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Peter Brötzmann: Balls (2002)

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Peter Brötzmann: Balls No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. So too, is delicacy. One man's swirling maelstrom of free jazz is another's meditative moment. For Peter Brötzmann, the saxophonist often at the center of that whirlpool of sound, serenity can be found in and between the surges of energy.

In the late 1960s his core trio was made up of pianist Fred Van Hove and drummer Han Bennink. Together they stirred the European free jazz scene. From its foundation, the trio (and invited guests) recorded numerous sessions of Europe's "new thing" including the seminal Machine Gun (FMP) recording of Brötzmann's free jazz octet in 1968 and sextet/quartet Nipples (Unheard Music Series 1969). But it is the trio dates Live In Berlin '71 (FMP), Tschus (FMP 1975), and the long out of print Balls, from 1970, that hold enduring attraction.

Between the waves of sound, pummeling of keys, and beating of tom-toms lie artful moments of free jazz joy. Bennink always has needle sharp-witted responses to everyone and everything. He even blows through a shell to reply to Brötzmann's delivery. The trio edges in and out of moments of abandon with paused silence and bare minimal offerings of sound. Van Hove's fifteen-fingered ramblings dot the sentences of the German's horn. But truth is divulged in those "in-between" moments. The band exhales and works through fierce yet irenic passages.

Yes, Virginia, there are the famous power surges, frantic keyboard runs, and creative percussiveness associated with these musicians. But it?s those moments of hesitant ecstasy that endure here.

Track Listing: Balls; Garten; Filet Americain; De Daag Waarop Sipke Eindelijk Zijn Nagels Knipte, En Verder Alle Andere A Moten Voor Hem Openstonden I.C.P.; Untitled 1; Untitled 2.

Personnel: Peter Brötzmann: Tenor Saxophone; Fred Van Hove: Piano; Han Bennink: Drums, Gachi, Shell, Voice.

Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide

Style: Modern Jazz


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