Peter Brötzmann – Fred Van Hove – Han Bennink
ELEMENTS (FMP 0030)
Tunes: “Florence Nightingale” / “Elements”
COUSCOUS (FMP 0040)
Tunes: “Couscous” / “Wenn mein Schätzlein auf die Pauke haut”
THE END (FMP 0050)
Tunes: “The Bad” / “Antwarreppe”, / “Albert’s”
Peter Brötzmann / tenor sax, Fred Van Hove / piano, Han Bennink drums and various instruments; plus Albert Mangelsdorff / trombone. Recorded: August 27, 28, 1971 at the Berlin “Free Music Market.”
OUTSPAN NO. 2 (FMP 0200)
Peter Brötzmann / clarinet, alto and tenor sax, brotzophon, Fred Van Hove / piano, Han Bennink / drums, clarinet, homemade junk, everything, anything.
Recorded: May 4, 1974, Nurnberg Festival.
The “Free Music Market” recordings present music that is remarkably successful considering it is almost entirely of a non-linear nature. These LPs might appropriately be referred to as studies in texture and tone color. While the language used is similar to that of the black free musicians of the Sixties, the similarity is of language only; because the purpose to which this organization of sounds is put is almost totally different. There are no real themes presented and there is no development in the sense that a thematic idea might be developed. Development is implied by the changing episodes and the withdrawal and addition of new sounds (textures). But the music does not so much develop (linearly) as it simply changes shape or direction. There is a churning forward movement (a real urgency about it) but it is more expanding (like circles in a pond) than it is actually going any place. Its linear aspects, such as they are (short, probing motifs or melodic fragments), are nearly all deceptive, rather quickly turning into something else.
Brötzmann’s playing personifies this approach. He’s strongly influenced by early Pharoah Sanders and by Albert Ayler of the “Greenwich Village” period. Yet he would not be thought of as an eloquent player in the sense that either Sanders or Ayler might be thought of as eloquent. Brötzmann largely moves you by the sheer strength of what he does, and his playing is almost entirely concerned with pitch and timbre, all the while working his way toward the tenor’s threshold of sound.
In a certain sense, it’s all catharsis, but that is more its point of departure (its medium) than its ultimate purpose. (In point of fact, there are only a few real cathartic culminations.) Brötzmann seems fully aware that he is only one force among several, and so he does not dominate matters in the way that energy players sometimes dominate everything. As he is playing, the shape of the music – underneath/above – is almost always changing, preparing for something else.
Van Hove, a strong and (I think) deliberately eclectic piano stylist, is quite important in this regard, generally laying out of the more frenetic ensembles and then providing needed shifts in tone color and dramatic emphasis. But the real backbone of this music is the great Dutch drummer Han Bennink, who has devised one of the most truly original approaches to the art of percussion and who must be near his best form on these recordings. Bennink seems to play just about everything he can get his hands on, and he often seems to have about three or four pairs of hands. His expansive range of sound and color (and, one might add, theatrics) is in turn combined with his unique sense of form and musical structure. Bennink almost single handedly fashions this music as it goes along.
Yet if Bennink is the music’s most essential part, Mangelsdorff is probably its most expendable. It’s not that Mangelsdorff does not frequently play well, which he does. It’s simply obvious that, however well he fits into these performances, Brötzmann, Van Hove, and Bennink are fully capable of getting along without him.
The best pieces overall are Van Hove’s “Florence Nightingale” and Brötzmann’s “Couscous.” “The End,” which begins with an absolutely scorching solo by Brötzmann, also has much to recommend it, but it’s not near as varied as the other two pieces. “Elements,” which is extremely varied, seems almost a success, but not quite; in retrospect, the piece seems to have been left dangling and a bit unfinished. The shorter pieces, “Antwarreppe” and “Albert’s,” suffer similarly; they are more fragments than finished works and neither adds much musically that has not already been presented in more interesting contexts. “Wenn Mein…’s” problems are Mangelsdorff’s occasional flights of romanticism and Van Hove’s rather dire classicism; but there’s some fine playing from Han Bennink and some good ensemble work midway into the piece.
