Out of print for nearly 30 years, Nipples
is showing itself (sorry) once again. The collector's dream Euro free jazz LP made it to CD thanks to writer/musician John Corbett's Unheard Music series for the Atavistic label. Along with other lost and unreleased gems, Corbett is bringing to light historically significant recordings by artists, some popular today and others forgotten.
For Messrs. Brötzmann, Parker, Bailey, and Bennink their appeal in today's world of jazz has never been greater. Free jazz and creative music is finding a new audience with adventurous college listeners and post-punk fallout. These four gods have endured decades of change in jazz. Imagine coming into the world in the fallout of World War II Europe, living though the bebop revolution, Coltrane's freedom, electric jazz, fusion, and the Wynton-acoustic revival. From the Sixties on, this group of European musicians carried the weight of a never-popular music.
Comprised of two tracks recorded at the fledgling studios of Manfred Eicher and his ECM sound, this 33-minute set sits rather nicely next to Machine Gun, recorded just one year earlier. The first track, recorded 4/18/69, has the full lineup, and the second was recorded four days later without Evan Parker and Derek Bailey. "Nipples" smokes with the two-horn front, clashing energy passages and the tearing of Bailey's guitar. Bennink, always the inciter, clanks, bangs and directs while Niebergall's bass boosts the energy application. I can tell Brötzmann's horn from Parker's today, but 31 years ago, their playing was not as distinct, although the seeds were germinating. "Tell A Green Man" tends toward reflection with musicians giving plenty of space for thought. Han Bennink is, will be always, such an individualist. His unique approach and disregard for traditional time is evident here. You can hear why this has been as favorite recording for collectors and free jazz fans. Brotzmann and company have come a long way from this most holiest of Grails.