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Peter Brötzmann

Born Remscheid, Germany on 6 March 1941; soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass saxophones, a-clarinet, e-flat clarinet; bass clarinet, tarogato. Peter Brötzmann's early interest was in painting and he attended the art academy in Wuppertal. Being very dissatisfied with the gallery/exhibition situation in art he found greater satisfaction playing with semi-professional musicians, though continued to paint (as well as retaining a level of control over his own records, particularly in record sleeve/CD booklet design). In late 2005 he had a major retrospective exhibition jointly with Han Bennink - two separate buildings separated by an inter-connecting glass corridor - in Brötzmann's home town of Remscheid.

Self-taught on clarinets, he soon moved to saxophones and began playing swing/bebop, before meeting Peter Kowald. During 1962/63 Brötzmann, Kowald and various drummers played regularly - Mingus, Ornette Coleman, etc. - while experiencing freedoms from a different perspective via Stockhausen, Nam June Paik, David Tudor and John Cage. In the mid 1960s, he played with American musicians such as Don Cherry and Steve Lacy and, following a sojourn in Paris with Don Cherry, returned to Germany for his unorthodox approach to be accepted by local musicians like Alex von Schlippenbach and Manfred Schoof.

The trio of Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald and Sven-Ake Johansson began playing in 1965/66 and it was a combination of this and the Schoof/Schlippenbach Quintet that gave rise to the first Globe Unity Orchestra. Following the self-production of his first two LPs, For Adolphe Sax and Machine gun for his private label, BRO-, a recording for Manfred Eicher's 'Jazz by Post' (JAPO) [Nipples], and a number of concert recordings with different sized groups, Brötzmann worked with Jost Gebers and started the FMP label. He also began to work more regularly with Dutch musicians, forming a trio briefly with Willem Breuker and Han Bennink before the long-lasting group with Han Bennink and Fred Van Hove. As a trio, and augmented with other musicians who could stand the pace (e.g. Albert Mangelsdorff on, for example, The Berlin concert), this lasted until the mid-1970s though Brötzmann and Bennink continued to play and record as a duo, and in other combinations, after this time. A group with Harry Miller and Louis Moholo continued the trio format though was cut short by Miller's early death.

The thirty-plus years of playing and recording free jazz and improvised music have produced, even on just recorded evidence, a list of associates and one-off combinations that include just about all the major figures in this genre: Derek Bailey (including performances with Company (e.g. Incus 51), Cecil Taylor, Fred Hopkins, Rashied Ali, Evan Parker, Keiji Haino, Misha Mengelberg, Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Andrew Cyrille, Phil Minton, Alfred 23 Harth, Tony Oxley. Always characterised as an energy player - and the power-rock setting of Last Exit with Ronald Shannon Jackson, Sonny Sharock and Bill Laswell, or his duo performances with his son, Casper, did little to disperse this conviction - his sound is one of the most distinctive, life-affirming and joyous in all music. But the variety of Brötzmann's playing and projects is less recognised: his range of solo performances; his medium-to-large groups and, in spite of much ad hoc work, a stability brought about from a corpus of like- minded musicians: the group Ruf der Heimat; pianist Borah Bergman; percussionist Hamid Drake; and Die like a dog, his continuing tribute to Albert Ayler, with Drake, William Parker and Toshinori Kondo. Peter Brötzmann continues a heavy touring schedule which, since 1996 has seen annual visits to Japan and semi-annual visits to the thriving Chicago scene where he has played in various combinations from solo through duo (including one, in 1997, with Mats Gustafsson) to large groups such as the Chicago Octet/Tentet, described below. He has also released a number of CDs on the Chicago-based Okka Disk label, including the excellent trio with Hamid Drake and the Moroccan Mahmoud Gania, at times sounding like some distant muezzin calling the faithful to become lost in the rhythm and power of the music.

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5
Album Review

Peter Brötzmann / Sabu Toyozumi: Triangle - Live At OHM 1987

Read "Triangle - Live At OHM 1987" reviewed by John Sharpe


Free improvisers must be some of the world's most readily connected collaborators. They can strike up an instantaneous dialogue without the need for rehearsal or even a common language. Of course they might not always hit paydirt, but that uncertainty is part of the attraction. However, German reedman Peter Brötzmann, who was a regular visitor to Japan, successfully established potent relationships with many of the country's key figures, notably pianist Masahiko Satoh, multi-instrumentalist Keiji Haino and trumpeter Toshinori Kondo.

6
Album Review

Brötzmann / Nilssen-Love: Chicken Shit Bingo

Read "Chicken Shit Bingo" reviewed by Mark Corroto


We lost Peter Brotzmann in the summer of 2023. The saxophonist and champion of free jazz passed at the age of 82. There may be no more live appearances from the great man, but there will be posthumous releases. Hopefully, all will be as spirited and compelling as Chicken Shit Bingo, a duo with Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. The pair had worked together in groups as large as Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet, in trio and quartet settings. However, it is the ...

