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German trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff splits notes by overblowing and humming into his mouthpiece while also crossing octaves with relative ease as he is one of the very few trombonists capable of employing this difficult technique known as – multiphonics. With that and his noted brilliance as an improviser, Mangelsdorff tries his hand at working with a small percussion unit under the leadership of Swiss born Reto Weber and his “Percussion Orchestra” Live At Montreux.
The results are somewhat uneven. With “On The Road”, Mangelsdorff is almost squelched out of the audio mix which also includes an unexpected dose of ear piercing feedback yet the ethnocentric rhythms from the multinational three man percussion orchestra meshes well with the trombonist’s earthy tone and keen improv throughout many of these pieces. “Looking Back” features Mangelsdorff partaking on an extended improvisation as the percussionists provide the embellishments, pyrotechnics and charging rhythms. The trombonist seamlessly integrates within this unorthodox format on “Remember” while assisting with the overall rhythmic flow and being somewhat of an instigator or protagonist for the percussionists. “Togetherness” boasts interesting motifs and developments yet at this juncture an air of sameness hovers over the proceedings as the sense of not much left to conquer or in simpler terms – the matters at hand tend to become a bit routine. Thankfully at this stage, Mangelsdorff performs a solo piece titled, “Bone Blue” which is all about emotional phrasing, multiphonics, ingenuity and excitement that also contains a memorable and quite jazzy hook. “Landscapes” closes out the set in glimmering and affable fashion along with some pleasant steel drum performances by one of the three percussionists.
Live At Montreux does have it’s moments, yet the proceedings might have projected much better during the live show, which of course provides the audio-visual aspect yet with the combined creative forces at work, the recorded presentation holds up rather well. * * *
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.