Zentralquartett / Synopsis: Auf Der Elbe Schwimmt Ein Rosa Krokodil (2008)
This is a reissue of music recorded in March of 1974 and first released by the FMP label in 1976. The decades haven't diminished its fire and the fact that the group has reconvened and recorded occasionally through the years since marks this as the first document of an ongoing story.
Communal improvisation is the order of the day, but echoes of New Orleans polyphony are very distant. Instead there's restlessly creative music of a radically different order on the opening "Krisis Eines Krokodils," where by turns the music is intense in its pursuit of some ecstatic peace, then reflective, as if each of the musicians is only too conscious of the presence of the others. In the more voluble passages drummer Gunther Sommer comes on with Tony Oxley's hyperactivity, yet the music still keeps group integrity with Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky's alto sax notable for the way it avoids any relation to the work of otherssuch as Marion Brown or John Tchicaiin this musical area.
His duet with Conrad Bauer's trombone on "Zweisam" is the work of musicians with big ears (in a sense other than the physical); such are the results that it could go on a whole lot longer than it does without any loss of musical quality.
Even at this relatively early stage of his career on record, Bauer shows how appreciative he was of his instrument's expressive capabilities. His work on the title track forcibly makes the point, with the music seemingly coming in waves, as if the group had tapped some potent source of collective energy. Sommer, the colorist, shows his worth here with pianist Ulrich Gumpert making his own presence felt with a measure of intensity all his own.
This however isn't entirely music without roots other than the ones the musicians were nurturing in the moment. "Mehr Aus Teutschen Landen" is a folk piece subject to Gumpert's arrangement and the result is what used to be called a gas. The idiosyncratic approach makes for a major injection of overt high spirits that might have the listener ruing the fact that it doesn't happen on record more often.
Track Listing: Krisis Eines Krokodils; Zweisam; Auf Der Elbe Schwimmt Ein Rosa Krokodils’ Petting Zu (Take IV); Take IV; Mehr Aus Teutschen Landen.
Personnel: Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky: saxophones; Conrad Bauer: trombone; Ulrich Gumpert: piano; Gunther Sommer: drums, percussion.