Reviews by Massimo Ricci

The A23H chronicle


JUST MUSIC GROUPS & DUOS (Laubhuette Productions)

Just listening to the radiophonic excerpt which opens the CD, recorded at Hessischer Rundfunk in 1968 and featuring snippets of interview (in German) with a 18-year old Harth - who sounds like a well-trained host in answering the real host’s questions - is enough to make one instantly curious. Yet it is once again the incredible maturity of the music presented, intelligently sequenced in the subsequent tracks, which must be taken into account to establish the absolute importance of these archival materials. These pieces – fantastic how the typical background hum contributes to the fascination during the playback – appear as a cross-pollination of atonal thematic jazz and instant-reaction heterodoxy - without excess of transcendental euphoria - in perennial recusant enlightenment. The chief initiator, on tenor sax, is flanked by Dieter Herrman on trombone, besides the usual suspects Krämer (guitar), Volhard (cello), Stock (bass) and Cremer, here puzzlingly credited with “inflating drums” (STOP PRESS: the just-received explanation reads "Cremer inflated his snare and toms with the help of a hose by blowing air with his mouth that changed the pitch of the drums while beating them"). While the dialogues between the not-yet-Mr.23 with, respectively, Cremer and Herrman describe a sharp journeying around the possibilities of two-part counterpoint without devastating apogees or reprehensible utilizations of formulas, the cream lies within three marvellous expressions by the Harth/Nicole Van Den Plas duo, correspondingly titled “Call & Suspense”, “Durus” and “Reverserenity”, the latter characterized, as per the title’s hint, by sonorities based on reverse-tape techniques utilized with extreme soberness. The saxophonist - who in this case plays bass clarinet, violin, harmonica and other objects - and his (at that time) life partner, also vocalizing in semi-ritual fashion, share a noticeable confident comprehension, demonstrating a deeper degree of intuitive intimacy which is usually the crucial factor for intense revelations in improvisational ambits. The disc is concluded by a trait-d’union recording – “near the end of Just Music & ahead of the group E.M.T.” in A23H’s words – of the quartet formed by Harth, Van Den Plas, her brother Jean Van Den Plas (bass) and Paul Lovens (drums), which in a way symbolizes the transformation of ideals and, especially, the ever-shifting intellectual qualities of a man whose artistic aims were probably too high in relation to a proverbial modesty, as hundreds of imitators found a quick ascent to fame and fortune given their exactly opposite attitude (“let’s steal, then we’ll see”). But time, someone says, is a gentleman, and properly schooled ears are going to do the rest for a complete recognition of “who came first”.

in Temporary Fault