Musical vanguardist and multi-instrumentalist Gunter Hampel has been under the spell of jazz since the end of WWII. By the end of the '50s, he was already a full-fledged European professional jazz musician and by the '60s, he had made lasting inroads into the North American jazz scene. Operating out of Germany and the USA, after living in New York and several European cities throughout his life, Hampel continues to be active at jazz' leading edge. His notable career involves encyclopedic collaboration with North American and continental jazz legends, as well as a much younger generation of players.
Dances, a 1969 Paris recording and the second in Hampel's Birth Records catalogue, is now available on CD remastered from the original record tapes. At the time, Downbeat gave it 4½ stars. In this solo effort, he engages into nine "dances ...a recurring motif in Hampel's artistic rationale. As such, they range from the painfully economical "sawing of a prepared piano in "Dance for Piano No. 5 ...that lends itself to the type of parody cartoon series South Park did with minimalist composer Philip Glass...to three imaginative and subtle vibraphone-led pieces, on to reed and flute performances that, after 36 years, have only improved in character and nuance.
On Fire: Hierseins-Erfahrungen (To-be-here-experiences) culls music from a three-hour live festival performance in January 2004. Accompanied by performers that could be his grandsons, Hampel played vibes, bass clarinet and flute. Johannes Schleiermacher and Sven Decker play tenor and alto saxophones...with the latter also on clarinet. Bernd Ozsevi performed on drums and Prince Alegs and Hichem were the dancers. Conceived as "seven celebrations of the moment movements for four musicians and two dancers ...although only five seem to appear in the CD...the compositions, sans whatever contributions the dancers offered in their interactions with the music and the performers, are not willy-nilly meanderings. Their twisted linearity discloses polyglotal impetuses that encompass as much tradition...not necessarily limited to the most established jazz styles as the initial progressions of the second movement readily illustrate...as ultramodern thinking. The technical quality of the recording isn't much of an issue for the average listener. The quality of the group performances and their soli is non-pareil.
Hampel wisely surrounds himself with young musicians that can both keep up with him as well as push the proverbial envelope. Emission, a recent live-in-studio recording, features Hampel's European trio to great effect. Once again, we meet both Schleiermacher and Ozsevi. This isn't a rehash of previous music, as Hampel's compositional well never dries up, though his characteristic jazz flavor is still evident. One can readily ascertain why his young companions are regarded as some of the best German jazz musicians and why their leader is such an established musical figure.
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Tracks: 1. Dance for Flute No. 2 (G. Hampel) 2. Dance for Flute No. 3 (G. Hampel) 3. Naima l.h. Dance for Vibraphone No. 2 (G. Hampel) 4. Dance for Bass Clarinet No. 1 (G. Hampel) 5. Dance for Vibraphone No. 3 (G. Hampel) 6. Dance for Piano No. 5 (G. Hampel) 7. Dance for Vibraphone No. 4 (G. Hampel) 8. Dance for Flute No. 2 (G. Hampel) 9. Dance for Bass Clarinet No. 2 (G. Hampel)
Personnel: Gunter Hampel: flute, vibraphone, bass clarinet, piano, seashell, African stone drums, whistling, walking, humming & dancing.
On Fire: Hierseins-Erfahrungen (To-be-here-experiences)
Tracks: Seven celebrations of the moment movements for four musicians and two dancers by Gunter Hampel.
Personnel: Gunter Hampel: vibraphone, bass clarinet & flute. Johannes Schleiermacher: Tenor & alto sax. Sven Decker: Tenor, alto sax & clarinet. Bernd Ozsevi: Drums. Prince Alegs & Hichem: Dancers.
Tracks: 1. (No. 119o) Who Are You If You Can't Be Yourself? (G. Hampel) 2. (1191) Emission Workout (G. Hampel) 3. (1192) Emission Wheel + Smiling Energy (G. Hampel) 4. (1193) Emission Friday (G. Hampel) 5. +6 (1194) Emission Celestial Travellin' (G. Hampel) 7. (1195) Emission 2004 (G. Hampel)
Personnel: G. Hampel: vibraphone, bass clarinet, flute. Johannes Schleiermacher: Tenor & alto sax. Bernd Oezsevim: Drums.