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Alfred Harth: Forty Years of Synaesthetic Improvisation

By Published: January 5, 2009
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Pinning Down the Tribes

AAJ: What's interesting to me is that the most visible of your recent recordings is within more of a jazz context, Trio Viriditas, which involves so little of your working process. Do you have thoughts about that, getting noticed for something which is just a certain aspect?

AH: I think not many people know my work in the first place, and that's a little sad. My other friends get more recognition, and it's always that which makes you fly and motivates you a bit. I'm not too happy about not being so well-known; it's not that I need applause every day, but I do need something to keep going on!

Alfred Harth

But the point is to have among your diverse talents that of selling yourself, and that's not a talent that I have. I want to show myself and put myself in the position that people can see what I've done in a better way—but I accept less recognition and try not to get down about it. I continue working, I don't do many concerts, and that's how it is. Even if it all goes down into a hole I will thankfully accept it!

AAJ: Do you still teach at all?

AH: No, no, I did that only in the Seventies before getting famous with Heiner Goebbels. That put me in a good position economically, while I was also doing compositions for theater and for television which paid very well. From there on I could invest my money, so I am in the position of being independent from economic worries and I'm very lucky. I was seeking freedom like this for a long time, so I didn't have to phone clubs and play gigs here and there. I have a choice. And this is a really good thing, but I do get enemies in the music scene—musicians who struggle and have to do work that they don't like, and they see me able to do things independently and it creates envy. Once you realize this it's a bit sad. I have to say I want to go to the United States in a fresh way and innocently, and I don't want to be blamed for my right to be free both musically and personally.

I am positive though, and I don't want to look too much at the negative. Everybody, I hope, is looking to the light and that's what I'm trying to do. But just so you know, I do feel a little bit of the blues as a result.

Selected Discography

7000 Oaks, 7k Oaks (Die Schachtel, 2008)
Harth/Irmler/Mueller, Taste Tribes (For4Ears, 2008)
Trio Viriditas, Live at the Vision Festival 2001 (Clean Feed, 2008)
Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Orchestra, Out To Lunch (Doubt Music, 2006)
Alfred Harth & Peter Brotzmann, Go No Go (FMP, 1987)
Cassiber, Beauty and the Beast (ReR, 1984)
Heiner Goebbels/Alfred Harth, Hommage/Vier Fauste Fur Hanns Eisler (FMP, 1978; ReR, 2004)
EMT, Canadian Cup of Coffee (SAJ, 1972)
Alfred Harth/Nicole Van Den Plas/Peter Stock/Franz Vollhard/Thomas Cremer, 4.Januar 1970 (self-released, 1970)
Various Artists (incl. Just Music and Lester Bowie's European Free Jazz Orchestra), Born Free: 12th German Jazzfestival 1970 (Scout, 1970)
Just Music, Just Music (ECM, 1969)

Photo Credits

Top and Group Photos: Courtesy of Alfred Harth
Bottom Photo: Geert Vandepoele

Featured Story: Yi Soonjoo

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