Kris Wanders – Mani Neumeier Quintet | Taken by Surprise | Not Two Records

Not Two, 2011 | MW 861-2 | CD

Kris Wanders – Tenor Sax | Brett Evans – Tenor Sax | Yusuke Akai – Guitar | Rory Brown – Double Bass | Mani Neumeier – Drums

Recorded January 19, 2011. Compositions: 1 And 3 By Brett Evans © 2011. Composition: 2 By Kris Wanders © 2011. Graphic Design: Pamela Kurth.  Recording & Mixing: Darren Reston. Mastering: Peet Gardner. Production: Joseph Westonsmith & Marek Winiarski

Tracklist: 1. Oxymoron [23:30] 2. Taken By Surprise [24:32] 3. Not On Radio [19:34]

Some maybe surprised that about 40 years

when they first collaborated with each other in the Peter Brötzmann Quintet and later in Alexander von Schlippenbach’s Globe Unity, Kris Wanders and Mani Neumeier made their first CD together. During those 40 years they went in quite different directions musically.

When Mani visited Australia they connected again and the collaboration proceeded in fits and starts with different musicians. Finally they came up with the concept of using 2 horns, guitar, double bass and drums, which has resulted in a unifying musical direction. The importance of this collaboration is the interaction between the musicians based on relationship and trust. This made it possible to produce complete freedom, feeling and emotion in the music.

The music has evolved since the time of their first collaboration. This apparent make-over of so called “free jazz” is often mistakenly thought to be the result of changes in the style itself. Instead, it is the social milieu in which the music now finds itself that has changed. And while it may seem that the music has only recently awoken from a protracted sonic hibernation, it has in fact been wide awake since alarm bells opened its eyes for the first time in the 1960’s. Unfortunately we live in a time where progressive politics are in retreat and where the social gains of the last half-century are steadily being unravelled. Even worse, we find ourselves the subjects of a home-grown fundamentalism — this time of the market.

Yet, here we encounter a music that has successfully resisted being turned into a commodity. We hear a music that stands radically for the social, and which seeks to speak a truth unaffected by fashion or self interest. We confront a music whose sound remains raw, primal, urgent, ecstatic and, most of all, spontaneous. In the social realm these qualities have acted, time and time again, as the touchstone of cultural renewal and regeneration. It is the desire for a return to these qualities in public life that gives their manifestation in free jazz added significance and draws our attention to the music once more. — Simon Felice

During the mid-to-late 1960’s

future Guru Guru drummer (Mani Neumeier) and tenor saxist (Kim Wanders) played together in the Peter Brotzmann Quintet and in an early version of the Globe Unity Orchestra. Since that time, Mr. Wanders moved to Australia where he still lives and Mr. Neumeier went on to form Guru Guru and collaborate with members of Acid Mothers Temple and Kazuhisa Uchihashi. Now, more than forty years later Mr. Wanders and Mr. Neumeier have gotten back together and put together an extraordinary quintet of mostly lesser known Australian musicians.

‘Taken by Surprise’ consists of three long pieces composed by either saxist, two by Brett Evans and one by Kris Wanders. “Oxymoron” has a strong memorable repeating theme which is played by the guitar, bowed bass and drums with smoking tenor sax riding the waves on top. Wow! Totally tight, focused and intense. Not sure which saxist is first but the first solo is just incredible. The playing and intricate interaction with the guitar, bass and drums is also completely inspired. This fabulous quintet sounds like like Takyanagi’s New Direction Unit (one of Japan’s finest free/jazz bands ever!), no small feat in itself. Guitarist Yusuke Akai is a monster musician, strumming furiously and jabbing those hyper chords tightly with the waves of rhythm underneath. Mr. Wanders (I believe) has that extreme Brotzmann-like note shredding sound, twisting his notes inside out. I really dig the powerful double sax and guitar harmonies that start off and conclude the first piece. The cosmic vibe is somewhere between early seventies British avant/jazz and South Africa roots/free form dynamism. It always amazes me when the CD of the week comes from a quintet that so few have heard of previously. I was indeed ‘taken by surprise’ – thoroughly Mind-Blowing! — Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery



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