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Euphorium_freakestra: Grande Casino

Glenn Astarita By

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Indeed, the earth can be a delightfully bizarre habitat. With this ten-piece aggregation assembled by pianist, musicologist Oliver Schwerdt and featuring legendary improvisers Barry Guy (bass) and Gunter 'Baby' Sommer (drums, perc), ideas, and perhaps life itself penetrate through unchartered peripheries of time and reason.

This European ensemble toys with your psyche due to electro-acoustic hyper futuristic avant-garde fare, abetted by the estimable tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler and all involved parties. However, this is not easy listening in the strict sense, but there are playful and low-key free-form extravaganzas, supplemented with cunning surprises integrated throughout.

Variety is a core ingredient on this album. The instrumental mix intimates an asymmetrical sequence of untamed and zany progressions, aligned with sparse tonal swashes amid Sommer's rumbling drums and world-music style percussion treatments, coupled with electronics and otherworldly occurrences.

Organist Daniel Beilschmidt's sweeping parts add a bit of roughhousing to various motifs, but Maik Muezzin & Euclid at Westparka (What are these creatures that pray there?)" is led by Denzler's microtonal sax lines that tender stark portraitures and high-pitched terror. The band puts your emotive aspects to the test with a fourth-dimensional rite of passage, framed on ethereal percussion opuses and numerous contrasts, compounded by Sommer's squeaky cymbal hits and Guy's brawny arco lines during "Seven."

There are many quiet and introspective theme-building excursions, tempered with faint soundscapes and pianist Oliver Schwerdt's nervy sub-plots and hyper-mode circular phrasings. With "Fractal Costume" the saxophonists' minimalism via extended notes becomes somewhat cerebral as they use space in between choruses to enact a sparse soundstage, yet "Grandma Eggshell (The fire gets cold)" is a contoured bumping and grinding free jazz workout accelerated by the drummer's powerful and swift maneuvers.

Other works feature more acoustic-electric electronics, crunching organ notes, grandiose opuses and buoyantly paced tribal patterns through a stifling wasteland, counterbalanced with old school jazz quotes and sinister noise-shaping movements. For starters, think of Cubism and Constructivist artistic connotations or a wildly inventive socio-musical statement. Either way, the ensemble charts an alternative course to just about any musical genre that we know of.

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).


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.

Album information

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


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