1
In Pictures

Peter Brotzmann Tribute Concerts at Cafe OTO

Read "Peter Brotzmann Tribute Concerts at Cafe OTO" reviewed by Frank Rubolino


When the free jazz movement started in the United States in the late 1950s, it quickly spread in the 1960s to Europe where many musicians from the States found a more accepting environment for this form of music. One of the earliest benefactors from this exposure was Peter Brotzmann of Germany, a man who rose over the years to legendary status in the genre. He earned the highest respect from musicians and fans alike due to his innovative style and ...

3
Radio & Podcasts

Favourite Releases of 2023

Read "Favourite Releases of 2023" reviewed by Maurice Hogue


For a show that doesn't turn to tradition very often, there is one on One Man's Jazz: the first show of a new year features the host's favourite releases of the outgoing year. 2023 was an excellent year for new albums--post-pandemic inspiration perhaps? Regardless, big props are due to the artists who create this music and to those who support them. Aside from the opening tune, the tracks by sizzling alto player Patrick Bartley, Ouat, Krsytyna Stanko, trumpeter Alistair Payne, ...

1
Radio & Podcasts

Peter Brotzmann May Be Gone But He Still Wants to Kill Yo Mama

Read "Peter Brotzmann May Be Gone But He Still Wants to Kill Yo Mama" reviewed by Patrick Burnette


At Mike's suggestion, we devote an episode to the recently departed European avant-garde powerhouse Peter Brotzmann. The sound quality is a bit off. Pat says he forgot to press “record." Listeners know he was probably just cowering behind the couch. Mike shows us the breadth of the fire-breather's career, touching on a mid-size ensemble session, an electric gig with rock elements, a more introspective duet, and Brotzmann's uncompromising debut. Pat whimpers. Playlist Discussion of Peter Brotzmann's album For ...

8
Album Review

Peter Brotzmann / Sabu Toyozumi: Triangle – Live at OHM, 1987

Read "Triangle – Live at OHM, 1987" reviewed by Mark Corroto


Triangle--Live At OHM, 1987 is a recording of Peter Brotzmann in Japan. Here he is performing with master free jazz drummer Sabu Toyozumi. This is not the musicians first meeting. The pair have released a couple nearly impossible to find discs such as Live In Japan 1982 (Improvised Company, 1999) and Live In Okayama 1987 (Improvised Company, 2000) the latter CD with Derek Bailey. Thanks to NoBusiness Records from Lithuania we have this gem from December 1987 in ...

1
Radio & Podcasts

Peter Brōtzmann, Liba Villavecchia, & Eric Hofbauer

Read "Peter Brōtzmann, Liba Villavecchia, & Eric Hofbauer" reviewed by Maurice Hogue


This episode features a tribute to the magnificent Peter Brōtzmann whose brilliance was appreciated by so many. New albums sampled, aside from the opening track with the great saxophonist and percussionist Hamid Drake, are the powerful trio from Spain led by saxophonist Liba Villavecchia, Orquestra Del Tiempo Perdido from Netherlands, guitarist Eric Hofbauer whose album was inspired by the speech patterns of environment advocate, Greta Thunberg, and Poland's Marek Pospiezaski who pays tribute to women composers. And another track from ...

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1

Performance / Tour

Jazz This Week: Peter Brotzmann Trio, Peter Martin and Vivian Sessoms, Kurt Elling, New Mastersounds, Jamie Cullum, and More

Jazz This Week: Peter Brotzmann Trio, Peter Martin and Vivian Sessoms, Kurt Elling, New Mastersounds, Jamie Cullum, and More

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

It's the first week of a new month, and a very busy one for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with several noteworthy headliners in town. Let's go to the highlights... Tonight, the all-star free jazz trio of saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, drummer Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker (pictured) performs at Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center. If you have any interest at all in free jazz, this concert is an absolute must-see, as all three of the players are adventurous, ...

1

Festival

Vision Festival 19 Celebrates Jeff Schlanger musicWitness Lifetime Of Achievement

Vision Festival 19 Celebrates Jeff Schlanger musicWitness Lifetime Of Achievement

Source: Chris Rich

Celebrating Jeff Schlanger musicWitness Lifetime Of Achievement on June 12th. Music as color, inked on paper shaped by the sounds blown across the page, Jeff Schlanger is the musicWitness, present where the music is. He is the visual improviser, transforming music into painting for decades, a witness to great music – Now we gladly acknowledge his lifetime of achievement. A New York City native, a graduate of Music & Art and student of potter Maija Grotell at Cranbrook, he has ...

2

Video / DVD

STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Peter Brotzmann, William Parker and Hamid Drake

STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Peter Brotzmann, William Parker and Hamid Drake

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

Today, we focus our video lens on the trio of saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, bassist William Parker and percussionist Hamid Drake, who are coming to St. Louis to perform in a concert at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 4 at the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center as part of LNAC's 20th anniversary celebration. Bound by a web of musical associations stretching back more than 20 years, they first recorded and toured together under the name Die Like A Dog, and in the ensuing ...

