First Contempo Festival Events in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
The Italian punk-jazz trio Zu Luca T. Mai on processed baritone sax, Jacopo Battaglia on drums, and extraordinary electric bassist Massimo Pupillo closed this evening with a short set. Zu, who are known for their frequent collaborations with such prominent improvisers as Ken Vandermark, Mats Gustafsson, Thurston Moore and Mike Patton, featured material from their new release, Carboniferous (Ipecac, 2009). On the new release as on this set, Zu manages to bridge punk aesthetics of playing fast and extremely rapid passages with short and powerful phrases along with maniacal and brutal, free-jazz articulations. Their own tight interplay sounded at times like a jazzier and humorous transformation of Japanese Tatsuya Yoshhida's drums and bass duos for his band, Ruins. This highly energetic set, with the constant bantering between drummer Battaglia and the audience, especially with anthemic tracks like the "Carbon," contributed to the feeling that such hyper-aggressive, pushed-to- the-edges playing cannot help but be an amusing experience.
Bassist Marino Pliakas and drummer Michael Wertmuller participated in the Contempo events in a joint concert of contemporary acoustic ensembles, the Israeli Nikel and the Berlin- based Mosaik ensembles, where they premiered a new composition by Wertmuller. Their set in Jerusalem, now as part of Peter Brotzmann's Full Blast trio, was something completely different. This trio still performs a high-octane version of free jazz, but as their new release, Black Hole (Atavistic, 2009) attests, their approach and delivery is much more sophisticated and collaborative now than it was in their first concert in Israel a year ago or on their debut release (Jazzwerkstatt, 2007). Not that Brotzmann's playing is less powerful and commanding than it was before before, or that the trio has lost its take-no-prisoners approach, but there is more now than sheer power and aggressiveness.
It was clear after a slow introduction that Brotzmann was angry about the too-colorful lighting in the Yellow Submarine club: "We are no fucking Rolling Stones," he roared, and as soon as the lights came down to a more natural mode, he began a long, emotional, bluesy solo, sometimes producing a ragged, low, vibrating sound from his alto sax, almost as if he were quoting Ben Webster. Pliakas was busy with producing a whole array of dense and fast chords from his electric bass, often taking the lead with complex riffs that were enhanced by his use of electronics, while Wertmuller pushed the trio with his relentless energy. Such intense support enabled Brotzmann to focus his solos on expressive and much more explicit feelingsanger, pain, sorrow, and a lot of compassion, with an uncompromising conviction that couldn't help but grab the listener's complete attention.