A musical innovator's sound is unmistakable. For example, listen to any thick slap by Mingus and you know it's him. From the opening moments of Triplicity
, there is no question that the trombone is Albert Mangelsdorff's.
Mangelsdorff, Germany's most famous musician, participated in many performances under the auspices of the NordDeutscher Rundfunk (German Radio) either as part of its big band or at its many workshops, opportunities for European musicians and Americans either traveling or living abroad to come together in exciting one-off combinations. All of these sessions were recorded and broadcast in excellent quality.Triplicity
is one of the gems from the NDR archive. It marks the first (and only?) appearance of the trio of Mangelsdorff, Swiss drummer Pierre Favre, and Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen (though given the multinational state of European jazz, they must have crossed paths numerous times). Mangelsdorff and Favre are examples of musicians coming from traditional backgrounds who went on to embrace the avant-garde. Andersen was part of The Esoteric Circle, Norway's first original-sounding jazz group.
The combination of these three musicians on this April 1979 recording is a fascinating one. Favre had spent much of the '70s creating new vocabularies for percussion, primarily in a solo context. Mangelsdorff, after having worked with the same quartet for almost a decade, cut several albums during this era with different groups and also developed his own solo forms. Andersen was just beginning to develop the Nordic sound for which ECM would become famous.
Here they play tunes but not simple forms that belie a lack of preparedness. Mangelsdorff, who shoulders most of the composing chores, always was able to write "catchy melodic pieces that had room for expansive collective improvisation. In Favre, he found a drummer excellent at timekeeping who never sacrificed creativity or was heavy-handed. Andersen, given the open structures of the music, is another lead instrument, virtuosic enough for lots of counterpoint.
Mangelsdorff has always been a hard bop musician at heart, even when playing free-ish. The three distinct textures fill out the tonal range and leave plenty of room. No piece is too long, the proceedings are fully cooperative, and the excellent recording quality means no subtlety is neglected. A superb album in the vein of Mangelsdorff's earlier disc Trilogue
, recorded with Jaco Pastorius and Alphonse Mouzon at the 1976 Berlin Jazz Days.
[Note: At press time, Mangelsdorff passed away at age 76 in Frankfurt, Germany.]
Personnel: Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; Arild Andersen: bass; Pierre Favre: drums.