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Live Reviews

An Exhausting Broztmann and Bennink

By Published: October 26, 2006

Throughout a career span of over forty years, Brötzmann has created and shaped his primal aural landscape into an existential colloquy with the listener. His is music of considerable pain and anger. Whether roosted in personal philosophical frustrations, or larger geo-political concerns, or mere hostility to the intractable traditionalist culture of mainstream media avenues, the cause is irrelevant. The listener should absorb Brötzmann's propulsive intensity and utilize the distinctive language for personal reflection. Any encounter with his music, whether in a recorded context or as a witness to a live performance is, or should be, an exhausting experience. It is a cathartic exercise into primal expressive therapy; succumb to the form. While many listeners may insist upon focusing upon more pleasant and escapist artistic forms, Brötzmann's language brings us closer to a darker part of our existence. We may not always enjoy the discourse, but we emerge healthier as a result. His voice is singular within the improvised art form. High art, indeed.

A friend recently remarked that the devolution of the retail music store, sweeping corporate conglomerate ownership of media outlets and a dwindling selection of available performance venues have forced the independent music arena to resemble early religious groups. The latter huddle in underground grottoes with their treasured tomes and exchange interpretations of the sacred texts, all in an effort to save their respective souls. He commented that unpopular music forms will follow a similar fate; we will clutch our ancient records and compact discs and trade clandestine news of recent developments, hopelessly hoping that others will share our views. Whether such an assessment is accurate or not, we must respect those avenues that offer us exposure to these art forms.

Accordingly, and as I have in the past, I must express considerable admiration for "An Die Musik". It is rapidly becoming one of the most important performance venues on the Eastern seaboard, south of New York City. Its seventy-five seat second floor room is an intimate space for musical conversations. It showcases jazz, improv, classical and world music events several times each week. A partial roster of performances in just the last two years is awe inspiring; William Parker, Dave Burrell, Ralph Towner, David Murray, Tomasz Stanko, Andrew Hill, Bobo Stenson, Henry Grimes, Marshall Allen, Fred Hersch, Reggie Workman... The list continues. Nevertheless, the only accolade it could receive in this year's "Best of Baltimore" contest was the "best chairs" award. Support the musicians and those who have the courage to present their art to the public.

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