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Euphorium_freakestra: Grande Casino

Mark Corroto By

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It may be fitting that the very first translation of James Joyce's Ulysses was from English into German. What, you ask, does this have to do with the three- disc release Grande Casino by Euphorium_freakestra? It's not a suggestion to read (or attempt to read) Ulysses, a book so dense in its 730 pages that it is almost impenetrable. Its modernist, stream-of-consciousness writing is full of puns and parodies, formulated into 18 episodes, each written in a different style and voice, covering just one day in the life of its protagonist Leopold Bloom.

Consider this recording, with its more than two hours of music and ten musicians, to be the equivalent of one day in the life of Oliver Schwerdt, the pianist and organizer of this recording who also runs the adventurous label Euphorium Records. The equivalent of Joyce's multiple voices are the various sounds and improvisations represented by the musicians. The mostly German ensemble invited Swiss tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler, French alto saxophonist Pierre-Antoine Badaroux and British bassist Barry Guy to perform with the legendary free jazz drummer Gunter Baby Sommer.

The music is the equivalent of Company Week, the concerts that guitarist Derek Bailey organized in London from the late '70s until the mid- '90s. Like Bailey's affairs, anything can happen under the rubric of Euphorium_freakestra. Lineups change constantly, as does approach. For instance, Free Electric Supergroup (Euphorium Records, 2007) was an audacious take on the electric music of Miles Davis. Here, that pretense is shed for a mostly minimalist ploy and unobtrusive, almost imperceptible, interactions. There is plenty of meat on these bones, even if the musicians focus mainly on the marrow. This is free improvisation at its finest.

Much like Ulysses, trying to explain the plot is problematic. The players are content to dole out sound in bits and pieces, for the most part without regard to soloing. With Barry Guy in the house, obvious references to his band Iskra 1903/1912 arise, such as the same laser-like, concentrated improvisations reeled off in an insouciant manner. Like Ulysses, there are deep answers to questions not yet formulated somewhere within this unyielding recording. Sometimes it is well worth wading in and getting lost.

Track Listing: CD1: Phore I: The Cream Of The Heaviest Invite; Maik Muezzin & Euklid im Westparka (Was sind das für Geschöpfe, die da beten?); Interflug/Intershop; Zwei von dort (Telegraphenamt II) 2g; Das Gruselschloß II: Geh da nicht lang!, ich hab’s Dir doch gesagt... ‒ Disembowelment III (Flesh Aksch) 06; Phore II: Sieben: Schieben oder Ziehen (Fanfare Werogilongur); Syrdillischer Octus; Elion am lidurnesischen Schrein; Epilog: Daniel, Bertrand, Burkhard und die anderen, Pt. 1; CD2: Serielle Schwanenattacke; Fraktale Tracht; Oma Eierschecke (Bei der Feuerwehr wird der Kaffee kalt); Geschäfte in Übersee (Das vergessene Scheckheft für Gulde-B’fur); Fabel über Sechseck; Wandertag in Leipzig (Die Flugschanze); Epilog: Daniel, Bertrand, Burkhard und die anderen, Pt. 2 & 3; CD3: soujhmar #5; Beinwell-Krk; Anlauf auf’s Holz, Abstieg mit Salz; Ein kleines Marsmännchen macht Sauerkraut nach Rezept, dann Jazz für einen Kalender ; Return Of The Sun Of Sharif Scheckheft ‒ Hallo, wer ist da gerade? (Telegraphenamt IV); End Of Gannomiloctu Bleed, Bed & Shower (Naked In The Tower Rain); Marc Rothko Goes To Bath (Remembering Das Schild).

Personnel: Pierre-Antoine Badaroux: alto saxophone; Bertrand Denzler: tenor saxophone; Patrick Schanze: trumpet; Oliver Schwerdt: grand piano, percussion, little instruments; Daniel Beilschmidt: electric organ; Friedrich Kettlitz: electric guitar, little instruments; John Eckhardt: double bass; Barry Guy: double bass; Burkhard Beins: percussion; Günter Baby Sommer: drums, percussion, cymbals.

Title: Grande Casino | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Euphorium Records

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