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Does Peter Brötzmann ever give a performance that isn't recorded? He shows up with his saxophones and tarogato, they roll tape and presto, there's another album. And since Brötzmann's approach hasn't really changed, it may be true that if you've heard five Brötzmanns, you've heard them all. Machine Gun. Brötzmann in front of an electric band. Something from the Die Like a Dog quartet. Maybe a solo disc. And one that pits him against a drummer capable of equal intensity. Hamid Drake fits that description and their previous outing as a duo (the in-studio Dried Rat-Dog, Okka Disk, 1998) marks a career highlight for both. Recorded live in Cleveland and issued as a concert memento in limited quantity, the four tracks on Brö-D ebb and flow as these free jazz encounters are apt to do. At one point, Brötzmann flirts with a gentle melody that soon dissolves, but it leaves you wishing the legendary fire breather would explore his gentle side more often. When that moment of beauty and repose reappears at the start of Track 4, it leaves you hoping the tape is rolling when Brötzmann decides to do his ballads tour.
To call the music of Kali. Z. Fasteau free jazz is too limiting. One of the originals of the New York scene, Fasteau is a multi-instrumentalist, equally facile on reeds, woodwinds, flute, violin and piano. Her music aims not merely for freedom but transcendence and while her composed improvisations are relatively brief, they sound as if part of a larger continuum. For the first half of Animal Grace Fasteau is paired with veteran drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo, whose deceptively relaxed, smooth pulse is perfectly in sync with Fasteau's soundflow. Sadly, the Big Apple Jazz Festival's electronics made for a substandard recording. Fasteau is presented to better effect on the CD's second half, "Live in the Alps," recorded at an outdoor festival in Switzerland in 2005. Fronting a band with Wayne Dockery (bass) and Steve McCraven (drums), Fasteau is both inventive and ingenious as she moves from soprano to flute to the double-reeded mizmar and back again. Bobby Few's piano offers a glistening complement to her cascading sound swirl.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.