Thomas Borgmann | Wilber Morris | Reggie Nicholson | Nasty & Sweet | No Business Records

Thomas Borgmann – reeds | Wilber Morris – bass |  Reggie Nicholson – drums

Nasty & Sweet (FMP publishing) by Thomas Borgmann / Wilber Morris / Dennis Charles. We went that away and Wilber’s Mood by Thomas Borgmann / Wilber Morris / Reggie Nicholson. Nasty & Sweet Part I / II and We went that away recorded live at Tampere jazz festival 7th November, 1999. Wilber’s Mood and Nasty & Sweet recorded at St. Ingbert 25th April, 1998. Mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. Design by Oskaras Anosovas. Produced by Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov


Thomas Borgmann

began his career in the early 1980s, working mainly with the Berlin Art Ensemble with Nick Steinhaus (participating in the 1981 South American tour for the Goethe-Institut and the 1982 Nickelsdorfer Konfrontationen). He went on to the Sirone Sextet in New York in 1987. He also spent some time playing with the Hidden Quartet (with Dietmar Diesner, Erik Balke, and Jonas Akerblom), and the Noise & Toys (with Valery Dudkin, Sascha Kondraschkin). In 1991 Borgmann founded the Orkestra Kith ‘n Kin, bringing together Hans Reichel, John Tchicai, Pat Thomas, Jay Oliver, Mark Sanders, and Lol Coxhill, amongst others. A year later came Ruf der Heimat, which included Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky (Ruf der Heimat, 1995) and Peter Brötzmann (Machine Kaput, 1996, both Konnex). Borgmann has taken part in trio Blue Zoo, with Peter Brötzmann and Borah Bergman (Ride into the Blue, 1996 and Blue Zoo, 1997, both Konnex). Throughout 1984, and continuing until 1996, he also organized the STAKKATO festival in Berlin.

In 1995 Borgmann began working with Wilber Morris and Denis Charles, forming the BMC-Trio. After Charles’ death in 1998, Borgmann and Morris teamed with Reggie Nicholson creating the “BMN-Trio”, which continued performing until 2002. Borgmann also participated in the quartet Alliance with Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, DJ Jayrope, and Michael Griener. Borgmann and Brötzmann meet the New York rhythm team of William Parker and Rashid Bakr on Cooler Suite (2003, Grob). Initially teaming with Tony Buck, and Joe Williamson, Borgmann formed the trio “Boom Box”, releasing their album Jazz in 2011. He continues to perform with the group, now playing with Willi Kellers and Akira Ando. He also continues to tour international Jazz festivals around the world.

During his career, Borgmann has taken part in concerts, tours, and recordings with artists including Peter Brötzmann, Borah Bergman, Paul Lovens, Tony Buck, Paul Lytton, Evan Parker, John Tchicai, Conny Bauer, Johannes Bauer, Charles Gayle, Heinz Sauer, Lol Coxhill, Phil Minton, William Parker, Jason Hwang, Thurston Moore, Shoji Hano, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Rashied Bakr, Roy Campbell, Perry Robinson, Kip Hanrahans Latin Groove, and Jean-Paul Bourelly. Thomas Borgmann has twice been the recipient of the Berlin Jazz-Grant, first in 1994, and again in 1996.

Reggie Nicholson

Reggie Nicholson

drummer, percussionist and composer is a native of Chicago, Illinois. While performing with many musicians in Chicago, such as Jon Logan, Von Freeman, Vince Willis, Byther Smith, Fred Nelson III and Orbit Davis, Nicholson’s reputation as an outstanding drummer was established. In 1979, Nicholson became a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). During this time, Nicholson developed a musical relationship with all the members of the AACM including Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve McCall, Edward Wilkerson, Jr., Henry Threadgill, Phil Cohran, Joseph Jarman, Mwata Bowden, Ernest Dawkins, Douglas Ewart, Rita Warford, Amina Claudine Myers & Anthony Braxton.

Since relocating to New York City in 1988, Nicholson has performed with a wide variety of Jazz and New Music luminaries such as Don Pullen, Jon Hendricks, Billy Bang, Butch Morris, Reuben Wilson, Melvin Sparks, Abdullah Ibrahim, Sonny Rollins, Hamiet Bluiett, Myra Melford , Wilber Morris and Roy Campbell. Nicholson has performed in many noted festivals throughout Europe, Asia and the United States including, Chicago, North Sea, Saalfelden, Verona, Knitting Factory- NYC, Red Sea, Tampere, Moers, Nancy, just to name a few. The instantly recognizable style and sound of his drumming and his music has elevated Nicholson as one of the most distinctive, inventive and inspirational composer and percussionist of his generation.

Wilber Morris

Wilber Morris

Accomplished free jazz bassist and bandleader Wilber Morris was born November 27, 1937, in Los Angeles, and was the older brother of cornetist Lawrence “Butch” Morris. He began playing drums as a child, and joined the Air Force in 1954; during his tour of duty, which lasted until 1962, he switched to the bass. In his off time, Morris played around San Francisco with the likes of Pharoah Sanders and Sonny Simmons, and when he left the service, he returned to Los Angeles and played with Arthur Blythe and Horace Tapscott. He moved back to San Francisco in 1969, but his jazz career didn’t really take off until he relocated to New York in 1978. Morris soon found work with violinist Billy Bang and saxophonist David Murray, the latter of which would grow into a long-standing association that lasted well into the ’90s. While performing on Murray’s classic early-’80s octet sessions, Morris also formed his own trio, Wilber Force, in 1981. Initially featuring drummer Denis Charles and saxophonist Charles Tyler, the group recorded an LP titled Collective Improvisations for Bleu Regard in 1981. The double-LP follow-up, Wilber Force, featured Murray in place of Tyler. From 1986 onward, Morris held various teaching positions in addition to recording and performing. He began to work outside Murray’s group more often beginning in the mid-’90s, playing with Charles Gayle, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Noah Howard, Roy Campbell, Bob Ackerman, and Thomas Borgmann, among others; he also founded the One World Ensemble in 1995, and the following year was a member of pianist John Fischer’s one-off reunion of INTERface. In the new millennium, Morris performed with Rashied Ali and Bobby Few; however, sadly, a previous bout of cancer returned, and Morris passed away on August 8, 2002. — Steve Huey, Rovi