1

Interview

Machine Gun

Machine Gun

Source: Ars Nova Workshop

In May, 1968, the German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann brought together seven emerging European experimental musicians for what is now considered to be one of the most critical recording sessions in the history of improvised music. The “Machine Gun Sessions” featured several improvisers whose soon-to-be-celebrated careers were just beginning: the British saxophonist Evan Parker, the Dutch reedsman Willem Breuker, the German bassists Peter Kowald and Buschi Niebergall, the Swedish drummer Sven-Åke Johansson, the Dutch drummer Han Bennink, and the Belgian pianist ...

151

Recording

Peter Brotzmann and Andrew Cyrille - Andrew Cyrille Meets Peter Brotzmann in Berlin (FMP, 2011)

Peter Brotzmann and Andrew Cyrille - Andrew Cyrille Meets Peter Brotzmann in Berlin (FMP, 2011)

Source: Music and More by Tim Niland

A live meeting between multi-reedist Peter Brotzmann and drummer and percussionist Andrew Cryille seems like a match made in free-jazz heaven. Recorded live at a Free Music Symposium in Berlin in 1982, this album lives up to its potential with strong, powerful playing and potent, thoughtful interplay between the musicians. The opening track “Wolf Whistle" is a massive side long slab of free improvisation, with the two musicians bobbing and weaving like fine boxers, looking for space before finally locking ...

83

Festival

Peter Brotzmann Honored With Lifetime Achievment Award at Vision Festival

Peter Brotzmann Honored With Lifetime Achievment Award at Vision Festival

Source: All About Jazz @ Spinner

German reedist Peter Brotzmann got his start in the '60s, quickly making a name for himself in the European free jazz and avant-garde music scene. Thanks to classic albums like 'Machine Gun,' Brotzmann is best known for conjuring a tone on his tenor sax that is not unlike an ill-tempered V8 engine with straight pipes. But that isn't the whole story. Yes, the hard-blowing Albert Ayler is an influence on Brotzmann, but some of my favorite moments have come from ...

120

Festival

Peter Brotzmann Rises and Shines on Wednesday at Vision Festival 16.

Peter Brotzmann Rises and Shines on Wednesday at Vision Festival 16.

Source: Chris Rich

TRIBUTE TO A LIVING LEGEND

Peter Brotzmann:Celebrating A Lifetime of Achievement

Each year, the Vision Festival honors the achievements of one living artist who has greatly influenced the world around them and paved the way for other innovators to move forward. On Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 Arts For Art and The Vision Festival will celebrate a Lifetime of Achievement by Peter Brotzmann. This great improviser was one of the first practitioners of the Free Jazz movement in Europe. Brotzmann has ...

156

Recording

Brotzmann's Chicago Tentet, 2004, "Be Music, Night"

Brotzmann's Chicago Tentet, 2004, "Be Music, Night"

Source: Gapplegate Music Review by Grego Edwards

Peter Brotzmann's Chicago Tentet combines some of the finest avant improvisers out of Chicago and Europe. For a such a logistically and musically complex multi-member outfit they've had a rather long and significant life. And they still flourish today, as witnessed by their recent European tour. We turn the clock back to 2004, and a Tentet gig recorded at Wall to Wall in Chicago. It was auspicious and fortuitious that the mikes were in place, the “tapes" running that day, ...

327

Recording

Peter Brotzmann - Machine Gun (1968)

Peter Brotzmann - Machine Gun (1968)

Source: Something Else!

By Pico Note: This is a slightly abridged version of the inaugural article in the long-running “Whack Jazz" series, first appearing on July 11, 2006 in the forerunner site to Something Else Reviews, Da Blog by Daslob. Machine Gun remains to me the gold standard for all thrash-jazz records, one that all other such albums are measured against. Peter Brötzmann himself have made plenty of great records since then but never completely recaptured the magic of these sesssions (although F*ck ...

108

Recording

Peter Brotzmann and Paal Nilssen-Love - Woodcuts (Smalltown Superjazz)

Peter Brotzmann and Paal Nilssen-Love - Woodcuts (Smalltown Superjazz)

Source: Master of a Small House

Among the many drummers to join Brotzmann on the bandstand, Paal Nilssen-Love remains one of the most compatible and galvanizing. His mix of muscle and agility continually serves the German well whether it be in a large assemblage like the Chicago Tentet or mano y mano encounter like this set, the second such set documented by the Scandinavian Smalltown Superjazz imprint. The earlier date, parceled as part of the Maijazz Festival in Norway in the spring of 2006, centered on ...

Bret Sexton
saxophone, alto
Tumi Árnason
saxophone
Sam Norris
saxophone
Adam Simmons
woodwinds
Lyndon Owen
saxophone, tenor

Photos

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Chicken Shit Bingo

Trost Records
2024

buy

Triangle - Live At...

NoBusiness Records
2024

buy

Naked Nudes

Trost Records
2023

buy

Triangle – Live at...

NoBusiness Records
2023

buy

Bambule!

Euphorium Records
2022

buy

The Intellect Given...

Black Editions
2022

buy

Videos

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