By the time we get to Outspan 2, three years later, we see that the intention of the music of Brötzmann, Van Hove, and Bennink has changed more than anything else. This is music that is absolutely full of humor, but without a compromise in the level of musicianship. In fact, the humor – the musicians’ utter refusal to take what they are doing too seriously – is the most refreshing aspect of the recording. Han Bennink is not quite so overwhelming as on the earlier LPs, but in the interim he’s built himself a homemade clarinet and he uses it to produce some funny tongue-in-cheek accompaniments. Brötzman has added a clarinet to his sound arsenal – along with alto sax and “brotzophon” (!) – and proves to be quite good on it. The music has a bright carnival atmosphere about it (it’s a very live recording), and it features everything from Van Hove chasing after villains in top hats to the band’s brief irreverent homage to the German polka. This is a true performer’s art, almost vaudevillian in character and probably only partially able to be appreciated on record. Yet it’s thoroughly enjoyable and perhaps fully as important in its own way (and certainly every bit as ambitious) as the group’s earlier releases. Recommended along with at least one or two of the “Free Music Market” recordings.
Henry Kuntz, 1975
LIVE IN BERLIN ‘71FMP CD 34/35
Brötzmann / Van Hove / Bennink plus Albert Mangelsdorff Peter Brötzmann-tenor saxophone; Albert Mangelsdorff-trombone, voice; Fred Van Hove-upright piano; Han Bennink-drums, khene, vibraphone, kaffir-piano, dhung, dung-dkar, gachi, oe-oe, elong, home-made junk, voice, tins. Recorded live by Eberhard Sengpiel on August 28th, 1971 (Disc 1) and August 29th, 1971 (Disc 2) during the Free Music Market at the Quartier Latin in Berlin. Tape revision: Jost Gebers. Mastered by Jonas Bergler. Produced by Jost Gebers. Liner notes: Wolfgang Burde. Translation: Cristina Crawley.
1 Florence Nightingale (Van Hove) – 19:57
2 Elements (Brötzmann) – 15:36
3 Antwarrepe (Van Hove) – 8:42
4 Alberts (Mangelsdorff) – 10:54
1 Couscouss de la mauresque (Brötzmann) – 20:54
2 Wenn mein Schätzlein auf die Pauke haut (Bennink) – 18:42
3 The end (Brötzmann) – 22:55
BOOKLET: Design/Layout: Peter Brötzmann. Photos: Dagmar Gebers. REMARK: Free Music Production first released the music on this double CD on three records in 1971 (FMP 0030, FMP 0040, FMP 0050). The altered compilation presented here is equivalent to the two concerts given in Berlin on August 28th and 29th, 1971and based on the original recording tapes. These concerts were the first given by the Brötzmann / Van Hove / Bennink Trio with Albert Mangelsdorff – except for a session which took place during the Total Music Meeting in 1970 at the Quartier Latin.
selected Han Bennink recordings:
selected Peter Brötzmann recordings:
Peter Brötzmann biography:
Peter Brötzmann (born March 6, 1941) is a German free jazz saxophonist and clarinetist.
Brötzmann is among the most important European free jazz musicians. His rough, lyrical timbre is easily recognized on his many recordings.
He studied painting in Wuppertal and was involved with the Fluxus movement, but grew dissatisfied with art galleries and exhibitions. He has not abandoned his art training, however: Brötzmann has designed most of his own album covers. He first taught himself to play various clarinets, then saxophones; he is also known for playing the tárogató. Among his first musical partnerships was that with double bassist Peter Kowald.
For Adolphe Sax, Brötzmann’s first recording, was released in 1967 and featured Kowald and drummer Sven-Ake Johansson.
