Globe Unity in Baden-Baden 1975
Prologue: After two days and two long nights in Reims and a concert in the famous cathedral, a five-man fraction consisting of Brötzmann, Buschi, Alex, Lovens and Rüdiger Carl is on a journey in Kowald’s old Ford Transit to Baden-Baden, where an SWF (Südwestfunk) radio production with the Globe Unity Orchestra plus guest soloists Anthony Braxton and Enrico Rava is scheduled for the following day.
Somewhere on a country road in the direction of Metz, in the Champagne, past Mars-Le-Tour and Verdun (where our grandfathers were dug in), after a few sinister sounding noises, the car packs up (“moteur maladè“ as they later say in the workshop) and we roll down into a dark hollow.
That’s it –
Night has fallen. A full moon is shining on the forbidding surroundings of the “Field of Mars”. Freezing cold. Away in the distance the lights of lonely farms. The barking of dogs somewhere far off.
We decide to push the car off the road to the right and get going to look for somewhere we can spend the night. Luckily we soon find a lonely, dimly lit inn which, to our pleasant surprise, is still open. In we go! Three old men sitting in the lounge warming themselves next to a stove pipe several meters long. Winter had set in pretty early that year, with temperatures of minus 20°.
After a few glasses of red wine and the announcement of our mishap, a breakdown lorry is cordially organized, to tow us to a workshop the next morning and there is even somebody to take us to a small out-of-the-way hotel. Hoping that all will go well, we leave the fully loaded transit to the icy cold night in the “Field of Mars”. The very modest hotel is in hibernation. An icy wind is blowing outside but they manage to get the kitchen temporarily up and steaming once again. The two sleepy waiters get back into it, bit by bit, for their outlandish surprise guests. With some pride, the Champagne cellar is revealed, and is met with intense interest by us, also egged on by the adventurous situation. With every uncorking of a new bottle, the atmosphere gets more and more relaxed, initial language barriers are soon burnished away. And this is how it happens that, for the first time, each of the participants experiences a complete and unadulterated Champagne “high”, while the princely fee from the previous night in Reims is steadily and to a large extent being liquidated.
In the early hours of the next morning the breakdown lorry arrives. The night was short and not without its hardships, not least due to the completely frozen sanitary facilities. Still in a state of intemperance, navigating through the wound-down side window (with centimetres of ice covering the windscreen), we make the ten kilometres to the workshop, which also proves beneficial towards a gradual sobering up. Shortly after midday we can continue on, and a day late the fairly shattered occupants finally arrive at the SWF in Baden-Baden, where our colleagues have graciously already started doing a bit of rehearsing.
Translation: Isabel Seeberg & Paul Lytton