Good free jazz is like a trip to a carnival with its exotic and unfamiliar sights and sounds. Even for an experienced listener, the surprise of great instant composing never grows old. A prime example is Karacho!
by the befittingly named Big Bad Brötzmann Quintet. Like visiting the carnival, there are innumerable sound experiences encased within an all-embracing vibe, not disparate parts that fail to integrate.
Recorded in 2017 at the naTo club in Leipzig, Germany, pianist Oliver Schwerdt
invited the free jazz master Peter Brötzmann
to sit in for his compatriot Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky on reeds. Petrowsky, Brötzmann's senior by eight years, had retired from performing, but not without an impressive output on classic labels such as FMP, Intakt, and Konnex. Petrowsky was also featured in Schwerdt's New Old Luten Trio, Quintet and Septet. This continuation of the Schwerdt-led quintet music also includes bassists John Edwards
and John Eckhardt and drummer Christian Lillinger
The 50+ minutes of this set contains several crescendos, but the leitmotif here is the constant momentum of the performance. The engine for this drive is shared among the players. Early on it is the Cecil Taylor
-like work of Schwerdt. His piano attack is a two-handed tempest that inspires Lillinger to follow, igniting a patented Brötzmann tenor saxophone blast. Next up are the two bassists, their bowed versus plucked notes spark cymbal swipes, animated piano, and Lillinger's offbeat explorations. Switching between saxophone, clarinet, and tarogato, Brötzmann changes the performance's mood several times. He can evoke machine gun passions, summon a heart wrenching melancholy sound, or return to some of his favorite reoccurring blues themes, all in service of the ongoing improvisation.
Brötzmann with two basses is a treat. Add the deft and inventive drumming of Lillinger, plus (don't sleep on this) the talents of Oliver Schwerdt and you've got the carnival of the year.
Note: there is also a mini-CD, Biturbo!, Capt'n
(Euphorium Records, 2019) by the trio of Brötzmann, Lillinger, and Schwerdt available. Big Bad Brötzmann Trio's 15-minute tour de force "Ol' Capt'n (Biturbo Kings)" was the opening of the above concert. It blew the cobwebs out of the club, probably chased a few unsuspecting listeners away. Insert smile emoji here.