1968 saw the release of Machine Gun, an octet recording often listed among the most notable free jazz albums. One critic has written Machine Gun offers “a heavy-impact sonic assault so aggressive it still knocks listeners back on their heels decades later.” The logistical difficulties of touring with an octet resulted in Brötzmann eventually slimming the group to a trio with Han Bennink and Fred Van Hove.
In the 1980s, Brötzmann flirted with heavy metal and noise rock, including a stint in Last Exit.
Brötzmann has remained active, touring and recording regularly. He has released over thirty albums as a bandleader, and has appeared on dozens more. His “Die Like A Dog Quartet” (with Toshinori Kondo, William Parker and Hamid Drake) is loosely inspired by saxophonist Albert Ayler, a prime influence on Brötzmann’s music. Since 1997 he has toured and recorded regularly with the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet (initially an Octet).
Brötzmann has since recorded or performed with many musicians, including Cecil Taylor, Evan Parker, Han Bennink, Bill Laswell, Frank Wright, William Parker, Willem Breuker, Willem van Manen, Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, Conny Bauer and Brötzmann’s son, Caspar Brötzmann, a notable guitarist in his own right.
Han Bennink biography:
Han Bennink (born April 17, 1942) is a Dutch jazz drummer, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist.
Bennink was born in Zaandam, the son of a classical percussionist. He played the drums and the clarinet during his teens. Through the 1960s he drummed with a number of American musicians visiting the Netherlands, including Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and Eric Dolphy (he can be heard on Dolphy’s final studio recording, Last Date (1964)).
He subsequently became a central figure in the emerging European free improvisation scene. In 1963 he formed a quartet with pianist Misha Mengelberg and saxophonist Piet Noordijk which had a number of different bassists and which played at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival, and in 1967 he was a co-founder of the Instant Composers Pool with Mengelberg and Willem Breuker, which sponsored Dutch avant garde performances. From the late 1960s he played in a trio with saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and Belgian pianist Fred Van Hove, which became a duo after Van Hove’s departure in 1976. Through much of the 1990s he played in Clusone 3 (also known as the Clusone Trio), a trio with saxophonist and clarinetist Michael Moore and cellist Ernst Reijseger. He has often played duos with Mengelberg and collaborated with him alongside other musicians.
As well as playing with these long-standing groups, Bennink has performed and recorded solo (Tempo Comodo (1982) being among his solo recordings) and played with many free improvisation and free jazz luminaries including Derek Bailey, Conny Bauer, Don Cherry and Alexander von Schlippenbach, as well as more conventional jazz musicians like Lee Konitz.
Bennink’s style is wide-ranging, running from conventional jazz drumming to highly unconventional free improvisation, for which he often uses whatever objects happen to be onstage (chairs, music stands, instrument cases), his own body (a favourite device involves putting a drumstick in his mouth and striking it with the other stick), and the entire performance space — the floor, doors, and walls. He makes frequent use of birdcalls and whatever else strikes his fancy (one particularly madcap performance in Toronto in the 1990s involved a deafening fire alarm bell placed on the floor). He is also a talented multi-instrumentalist, and on occasion his recordings have featured his playing on clarinet, violin, banjo and piano.
Han is the brother of the saxophonist Peter Bennink.
Fred Van Hove biography:
Born 1937 in Antwerp, Belgium; piano, accordion, church organ, composer.
Fred Van Hove studied piano, theory and harmony at the Music Academy in Belgium and experimented with several jazz styles and dance music before making the transition to free improvisation with local musicians (Zinzen, Van De Ven and Wanders). He has been a professional free-lance musician since 1964.
