Reviews by Massimo Ricci

The A23H chronicle


More wonderment from the JUST MUSIC era

See also JUST MUSIC on ECM 1002 + selfproduction (1969)
and 4.Januar 1970 (selfproduction)

2009 is a fundamental moment in Alfred Harth’s life, in that he celebrates both the 60th birthday (on September 28th) and a 40-year career’s “jubilee”. We already talked about Just Music, one of the first improvisation ensembles recorded on ECM, whose activities were tragically under-documented to date. Luckily, Harth is retrieving additional material from the archives, these three records constituting as a good introduction as any to the collective’s stimulating methods. All of this great stuff is now available from the instigator himself through the Laubhuette imprint, and it comes without saying that you’d better start to be more aware of the roots of instrumental ad-libbing as opposed to having some “prophet of silence” dry your wallet with a hour of coughs, creaks and outside motorbikes surrounding two single “pings” and a “whirr”.

JUST MUSIC TRIOS (Laubhuette Productions)

Extraordinarily good-sounding, given that the recordings occurred in March 1970, the tracks contained by this disc - strangely enough - do not feature Harth but present a selection of improvisations by two dissimilar trios. In the first, Michael Sell (trumpet), Franz Volhard (bass) and Thomas Cremer (drums) show that brief disquisitions can yield excellent results. Sell is obviously a protagonist, his phrasing voluble without preponderance, a constant melodic resourcefulness at the basis of an invigorating cross of swiftness and concomitance in admirable interaction with the “fractured rhythm” section. If this piece has a defect, that should be its shortness. We’re soon rewarded by a superb “clean” set comprising again Volhard (this time on cello), Johannes Krämer (acoustic guitar) and Peter Stock (bass). This lengthier series is the ideal evidence of the sensitiveness-informed technical eminence of the musicians, who interact alternating exhilaration and open-mindedness during exchanges that range from sheer ebullience to classically-scented, chamber-like reflective interpretations of self-determination. Even within the same trio, the inherent subdivisions (practically, duos in three different combinations) reveal an “adult” approach to mutual give-and-take informed by a taste for first-rate tones which stamps this collection with a “not-to-be-missed” seal.

in Temporary Fault