smooth output is framed by sympathetic blowing from dual trombonists Jeb Bishop and Johannes Bauer.
However, veteran alto saxophonist/clarinetist Akira Sakata steals the show. Diminutive in stature, with a mixture of power and aplomb, he goes head- to-head with the taller sax section, inciting Bro?tzmann to output even more lung-bursting violence than elsewhere. To conclude, the German and Japanese embrace in mutual admiration.
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By Ken Waxman
Originally published in New York City Jazz Record September 2013 issue, page 37.
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