1966 saw the beginning of Van Hove’s collaboration with Peter Brötzmann, initially in quartet or larger groupings (eg Machine Gun), then stabilising in a trio format (with Han Bennink) for five to six years; in 1995 contact with Brötzmann was renewed when the two played a duo as part of the ‘Pool’ at the Free Music XXII in Antwerp in August. His first solo concerts were played at the Avant-garde festival Gravensteen, Ghent, in 1970 and Jazz Middleheim, in Antwerp in 1971. In 1972, working as a duo with Belgian sax player Cel Overberghe, he refused to play at the Middelheim festival as a result of a dispute over the grossly differential fees being paid to visiting American musicians on the one hand and European musicians on the other. This dispute led to the foundation of the musicians collective WIM vzw, Werkgroep Improviserende Musici, whose aim was to improve the situation of free music in Belgium. Fred Van Hove has been Chairman of WIM since then.
From 1976, and in collaboration with, for example, De Andere Film Antwerp & Ghent, Dommelhof Neerpeilt (Belgium), and Filmhaus Berlin, he has provided solo accompaniment to silent movies, particularly experimental films of the 1920s (Griffiths, Porter, Murnau, Lang, Dreyer, among others) as well as comedies and animations. He has also performed regularly with duo partners who have included: Steve Lacy; Vinko Globokar; Lol Coxhill; Albert Mangelsdorf; Annick Nozati; Phil Wachsmann; André Goodbeek; Paul Van Gyseghem.
From the end of the 1970s, Van Hove formed a number of groups utilising the initials MLA (Musica Libera Antverpiae) and MLB (Musica Libera Belgicae) or similar. The first MLA, formed in 1978, was a group of variable composition from a nucleus of seven musicians: three strings; three brass; piano. This undertook several tours and festivals (e.g. at Jazz Middelheim, and London). In 1979, MLA Blek comprised Marc Charig on trumpet and Radu Malfatti and Paul Rutherford on trombones and toured Italy. Formed in 1980, though recorded in 1982, the ML DD 4 consisted of Marc Charig, Phil Wachsmann and Günther ‘Baby’ Sommer on percussion and toured through several ex-DDR European countries. In 1983, Fred Van Hove was invited to Berlin by the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) as artist in residence for six months, April to October. During this time he took the opportunity to play concerts with MLA, MLA Blek and ML DD 4, but also to play extensively with local musicians in a series of MLBB: Berliner Begegnungen or Berlin Encounters.
In the mid-80s, Fred Van Hove undertook several tours of Japan playing solo and duos with a wide variety of musicians including percussionist Sabu Toyozumi, bass player Tetsu Saitoh; and US and European musicians such as: Ned Rothenberg; Douglas Ewart; Peter Kowald; Hans Reichel; Evan Parker; and Barry Guy. A three-day Van Hove festival was held at the concert hall Space Who, Saitama, celebrating its 5th anniversary.
The Belgisch Pianokwartet was formed in 1984, four pianists at 2 grands, originally consisting of Walter Hus, Christian Leroy and Eddy Loozen, but more recently with Marilyn Crispell replacing Hus and the group name becoming ‘t Pianokwartet. The MLB III trio with André Goudbeek, saxophone, and Ivo Vander Borght, percussion was formed around the same time, recorded in 1988 and toured the former DDR (with trumpeter Andy Altenfeldert), Spain and the Netherlands. Since 1988 the trio with the French singer Annick Nozati and the German trombonist Johannes Bauer has recorded and toured and, from 1991, ‘t Nonet has performed, comprising: Marc Charig or Axel Dörner, trumpet; Annick Nozati, voice; Paul Rutherford and Johannes Bauer, trombones; Benoit Viredaz, tuba, Evan Parker or John Butcher and André Goudbeek, saxophones; and Ivo Vander Borght, percussion. Cooperation with other musicians has included Luc Houtkamp, Connie Bauer and Wolfgang Fuchs.
Fred Van Hove has cooperated with poets and painters (the action painter W.J.C. Free) and held seminars and workshops on improvisation in Antwerp, Tilberg, Ghent, Amsterdam, in England and Germany and, since 1990, at Département d’Etudes Musicales, University Lille 3, France. In June 1996 the Belgium government conferred on Fred Van Hove the title of Cultural Ambassador of Flanders 1996, an award that included a grant for touring outside of Belgium.