Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet: Bridging the Future with the Past

Lloyd N. Peterson Jr. By

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PB: I can say that the audiences and the people that I meet here (in the U.S.) are great. The people are curious, interested and young. So for me, it's always a pleasure to be here. But ofcourse, I see the other side too. When I first began coming to the states, I spent a lot of time in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

I was on the road with a bassist from South Africa and the other was Louis Moholo-Moholo who are both Black. And there were these guys at a bar who shouted, "Close the door nigger." And that was another world but I still think that this world exists and being on the road with William Parker and Hamid Drake quite a bit, we discuss my experiences in this country with two black guys and sometimes it can give you a funny feeling. I recently spent time with Anthony Braxton and we discussed the African American and the white situation and he said, "segregation is going stronger than ever." And from my outside view; in the end, nothing has changed. It's still, "Fuck these guys and fuck those guys." I mean, it's a mess we are in and it's not only an American mess; it's really a global mess.

MG: It's so disgusting.

PB: Yes, and of course, it looks different in different countries. And it's quite a global thing, hich has to do with the growing pre-capitalism situation that the world is in.

JM: It's economics.

MG: Its media controlled and we don't even know what is actually happening, we can only guess. It's crazy.

LP: Globalization seems to leave very little, if any room for creativity and independent thought.

MG: It becomes meaningless.

PNL: Yeah, the stronger the art part is, the stronger you're going to be to fight it.

KV: Things unfortunately go in cycles and we are in this period now in which this situation in Iraq, it doesn't seem unlike some of the things that were going on during the late 60s.

PB: I had just turned on CNN and heard what they are now doing in Fallujah. Man, is the only answer to drop 500 pound bombs on this village? I mean, can that be an answer to anything? I feel I just don't get it.

KV: It seems that we didn't learn anything in Vietnam and now we are here again.

JM: We're going backwards.

KV: I mean, I'm completely baffled by it and I wasn't completely aware of the first cycle and yet, here we come again. Some amazing things came out of that really powerful time and it seemed that, ok, maybe some changes could be made and yet here we are thirty-five years later in a similar place. In talking with Phil Wachsmann, he said that if you had asked him in 1968 if we could be where we are now, he couldn't have imagined it. He just couldn't believe that we had gone a hundred years backward instead of forward.And I also think that people who are frustrated globally are going to act out and its part of what you are seeing. Like Peter was saying, we are going to drop these bombs on this town, and that's the solution? There is a reason that this stuff is happening. And there needs to be an exploration. There is so much money involved and so much greed. I mean, what was our interest in Afghanistan and what is our interest in Iraq? It's oil. We are not para-trooping into other countries with more heinous dictators. There are so many political and economic things connected to Iraq that are transparent.

And I think what Paal was saying is true too. In the 60s,' some amazing creative and important things happened that I think helped support the idea that something could be better and I think that that's what is going to happen now too. And I think the concert last night is an example of that kind of action because it was about the possibility of something better. There was a line in one of the poems that said, "War will fail." And we are in the middle of a war. We're planting the idea or the concept that it isn't the way to go. Even for the few hundred people that were there last night, that's a positive action in a very dark time. And I think that those kind of creative actions are going to happen out of desperation of what we are faced with right now. It's not a time to be complacent. And it's not a time to say that things are ok because they are really not. And I think that that kind of thing can read through very important action on the positive side. Because there isn't room for just shrugging your shoulders and saying, "everything is OK."

The Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet:

Peter Brötzmann, Germany

Jahannes Bauer, Germany

Jeb Bishop, Chicago

Mats Gustafsson, Sweden

Per-Ake Holmlander, Sweden

Kent Kessler, Chicago

Fred Lonberg-Holm, Chicago

Joe McPhee, New York

Paal Nilssen-Love, Norway

Ken Vandermark, Chicago

Michael Zerang, Chicago

Note from the author: The Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet is preparing to tour in Europe during the month of February. I cannot recommend critically enough the importance of the work and artistic creativity that is being performed by this group of artists. If interested, you can catch the Tentet at the following dates and locations:

2/17/09, LJUD, Arhus, Denmark

2/18/09, TOU Scene, NY Musikk/Stavanger, Jazzforum, Stavanger, NO

2/19/09, Victoria Scene, Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, Norway

2/20/09, Victoria Scene, Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, Norway

2/21/09, Victoria Scene, Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, Norway

This interview first appeared in Lloyd Peterson's Music And The Creative Spirit (Scarecrow Press, 2006).
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