Peter Brotzmann

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PB: Nearly uninterrupted; it was good discipline, it went on and it was great. So, we had to decide: do we record that or not? It would have been difficult, it would have cost money. The musicians came for nothing, and so that was my decision: no recording. Even the guys with small recording equipment in the place had to get out. We had a very good night, and we had 600 people in the audience, and these people got the music, and we got it, and that was it. But there's no document. I think that was the right decision, you know, and sometimes I'm embarrassed by all the recording. I mean, everything is recorded and if I think back when we started, it was so difficult! It was so difficult to have an engineer, find a guy who had the right machines, find the right room; it was expensive too. You had to save a lot of money just to start. Nowadays, everything is so easy. You put the mic in front of your nose.

AAJ: So how has your approach to the music changed over the past 30 years?

PB: Of course it would be stupid to say it's the same like it was forty years ago, of course not. I learned a lot; when you are young and developing the music in those quite-heavy years in Europe, in Germany, you have a different approach to things than you have nowadays. For me the funny thing is that it has changed a lot, but the rules are still the same. Of course I'm much more in control of what I'm doing and I can set up things much more functionally; on the other hand, the music for me was never a kind of intellectual or personal expression. It always had to do with the times and the way the world develops and the way our society develops, and if you look at the situation now, and look back at the time of the Vietnam War, the situation in Europe at the time' It seems to be a kind of Sisyphus-work, you always have to start again. Human beings are f*cking stupid, and all the time the same mistakes and no respect. Going to stupid wars, nobody needs that kind of nonsense, and so I think the music is still a part of setting 'signs'. Maybe in '66 or '68 we had the idea of changing the world a little bit with the music or the arts, but that is a thing of impossibility. What you can do is convince a person from time to time to think differently about things. I think it's the small steps you have to take, and to make, and that's finally something. It's more than other people do, so whatever we do and try to do, I think it's very necessary that we do it, and it's good to see that especially the group in Chicago [Br'tzmann Tentet], they really are trying hard not to give up. That's finally a good perspective for me.

AAJ: Do you consider yourself a jazz musician or not?

PB: That's a good question, and of course one that's not easy to answer. This came up before, I remember it very well. I was sitting with Cecil [Taylor] in one of those Berlin nights very long and we discussed [it] and he explained to me why he hates to be called a 'jazz' musician. And of course, there's no definition actually' So if you're using this music in selling sausages or selling beer, or in German-TV crime series, or some kind of pseudo-jazz based music, then don't call me a jazz musician. But if jazz means [being] dedicated to the instruments, to your comrades you're working with, to the people who invented this kind of music, to the history, or just to a man like Coleman Hawkins who played so great on this horn, then I would be proud to be called a jazz musician. But, if it has to do with Lincoln Center and this [Ken] Burns guy, and Michael Dorff and all that crap, I don't want to have to do something with that. But, if it comes out of the tradition or the real meaning of the music, if somebody would call me a jazz musician, that would make me a little proud'


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