Gunter Hampel: Vibes Vibes (Vibrafon Solos 2008) (2009)
From the opening moments of the title track to the end of the disc, we enter a world where the vibes are recorded close, unadorned and with no overdubs. That said, the many emotions that inform each moment become clearer with each airing. Listen to the first gestures in "Stretching," where a loudly struck ringing note, replete with overtones, fades into a long sustained sonority with the elegance of a natural phenomenon. The harmonies come out of Berg and early Webern while the semi-swung rhythms often hint at jazz' long history until a pedaled pentatonic chord sweeps all away. On "Skyrider," a pianissimo opening is interrupted suddenly by an upward flourish and then all recedes for two disembodied and ghostly tritones; the effect is breathtaking.
These juxtapositions occur throughout all of what are presumably improvisations, though there might be structures at play on some level. The harmonies move along with such fluidity and ease that only Andrew Hill's piano solos inhabit similar territory. It is as if we were being allowed a glimpse into Hampel's stream of consciousness, a constantly morphing confluence of his decades of musical experience. He has created a cinematic experience, with all attendant beauty and surprise and it's best to simply sit back and listen to it all unfold.
Personnel: Gunter Hampel: vibes.
Record Label: Birth Records
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde