Jeff Platz | Jan Klare | Meinrad Kneer | Bill Elgart | Modern Primitive | EvilRabbitRecords

Jan Klare – alto saxophone, clarinet, flute | Jeff Platz – guitar | Meinrad Kneer – double bass | Bill Elgart – drums

Recorded by Karl Godejohann, October 29, 2010. Live in concert at Bunker Ulmenwall, Bielefeld/Germany. Mixed by Karl Godejohann at studio la tonnelle, Bielefeld/Germany. Mastered by Oliver Siegel.Design: Lysander Le Coultre (strangelove creatives). Photography: Monique Besten

All compositions by Klare/ Platz/ Kneer/ Elgart © Buma

Tracklist: 1. beekeepers song (4:16) 2. can you hear the rain? (7:25) 3. meat dress (4:29) 4. a gently sloping knoll (6:47) 5. blank mask (3:48) 6. grain by grain (5:49) 7. puppet party (5:28) 8. impish episode (7:44) 9. mutual agreement (3:44) Total  Time: 49:46

Recorded at the end of a weeklong tour in Bielefeld Germany at the club Bunker.

The CD includes Jan Klare on alto saxophone and flute, Bill Elgart drums and percussion, Meinrad Kneer on bass and Jeff Platz guitar. The idea was to record a few takes during the day and then record the evening performance.  The club Bunker is an actual bunker from the world war two era, which has been transformed into one of the countries most historic jazz clubs. After two sets of what was agreed to be very intense playing and listening on all of our parts, we were quiet pleasantly surprised at the outcome! — Jeff Platz

jeff platz | jan klare | meinrad kneer | bill elgart | modern primitive | evilrabbitrecords

steeped in various aspects of jazz tradition

as much as it is on the cutting edge, the sonic territory covered by modern primitive is vast, to say the least. the music here, all freely improvised, has a warmth and immediacy that comes from intense, shared listening. though there are no tunes or changes per se, that each player has an extensive background in modern jazz and other non- improvised music is quite evident. historically, this is something that a lot of free improvising musicians try to hide. instead, this quartet uses its “inside” musical chops to its advantage, producing a truly cohesive collective sound that moves from sweet melancholy to the brink of total chaos and back in the blink of an eye.

drummer bill elgart is probably the best known name here. the american expat is best known for his collaborations with pianist paul bley, vibraphonist karl berger, and saxophonist lee konitz, to name a few. his innate sense of swing and tendency towards restraint in the face of heated exchanges between the other players is critical throughout modern primitive, particularly on “meat dress” and “puppet party.”

elgart has also worked extensively with bassist meinrad kneer, which is evident in their deeply connected playing throughout. kneer is a highly responsive player, anchoring the music with muscular boppish lines (“beekeeper’s song,” “meat dress”) or wailing away, horn-like, in the upper registers (“blank mask,” “can you hear the rain?”).

highly impressive is the work of veteran electric guitarist jeff platz, another american expat who’s worked with multi-instrumentalists daniel carter and joe morris, and saxophonist jim hobbs. like elgart, platz is an unpredictable, mercurial player whose sound, while rooted in the jazz tradition, can go anywhere at any time. his slide guitar work on “a gently sloping knoll” is a welcome, whimsical surprise. platz tantalizes further on “impish episode” where he whips a fuzzbox out of the musical ether. multi-reed man jan klare, a frequent associate of platz, has a pleasantly throaty, somewhat ornette coleman-like sound on alto. his clarinet playing is mobile and authoritative, bringing john carter to mind.

modern primitive lives up to its name in the best possible way, combining instant music-making with beguiling craftsmanship in a variety of forward-looking contexts. — Dave Wayne

jeff platz | jan klare | meinrad kneer | bill elgart | modern primitive | evilrabbitrecords

working the sometimes arid boundary between rock and jazz

is obviously a concept which fascinates reedist jan klare. however with the intersection point often the spot where showiness and bombast bury genuine improvisation, it’s a hit-and-miss proposition. this is forcefully demonstrated on these small-group cds featuring the münster-based saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist, best-known for his leadership of the massive german jazz-rock ensemble the dorf.

