This 1981 live set, taken from the Jazzwerkstatt Peitz at one time the biggest jazz festival in Germany outside of Berlin, organized by Ulli Blobel and Peter Metag, is a discographist's dream. It presents the earliest official recording of bassist Barre Phillips
playing with trumpeter Manfred Schoof
(predating Gunter Hampel's Jubilation
(Birth, 1983) by over two years) and drummer Günter Baby Sommer (a trio date, Reserve
(FMP, 1989), with Peter Brötzmann, was recorded in November 1988). Additionally, it is a companion piece to an earlier archive release by Jazzwerkstatt (the label begun by Blobel to document old and new European jazz) featuring multireedist Gianluigi Trovesi
and Sommer, recorded the day before as part of the same festival.
Europe being what it is, hundreds of improvisers all living within short train or plane rides away from each other, it is reasonable to assume that all these players worked together before this particular 39-minute set. The continent was once awash in various festivals celebrating free and avant-garde jazz and Sommer, Schoof, Trovesi and Phillips are all related by far fewer than seven degrees of separation. So despite being a one-off collaboration (that we know of), the improvisation is not tentative or overly bombastic, two approaches often evident with new associations.
Schoof and Phillips are the elders of the group, the former best known for his mid-1960s quintet and membership in the Globe Unity Orchestra
and the latter the father, son and holy ghost of extended techniques on the bass. Sommer and Trovesi are a generation removed but no less convincing on their instruments, particularly Trovesi, whose current work falls furthest from the tree of which this recording is a sturdy branch. By this point, distinctions are no longer relevant among the German, Italian or American approaches to extemporization but certainly varied cultures and experiences, with or without each other, make this a fascinating record of a meeting that could have become of long-standing but is just as satisfying for existing for the briefest of moments.