Composer and tubist Carl Ludwig Hübsch once released a CD of 119 solo tuba pieces. Actually only 99 could fit on the single disc! Try to imagine the record producer having the conversation with the artist, "Sorry Carl, we are going to have to either edit some of this material that runs nearly two minutes or cut a few of the thirty-second songs out all together. Yikes.
His band Primordial Soup is made up of German free jazz stars, yet they are called upon to navigate some very complex compositions. That is not to say that the pieces do not allow for some extended improvisation. It is just the knowing where the written stops and the free starts that is beyond recognition.
The opening track, a twelve-minute introduction into Primordial Soup's mission statement tentatively slips across as a classical piece of music that is extendedelongated and infused with improvisation tools. Midway through "NGC 2271 Hades B the logical progression of the composition stops. The nothingness begins again with trumpeter Axel Dörner's whispered breath technique. Is it the same song, but with a written passage of silence? It certainly must bethe breathy growls and uttered tones, whether improvised or notated, are mood stabilizers.
It is as if the composer has written with tools that are all now familiar within free jazz; he has simply gathered them into his color palate for music making. The obvious reference for a track like "NGC 2273 Vier/Four, with the off-kilter measure and the tuba bottom is Anthony Braxton. But Hübsch is less serious (in the best sense of the word) than Braxton. Compositions written here must have been developed with the individual players in mind. Hübsch allows the familiar playing of Dörner and Gratkowski to blossom as he does not straightjacket each player by his writing. For his part, the drummer Michael Griener is a colorist and a fine collaborator with the other players.
This music might be one of the finer examples of how free jazz can be tailored into not randomly coherent, but orchestrated, coherence.