388

Peter Brotzmann: The Complete Machine Gun Sessions

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Peter Brotzmann: The Complete Machine Gun Sessions An essential recording, Machine Gun's rightful place in the pantheon of seminal free jazz recordings is uncontested. The first major document of European free improvisation, Atavistic's Unheard Music Series reissue supplements the legendary session by bolstering the original album with two alternate takes and the only documented live performance of the furious title track.

Envisioned and organized by infamous German tenor saxophonist Peter Brötzmann (nicknamed Machine Gun by trumpeter Don Cherry), Machine Gun provided a blueprint for such riotous ensembles as Last Exit, Naked City and Massacre. Brötzmann's assaultive 1968 octet recording set a precedent for all extreme improvised music that followed in its wake.

More calamitous, violent and willfully discordant than Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz (Atlantic, 1960), John Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse!, 1965) or the contemporaneous work of Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor, Brötzmann's uproarious testament was a sign of the times.

Embroiled in revolution and protest, 1968 was a tumultuous time, and a fitting year for such a document to emerge. The Vietnam War, the American Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King's assassination and the Paris student riots of 1968 all are subconsciously mirrored in the album's chaotic fury.

Recorded in a concrete basement studio and independently released on Brötzmann's own BRO imprint, the album became an underground classic. Still suffering from less than optimal audio, pianist Fred Van Hove and bassists Peter Kowald and Buschi Niebergall are barely audible in the chaotic mix, but emerge fully during unaccompanied solo sections ripe with squalling arco harmonics and pounding tone clusters.

Opening with a staccato horn riff and stabbing percussive ostinato, the band sounds less like an acoustic jazz group than a feverishly overdriven machine, pistons shrieking, gears rattling. Brötzmann and his front line of horn players trade caustic tirades over the bustling, thunderous palpitations of Han Bennink and Sven-Ake Johansson.

Conceiving brief melodies of an almost accessible nature one moment, only to savagely rend them to pieces in the next, the octet offers a revolutionary stance in their execution and intent. Still challenging after almost forty years, Machine Gun stands tall as a high water mark of European free jazz.


Track Listing: Machine Gun; Responsible / for Jan Van De Ven; Music for Han Bennink; Machine Gun (2nd take); Responsible / for Jan Van De Ven (1st take); Machine Gun (live).

Personnel: Peter Brotzmann: tenor saxophone and baritone saxophone; Willem Breuker: tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Evan Parker: tenor saxophone; Gerd Dudek: tenor saxophone (6); Fred Van Hove: piano; Peter Kowald: bass; Buschi Niebergall: bass; Han Bennink: drums; Sven-Ake Johansson: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "My Foolish Heart" CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "Seaside" CD/LP/Track Review Seaside
by John Eyles
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Chance Meeting" CD/LP/Track Review Chance Meeting
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 28, 2016
Read "Countdown" CD/LP/Track Review Countdown
by Doug Collette
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "King of the Blues" CD/LP/Track Review King of the Blues
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2016
Read "Sounds Of 3" CD/LP/Track Review Sounds Of 3
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!