klare, who over the years has worked in theatre, dance and electronic music projects as well as with the likes of bassist wilbert de joode, is fully immersed in the punkier and speedier side of fusion with the you are so me trio, which has worked in this formation since 2005. drummer simon camatta, a regular the dorf member bears down excessively on his drum set on the cd’s 11 tracks, while oliver siegel, who is also a producer and who mixed the session, extrudes his synthesizer licks throughout. his playing bulldozes extravagant phrasing that resemble flashy r&b organ tremolo half the time and gaudy rock lead guitar licks the other half. klare himself blasts, cries and snorts from his horns on this collection of originals which he mostly composed.

a little more than half the length of you are so me, but almost twice as worthy, is modern primitive. the supposition may be that the cd, which is made up of nine group compositions played by a quartet, is of higher quality because the other players are from the jazz-improv field. german bassist meinrad kneer moves between berlin and amsterdam and among improvised, ethnic and contemporary music. co-founder of the evil rabbit label, he plays in bands like the ab baars quartet and the joost buis tentet. meantime boston area guitarist jeff platz leads his own band when not in europe with groups such as modern primitive. the most experienced member of the group is drummer bill elgart, an american expatriate based since the 1970s in ulm, germany. his associations over the years include pianist paul bley, trumpeter kenny wheeler and bassist ed schuller. he, reedist baars and kneer also work as a trio.

a colorist who expresses himself with pops, cracks and smacks, elgart would appear to be the dr. jekyll to camatta’s mr. hyde on the other cd. camatta cleaves heavily to a repeated backbeat and pushes nearly every tune with staccatissimo rhythms. on the weaker cuts the ghosts of keith emerson, sandy nelson and nino tempo seem to hover; fine companions for rock, but not jazz. better are tracks such as “es” and “het”. the latter brings up images of a fat man falling down the stairs, as the players spin out of a combination of calliope-styled organ glissandi, a clattering sand dance from the drummer and extended baritone sax slurs from klare. the former, a power-ballad, manages to mix john bonham-styled backbeats with popping snorts and squeals from the saxophonist and siegel doing double duty creating skittering keyboard washes and a melody line that could have come from a guitar. even “a” seems faintly derivative with a melody redolent of “spill the wine”, siegel’s organ work more reminiscent of earl grant than jimmy smith and the accompaniment divided between repetitive drum beats and harsh reed bites.

when the trio asserts itself with original configurations the result is more interesting. “ta” for instance matches almost mechanized backbeat shuffles and ruffs from camatta with constant, colorful pumps from the synthesizer surmounted by slippery slurs from the reed which sound like they were processed through a varitone. “o” harmonizes alternate snorting or screaming baritone sax licks with jagged organ-like chords, until the percussionist’s backbeat demands faux-orientalism from the keyboardist.

seemingly a more profound effort is modern primitive and not just because of elgart’s relative restraint. kneer’s bass work provides the right mix of descriptive picks, distinctive arco sawing and rumbling; platz’s slurred fingering and tonal distortion breaks up the thematic material; and klare makes more use of his clarinet and flute. for instance on “impish episode” thin clarinet vibrations almost mirror guitar plucks until klare introduces narrow tongue flutters and split tone trills as platz claw-hammers his strokes downward. the drummer contributes cymbal slaps and rim shots while kneer strokes his bass strings steadily below the bridge before matching bow strokes to percussion outlays.

laid back but methodical slaps mark the bassist’s note stretching on “a gently sloping knoll”, while elgart’s rapid strokes, clangs and drags join reed slurps in counterpoint with rapid guitar licks. meanwhile rather than a romantic ballad, “can you hear the rain?” is instead a showcase for the guitarist’s slurred fingering and multi-effects, mixed with triple-tonguing overblowing and pressurized lip vibratos from the clarinetist.

most effective is the strategy on “puppet party’ that is stentorian enough that it could easily be adopted by you are so me’s trio. wide guitar twangs and harsh downwards strokes mix it up with long-lined vibrations from the saxophonist, while kneer outputs a spiccato, spiky bass line and elagart demonstrates his skills with energetic rim shots, bouncing ratamacues and rim shots. but no one’s reach exceeds his grasp.

on the evidence of these cds, and where klare is concerned, it appears that a more satisfying program arises when the players have less of a singular mind and are add a hearty helping of musical sophistication to their improvisations. — Ken Waxman

jeff platz | jan klare | meinrad kneer | bill elgart | modern primitive | evilrabbitrecords

 

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