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Brtzmann/Friis Nielsen/Uuskyla: Medicina (2004)

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Brötzmann/Friis Nielsen/Uuskyla: Medicina How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Peter Brötzmann is a German saxophonist who has explored the intense and dissonant worlds of jazz. Many critics claim that his pinnacle recording was with his octet in the 1968 session Machine Gun, one of the loudest, most intense and just plain frightening jazz albums of all time. Even the loudest metal bands cannot match its cacophony. Brötzmann has recruited two Scandinavian musicians who share the same first name for this session, though the drummer has an alternate spelling. This trio has been collaborating since the early '90s, so they clearly comprehend the aesthetic of the free approach.

Opening the disc is Peeter Uuskyla's loose composition aptly titled "Rocket Tango," where the drummer sets the track with his crisp cymbal work and jumping snare tone. This intro continues for a minute and thirty seconds, and then Brötzmann enters with an explosion of wailing cries from his alto saxophone, putting the listener at risk of being knocked off their feet along with Peter Friis Nielsen's ever-rubbery electric bass patterns. The interaction continues until the final minute of the piece where the tempo decreases and grooves lightly for a conclusion.

The beginning of "One, Two, Three, Free" is an exciting one, jumping among the whirling notes of the alto sax, the bass creating additional textures, and the drummer simply reacting to it. Brötzmann then engages with his tenor sax on the two pieces that follow, "Artemisa" and "Justicia," two madcap experiences that flourish on the trio's conversational aesthetic. "Some Ghosts Step Out" is my personal favorite track for a few reasons: one, its length (nearly fifteen minutes); two, the musicians' interaction; and three, Brötzmann's use of melody. He is able to conceive even the sweetest melodies into a screech-fest of his own, as exemplified on the piece. The even more awe-inspiring part is that the melody is still discernable!

"Here and Now" is a tonal investigation among the trio. Brötzmann performs on alto clarinet, producing palettes of sound in an almost ballad-like fashion as Friis Nielsen adds texture and color from his bass, while Uuskyla's brush work makes the beauty of the track succeed. On "Bones and Beans" Brötzmann produces more atonal palettes on his tarogato. It isn't necessarily dissonant, but this instrument from the clarinet family has yet to breach its familiarity.

The final piece, "Hard Times Blues," opens with Brötzmann playing a few bars of excellent blues as the drummer follows his lead. This continues on until the bassist enters within four minutes of the piece and all breaks loose for application and interaction. Within six minutes Brötzmann exits for a brief amount of time, which allows an intriguing interaction of bass and drums. Then a minute later, Brötzmann enters with a disjointed melody and just simply wailing until both Brötzmann and Nielsen exit to allow a nice little solo section for Uuskyla until everything just simply fades out. A beautiful conclusion for one of the best releases of 2004.

Track Listing: 1. Rocket Tango (06.58); 2. One, Two, Three, Free (09.43); 3. Artemisia (09.55); 4. Justicia (08.52); 5. Some ghosts step out (14.49); 6. Here and now (06.03); 7. Bones and beans (06.22); 8. Hard times blues (13.22).

Personnel: Peter Brtzmann-Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Tarogato, A-Clarinet; Peter Friis Nielsen-Electric Bass; Peeter Uuskyla-Drums.

Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide

Style: Modern Jazz


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