Gone, now more than twenty years ago, guitarist Sonny Sharrock
passing in 1994 seems like just yesterday. Maybe it is because his inexhaustible larger-than-life sound still permeates the music of today's free jazz community. This recording, from 1987 is a hidden gem and treasured fragment, perhaps another Rosetta Stone that allows listeners to appreciate how the jazz and rock music worlds shattered into a million pieces in the 1960s, only to reconfigure into new and challenging ways.
Sharrock first met Peter Brötzmann
in 1969, as the saxophonist relates in the conversation interview book with Gerard Rouy We Thought We Could Change The World
(Wolke, 2014). The guitarist was touring as part of Herbie Mann
's band. But soon he was to change directions, recording A Tribute To Jack Johnson
(Columbia, 1971) with Miles Davis
. From there Sharrock continued to infuse free jazz with rock, playing in the Brotzmann inspired band Machine Gun with Robert Musso
and Thomas Chapin
. He was, inevitably invited to join the saxophonist in Last Exit with Ronald Shannon Jackson
, and Bill Laswell
. The rest as they say is history. But is it rock history? Or free jazz history? Perhaps free-punk-rock-noise history best describes it.
This duo with Brotzmann may be the only available recording besides the LP only limited edition Fragments
(Okka Disc, 2003) that was recorded in 1989. This session, from 1987 is another tour de force. Sharrock guitar playing, on first impressions is that he has the huge hands of a gloved soccer goalie. Yes, he can be blunt and edgeless with his sound, but also he carves tricky passages here not unlike those of Jimi Hendrix
. Sharrock matched up well with Brötzmann because he could command his guitar with the same bludgeoning effect the saxophonist held. His truncheon-on-truncheon sound here is an imagined meeting between Brotzmann and Albert Ayler
. Both players engage, respond, bluster, and resolve these eleven pieces with a mutual purpose and a reciprocity of sound. Raw and beautiful like a Paul Gauguin painting.
Personnel: Peter Brötzmann: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass saxophone; Sonny Sharrock: electric