All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

344

Wolfgang Dauner: Free Action

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Wolfgang Dauner is yet another case of an artist who's achieved a considerable reputation in Europe, but for whom greater exposure in North America has remained elusive. The multidisciplinary keyboardist has done everything from free jazz to opera, and can be heard in fine jazz/rock form on Don "Sugar Cane" Harris' recently released 1972 MPS disc, Sugar Cane's Got the Blues (Promising Music/MPS, 2008). First released in 1967, Free Action is another MPS recording that's been long overdue for CD issue and, thanks to Promising Music, it's now possible to hear what was going on in Europe at the time, while largely unbeknownst to North American jazz fans.



Dauner's septet features three artists who have gone on to varying degrees of international recognition: reedman Gerd Dudek, bassist Eberhard Weber (heard here on cello) and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. For those only familiar with Ponty's later fusion work, his playing on Free Action will come as a surprise; it's also enlightening to hear Weber in a freer context, since his own ECM discography, while providing room for improvisation, is far more structured than the more extreme freedom of Dauner's music.



That's not to say there isn't structure to Free Action's five Dauner compositions. "Sketch Up and Downer" begins with a free exchange between Weber and bassist Jürgen Karg, with the rest of the septet—including drummers Mani Neumeier and Fred Brace—gradually joining in, leading to Dauner's knotty theme that establishes a harmonic center. Ponty's energetic solo takes place over a fiery swing, despite retaining a turbulent undercurrent. Dudek's tenor solo is more tempestuous still, as both drummers create a maelstrom with a pulse while Dauner accompanies with staggered block chords. Even as Weber becomes more unfettered and spirals further outward, Dauner's solo leads into a section that combines spontaneity with cued figures before reiterating the opening theme.

"Disguise" reflects a pervasive interest in East Indian music that began with jazz musicians in the 1960s. Neumeir switches to tabla and the group adopts a more linear approach, but freedom still reigns, with Dauner's prepared piano a jagged backdrop for in tandem soloing by Karg and Weber. The abstruse "Free Action Shot" uses graphic, rather than conventional, notation (reprinted in the CD booklet), allowing the musicians maximum liberty within a set of predefined textural parameters independent of time, pitch and tone. With a group of improvisers less concerned about personal contribution than the collective whole, Ponty still stands out, if only because it's so surprising to hear him in the context of Dauner's unconventional settings.



Dauner would go on to record a trio album with Weber and Brace for ECM (1970's Output), but the majority of his 1960s-1970s output as a leader was for MPS. A challenging record that's not for the faint-at-heart, Free Action is nevertheless a fine introduction for those unfamiliar with the pianist's work, and a welcome release for those who've been patiently waiting for its issue on CD.


Track Listing: Sketch Up and Downer; Disguise; Free Action Shot; My Spanish Disguise; Collage.

Personnel: Wolfgang Dauner: piano, prepared piano; Jean-Luc Ponty: violin; Gerd Dudek: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Eberhard Weber: cello; J

Title: Free Action | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Promising Music/MPS

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Ancestros CD/LP/Track Review
Ancestros
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 18, 2018
Read The Bitter Suite CD/LP/Track Review
The Bitter Suite
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 18, 2018
Read Ornettiquette CD/LP/Track Review
Ornettiquette
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 18, 2018
Read The Astral Revelations CD/LP/Track Review
The Astral Revelations
by John Sharpe
Published: November 18, 2018
Read The Sound Of The Earth CD/LP/Track Review
The Sound Of The Earth
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2018
Read Return to the Future CD/LP/Track Review
Return to the Future
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 17, 2018
Read "Turbamulta" CD/LP/Track Review Turbamulta
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 21, 2018
Read "Unleashed" CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Trane Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Trane Stories
by Rex Butters
Published: November 9, 2018
Read "Back to the Sunset" CD/LP/Track Review Back to the Sunset
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 6, 2018
Read "20" CD/LP/Track Review 20
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018