Peter Brötzmann | Masahiko Satoh | Takeo Moriyama | Yatagarasu | Not Two Records

Not Two | MW 894-2 | CD

Takeo Moriyama – drums | Masahiko Satoh – piano | Peter Brötzmann – alto & tenor saxes, tarogato, B-flat clarinet

Recorded at the Manngha Hall, Krakow, Poland on November 8, 2011 by Rafal Drewniany. Mixed on March 5, 2012 by Peter Brötzmann and Rafal Drewniany at DTS Studio. Produced by Marak Winiarski and Brötzm. Art and design: Brötzm. Photos: Peter Gannushkin. All music by Brötzmann/Satoh/Moriyama. FMP-Publishing

Tracklist: 1. Yatagarasu [26:20] 2. Icy Spears [30:34] 3. Autumn Drizzle [07:15] 4. Frozen Whistle [03:24]

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2 thoughts on “Peter Brötzmann | Masahiko Satoh | Takeo Moriyama | Yatagarasu | Not Two Records

  1. Peter Brötzmann is one of those musicians who people tend to discuss whenever the conversation turns to whether or not free jazz’s signature of unbridled passionate intensity is natural or forced. (“C’mon, nobody feels anything that intensely for 90 minutes straight!”) Personally, I think Brötzmann negates the question completely. The man is a force of nature. Yeah, his reputation says he’s a screamer, Europe’s Ayler, whatever – but this is simply focusing on his patented knockout punch. Admittedly, he can deliver that punch for 20 minutes straight but his approach is not singular by any means, as this disc (and his entire discography) proves. Yatagarasu is his trio with Takeo Moriyama on drums & Masahiko Satoh on piano; and this disc was recorded in front of a very lucky audience in Poland last year.

    The first track, “Yatagarasu,” (named for a Japanese Crow God) opens with a bang. Long vibrato melodic fragments bellow out of Brotzmann’s sax, supported freely by Moriyama while Satoh stabs wild chords on the piano. (Imagine Rashied Ali and Alice Coltrane playing with Ayler.) The trio reaches a feverish intensity shortly after the seven minute mark that doesn’t really pull back for three minutes, which – not surprisingly – turns out to be a mere warm-up for this band. This track also features a drum solo by Moriyama about 17 minutes in, before Brötzmann appears for some slow(er) and spacious duo action. The track builds to another amazing crescendo before crashing to a screeching halt.

    Satoh and Brötzmann begin “Icy Spears” by playing in the upper registers of their respective instruments. Satoh plays from the post-Cecil school, utilizing plenty of staccato punch and space. In the second section of this track, Brotzmann works up a smoky Ben Webster impression while Satoh finds a softer way of dicing up the keys and Moriyama works the brushes; but by the 12:30 mark they’re reaching another peak of fiery intensity. Then Satoh gets a spot to himself, sounding not unlike Matthew Shipp in the way that his playing is purposeful and precise but still open to any and all possibilities. Brötzmann enters playing long, pretty notes, prompting Satoh to bang out quick, sharp, discordant runs in the upper register of the piano. Naturally, Brötzmann’s response is to squeal harder and higher, throwing Satoh to the floor to bang on the lower keys.

    “Autumn Drizzle” opens with Satoh playing what sounds like “Cecil Chopsticks” and then it gets solid. Moriyama jumps in and matches the piano groove with a loony cumbia beat before both begin to approximate the rhythm more freely. By the time Brötzmann arrives it’s turned into a rent party gone to hell with people heaving furniture out of windows, breaking lamps, and shooting the T.V.

    A (figurative) foghorn blows a one-note drone at the beginning of “Frozen Whistle” and the drone stays intact throughout via the left hand of Masahiko Satoh. Satoh’s right hand holds down the upper register, leaving the middle to Brötzmann’s tarogato and its vaguely Middle Eastern melody. It’s an enigmatic and beautiful short meditative piece, a knockout punch every bit as potent as the one Brötzmann’s reputation rests on.

  2. Improvised music in Europe has developed out of American free jazz, without the first musicians of that genre (and Peter Brötzmann is one of them) being simple epigones. Even his early works like his trio with Fred Van Hove (piano) and Han Bennink (drums) were bold and independent, yet unfinished sketches of a new music, a typical standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants thing. This is why some improvisers, who claim the outstanding and ultimate originality of their music being only indebted to moment and interaction, are only partly right. Non-idiomatic improvisation is not reduced if you consider individual and genre-related history as parts of what is happening in this music. If Sigmund Freud was right and men do everything deliberately, then a reflection with consciously or unconsciously and inevitably used knowledge of musical history helps to create and understand this great, dazzling and wonderful network of contemporary free jazz.

    Peter Brötzmann has always known that. In “Soldier of the Road”, a documentary about him, he says that he considers himself a “middle European guy” with all the history (and the clichés – even the negative ones) it brings with it. He knows that he is influenced by Sidney Bechet and Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman (in other words: the blues), but also by German brass bands and political folk songs (as you can see in his version of “Einheitsfrontlied” with Van Howe and Bennink).

    In all the reviews of this week you can see that there is a certain linearity and consistency in Brötzmann’s approach. On “Yatagarasu” he teams up with Masahiko Satoh (piano) and Takeo Moriyama (drums) which refers to his trio with Van Howe and Bennink (see above) and their seminal albums “Balls” (1970) and “Tschüss” (1975). Although Brötzmann has also released similar trios with Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink (“3 Points and a Mountain”), Alex von Schlippenbach and Sven-Ake Johannson (“Up and Down the Lion”) and Marilyn Crispell and Hamid Drake (“Hyperion”) over the years, this line-up is relatively rare in his work.

    “Yatagarasu” is an almost classical album, an iconoclastic outbreak, just because Satoh’s and Moriyama’s ways of playing differ completely from those of the musicians mentioned above although both of them are Japanese free jazz veterans of Brötzmann’s generation as well. Especially Satoh draws on the unlimited resources of jazz history in a way – let’s say – Matthew Shipp does it as well. While Fred Van Howe is mainly a sound pioneer exploring the limits of the piano and Marilyn Crispell has a rather romantic approach somehow, Satoh’s playing is based on his education as a classical composer and on swing and modern jazz. Moriyama, in contrast, is a very skilled listener, trying to provide maximum back up for his comrades. His style differs from Bennink, who has always tried to include humorous and clownesque aspects, and Drake, who is deeply rooted in African-American jazz, in a way that he is reserved but absolutely determined and focused. In the end the trio somehow reminds me of Cecil Taylor’s band on his early release “Nefertiti, the Beautiful One has come”.

    The album consists of two larger pieces (“Yatagarasu” – a three-legged crow representing the sun in Asian mythology – and “Icy Spears”) and two shorter pieces (“Autumn Drizzle” and “Frozen Whistle”), which are the actual highlights of the CD, especially “Frozen Whistle”, which is just a sketch, is of the utmost beauty. “YAT” is superb, conservative (in a positive way) free jazz.

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