Friday, August 27, 2010

Sonore: A Journey Into Sound

Sonore (group; formed 2003)

Peter Brotzmann (tenor/baritone sax)
Ken Vandermark (tenor/baritone sax, clarinet)
Mats Gustafsson (alto/bass/tenor sax, clarinet)

On the scene for over 40 years, German born, Peter Brotzmann has led groups of varying sizes. But the one constant is the sheer devotion to exploring the outer reaches of jazz. He is an aggressive player and for some (even the die hard avant garde fan) it may be hard to find the structural element in the piece. This is usually the time in which you should just sit back and enjoy the musicianship and the structure will find you.

Brotzmann is responsible for some of the most important European free jazz albums in history (Machine Gun (1966), Nipples (1969), Die Like A Dog (1993) and Octet/Tentet (1997)). While those are massive statement records of Brotzmann's intent and talent, there is one more recent group that he leads with musicians that he has influenced that appeals to me even more---Sonore.

Led by the European free jazz godfather, Sonore is an adventurous, dangerous yet wonderful collaboration from three of the most renowned saxophonists on the avant garde scene. Each with their own groups which they lead to equal success (The Vandermark 5, Gustafsson with The Thing and Brotzmann with his Tentet and Die Like A Dog among others). Slightly similar to Brotzmann's work with Bill Laswell in Last Exit but completely without a rhythm section--on the agrression of saxophones to lead the emotion and structure.

It is staggering and joyful to hear and witness live the power and influence Peter Brotzmann has had on his two disciples in Vandermark and Gustafsson. The interplay and respect each musician has for one another makes their three albums (Call Before You Dig; Only The Devil Has No Dreams, and No One Ever Works Alone)highly enjoyable. There isn't really one album that is better than the other. I would say the newest album Call Before You Dig (Okka Disk) which is a live and studio double album is good way to get the two sides of the band an idea of the strength of this amazing improvising outfit.

Trust me, this is not music for the faint at heart. This is improvising at its best. Two generations of musicians who are the best at their craft meeting for a brief and fruitful conversation through sound. Highly Recommended for those not afraid of sound.

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