FMP-RECORDS (SAJ-Numbers) 1974 - 1991


Hellmut Kotschenreuther


Spontaneity, creativity and fantasy can neither be planned nor decreed. But it is possible to create a few prerequisites for them so that insofar as they exist at least germinally, they can unfold in relatively undisturbed fashion. And the West Berlin "Free Music Production" and the "Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst" (DAAD) tried to do just that when in the early autumn of 1978 they gave 20 jazz musicians from Berlin, the German Federal Republic, Belgium and Denmark the opportunity, in an 11-day workshop under the direction of the well-chosen and experienced saxophonist, John Tchicai, of experimenting with new sounds and structures which up to now have still been little used in relation to Jazz, and this, so to speak, in "free space", screened off from the pressures and temptations of commercial music-making.

The musical results of the Workshop's activities were heard in concerts in the "Café EinStein" from September 1st to 3rd, 1978; and, according to the Berliner "Tagesspiegel", were, in part, "quite simply, fascinating": Newport and Donaueschingen, Berlin Jazz Days and Darmstadt could be perceived in these results, to a certain extent observed together, felt together, composed and improvised together. The high spots of the three-day program presented compositions and improvisations which Made use of the vocabulary of the most recent art music with the same inspired nonchalance as in the new expressive means of the consolidated Free Jazz: high orchestral clusters, for example, from the sound realms of Penderecki and Ligeti, widely stretched, choral-like wind-instrument curves of sheer Brucknerish power, instrumental dialogues of bizarre expressiveness, the breaking down and collapsing of sounds, which reminded one very definitely of a certain catastrophic gloominess in Mahler's work but which nevertheless at no moment denied their origin in Jazz.

A recording on which only a portion of about seven hours of music could be preserved can naturally also communicate only a portion of what the public experienced in the three concerts as a "shock-like expansion of the expressive boundaries of Jazz". And this portion at the same time very likely offers the most interesting material which has been recorded in Jazz in the last years. It includes - partly in complete form and partly in excerpts - among other pieces, Tchicai's "Kirke Varløse" and "Who is who", with its rhythmic complications in 5/4 time and its vigorously scanned tonal pulverization, Georg Gräwe's "New Movements", with their chaotic, rumbling beginning and their bizarre instrumental dialogue, the fragment of a sharply accented double-quick march by Ludolf Kuchenbuch, Friedemann Graef's composition "Surface" which, after an opening filled with clusters reminiscent of Ligeti, brings together all sorts of threatening elements from the realm between nightmare and science fiction, and, finally, Hans Schneider's "Resultat", a work that reaches a climax of hysteria created by dissonances, shrill orchestral interpolations, scanned piano figurations, percussion attacks and entangled wind-instrument passages whose hectic character increases in intensity; in a word, simply this portion of the concert-trilogy offers a broad spectrum of those possibilities which are now at the service of the creative musician, since the avant-garde art music rubs shoulders with advanced Jazz and the two interchange within each other in the process of creating a music which is self-confident enough to ignore in sovereign fashion the categorical differentiations between so-called Serious Music and so-called Light Music.

Translation: John Evarts

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