Noise of Wings
Peter Brotzmann (tenor sax, tarogato, clarinet), Peter Friis Nielsen (electric bass), Peeter Uuskyla (drums)
We all know what Brotzmann does; that astonishing burst of energy which seems to boil out of the bell of his saxophone, that extreme sensitivity masquerading as bully-boy macho antics. His is one of the most extraordinary voices on the instrument around, and although well-known, his real talents are regularly underreported because of a tendency to view his playing in terms of noise, punky high-volume confrontation and retro-Aylerisms.
Well, this disk isn’t going to change that perception for those who are still in the dark about Brotzmann’s towering achievements. Only one track, entitled “A Real Dilemma, This One”, reminds us of his ability to play slowly, carefully, and with extreme sensitivity to the reed. As often happens, it’s the tarogato which leads him into this more reflective frame of mind. But even that track is a slow-burning whiskey ballad which Brotzmann growls his way through as if looking for someone to start a fight with. That coiled energy is a part of what makes him so special; it’s unlike anything else in the world, and the suspicious would do well to start here.
Elsewhere, then, the wonderfully barrel-chested sound of the Brotzmann tenor is allowed to roam free. Uuskyla is a free jazz drummer, with Andrew Cyrille’s ability to swing even when the pulse seems almost lost, but he’s a much sparser player than that early generation with their attachments to ride cymbals still strong. He seems able to describe the rhythm of the music with the smallest of gestures; an extremely valuable player.
Nielsen plays bass like a percussion instrument, hitting it hard and staying, for the most part, in the bottom register where pitch can come second to attach and articulation. He seems to really love playing with Uuskyla — this writer suspects they’re a regular duo — and Brotzmann audibly enjoys their company. In short, the three lock together tightly and cook.
Nobody works harder than Brotzmann, and he makes his playing partners sweat just as hard as he does. Fortunately, it seems that neither Uuskyla nor Nielsen is afraid of hard work, and they pitch in with the kind of muscular, driving free jazz which makes the reedsman feel at home. A twenty-minute piece which moves between furious blowing and gentle passages with a sense of inevitable destiny crowns an excellent and very generously filled-out CD. Fans will find it essential; if you haven’t heard Brotzmann yet, here’s where to get on the bus. Highly recommended. Richard Cochrane