FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004


Bert Noglik


JUNE 21St, '88

It felt like entering a room which was always assumed to be under lock and key, said Günter Sommer, after the duo with Cecil Taylor. And then after you had taken measure of the room, from that point, all of a sudden doors opened up in all directions.

Günter Sommer, who for several years, has been working on a way of making music attaching great importance to the melodic lines and harmonic structures of playing the drums, meets Cecil Taylor, the master of percussive piano playing. Sommer, whose sounds need space and time to develop could not anticipate how his music would work together with that of Taylor's. After their first meeting in West Berlin he knows. The speed of the runs and the delicate vibrations of the sounds do not work against each other but merge together within the free interplay of forces. The second duo concert with Cecil Taylor and Günter Sommer exuded the relaxed feeling of knowing that they can play together, but at the same time was not without the tension caused by the differing mentalities. Günter Sommer proceeds cautiously without renouncing his own way of playing. He is intent on driving the music, on rhythmical continuity, gradually bringing in more and more of his own material to the playing by using his own special collection of tuned instruments (drum kit, tubular bells, timpani, gongs, organ pipes, shawms). He follows Taylor, and at the same time gives a certain impetus which Taylor for his part translates into rhythmic patterns and then develops them further. The density of Taylor's micro-structures open out in sweeping curves. Concentration and power, the lengthy runs and barren landscapes. Traces of a romantic quality, seeds of the melodramatic. Organized sound structures that can be filled out by the listeners: with dramatics of almost Shakespearian proportions, with the most refined reverberations of consciousness. Music, which attaches the same importance to two fingers, just touching, or the battle raging in the arena of passion. Sommer has described playing with Taylor as a meeting in a pulsating room of sound. A state of higher concentration which is as much about the tensing and relaxing of muscles as with the exchange of cultural experience. As much as with sensitivity to sound, as with an imaginary scald on the skin. At one point during the concert, Sommer throws some delicate multicoloured feathers into the air, and noiselessly falling to the floor they create the impression of transparent sounds. Cecil Taylor and Günter Sommer have different ways of working with the 'sound' structure of rhythm. For Taylor, the piano is nothing but a set of 88 tuned drums. Taylor and Sommer have met in a universe of sound. Taylor points to one of Sommer's attributes: "He is a comedian." Their mutual acceptance, of course, derives from the pure playing of the instruments and their communicated reverberations. Sommer: "Right from the beginning it was much less of a battle as playing together".

Translation: Paul Lytton

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