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Hamburg guitarist Hans Fahling wrote eleven compositions for Hamburg, each accompanied by a Patrick Haskett painting in the liner notes. The artistic intent behind this dual presentation (funded by a number of international sponsors) is well-realized through a series of shifting moods and styles. However, the interdisciplinary approach on Hamburg disguises the high-level improvisational bent of the music considered on its own.
Fahling's German Quartet, responsible for a third of the tracks, operates smoothly and seamlessly. This group appears equally at home trading fours, serving up solos, or working together to expand melodic themes. Saxophonist Reichert uses his clear, bell-like tone to alternately support and offer contrast to Fahling's processed guitar sound. Fahling's regular solos rely upon intensely scalar construction, using a occasional slicing attack to emphasize turning points.
The remainder of the record, performed with the guitarist's American quartet, also displays a highly sympathetic sense of cohesion. While the other musicians in the group play in an inspired and effective fashion, it's Fahling's virtuosic winding solos that draw the most attention. It would be a stretch to describe Hamburg as cutting-edge jazz, but the record certainly offers a solid contribution within the well-traveled category of bop.
Track Listing: Looming Out of the Fog; Savage Fair; Golden Seven; How Deep Are You?; To Walk at Night; Russian Ships at Hamburg; Hopes and Dreams; Ready to Take Lines; What Do You See?; Gibraltar to Starboard; Sunday Rain.
Personnel: Hans Fahling: guitar; Ralph Reichert: tenor saxophone; Andreas Henze: acoustic bass; Wolfgang Roggenkamp: drums; Aaron Birrell: tenor saxophone; Phil Sparks: bass; Steve Korn: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.