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4 thoughts on “Thomas Borgmann | Wilber Morris | Reggie Nicholson | Nasty & Sweet | No Business Records

  1. From the first few notes, it’s apparent that something special is happening on Nasty & Sweet. Perhaps it’s the way bassist Wilber Morris and drummer Reggie Nicholson sound so assured in their placement of the merest splashes of color. Completely unafraid to take their time, creating a powerful tension which isn’t released even when German reedman Thomas Borgmann joins with his breathily majestic tenor saxophone smears. There is a story here.

    Borgmann’s trio with the monster US rhythm team of Morris and drummer Denis Charles was one of the great unsung working bands of the 1990s, releasing a series of marvelous performances, such as Boom Swing (Konnex, 1998) and Stalker Songs (CIMP, 1998) with saxophone titan Peter Brotzmann. When Charles passed away in 1998, the remaining pair made the decision to carry on, recruiting AACM stalwart Nicholson to fill the drum chair. With just one obscure vinyl disc and a single studio album to their name—the well-regarded You See What We’re Sayin’ (CIMP, 1999)—the resultant BMN trio similarly flew below the critical radar. So this two-LP set, documenting two live dates from St. Ingbert in Germany in 1998 and Tampere in Finland in 1999 doubles their discography at a stroke.

    Honed to perfection through touring, the group ethos is one of equality and fleet responsiveness, turning on a dime from Berlin blues to ear shredding harmonics and roiling tattoos. Deep listening characterizes their interaction. Borgmann takes an unfettered lyrical approach, though he spices his poignant sweetness with pitch bending microtonal distortion and impassioned overblowing. Morris makes an art out of sculpting sounds from his amplified acoustic bass, strumming, bowing and tapping to extract a range of percussive textures in effective variance to his customary melodic counterpoint, while Nicholson drives the engine room sensitively, combining timbral smarts and fierce precision.

    Spread over two sides, the 52-minute title track stands as a masterpiece of organically evolving group interplay, full of passion and warmth. By way of contrast, “We Went That Away” convinces as an up-tempo burner, while on “Wilber’s Mood” the German’s snake charmer sopranino embarks on a roller coaster ride. As much a mood as a tune, the band revisits “Nasty & Sweet” for the final cut, where an elegiac air pervades proceedings before the intensity builds incrementally, though regrettably the track fades out. Sadly Morris, brother of the recently deceased cornetist and exponent of conduction Laurence Butch Morris, died in 2002 signaling the end of the BMN Trio, making this unexpected resurrection all the more worth celebrating.

  2. Thomas Borgmann and Wilber Morris musical partnership is of the match made in heaven kind.

    BMN Trio was born after the untimely death of late Dennis Charles and it’s music might be perceived as a sign of continuity as well as of perserverance, relentlesness of creative passion.

    The “Nasty & Sweet” double LP release presents a concert from Tampere Jazz 1999 festival (the epic title track takes the both sides of the firt disc + “We Went That Way” occupies half of the Side C) and fills remaining space with a performance from St. Ingbert from a year and half before (the Nasty & Sweet returns to fill the Side D).

    From the very first notes of this release you can feel some magic in the air as delicate arco bass notes, spare percussion and spiritual sax whispers to shape and form the space. The chemistry of this unit is unbelievable, the strenghth of their voice overwhelming, the excitement of creation palpable.

    Midway the second part of Nasty & Sweet from Tampere the trio gets into thick blues groove, with the soulfull soprano, fat bass walk and nasty drums to put a smile on your face. As they’re speed up this slow blues line, the music goes haywire crazy, the horn starts screaming and shouting, Wilber strokes the bass one two punch and the drums just keep running. This unit is like a heavy weight champion with the speed and the precision of a kung-fu fighter.

    “We Went That Way” ends the Tampere concerts swinging joyfully at ankle-breaking pace with grace although the band will make take it up a notch with growling notes, just to keep you on your toes.

    The second concert gives you a chance to hear another version of “Nasty & Sweet”, more coincised and possibly more spiritual. The comparison gives you a good perspective of how rich and in-depth is the creative immagination and passion displayed by the three masterfull musicians. Rarely a title expresses that well the music but between the gritty and uninhibited passion and spiritual pensieveness the music is exactly that : nasty and sweet.

    A monumental performance from a brilliant trio – I daresay this one should be on any free jazz fans must have list this year.

    ps. there are more good news for free jazz fans. Not Two records should soon press a Thomas Borgmann – Wilber Morris – Dennis Charles trio “Live in Poland” cd which is a re-issue of a long gone and extremely limited vinyl.

  3. By now, the movements in a work like Nasty & Sweet should have commonly used names. While unmediated dynamics still seems to deny This Music consideration by “real” scholars and critics of “real” music, the structural organization throughout Nasty & Sweet is a familiar one that spans all music. Nasty & Sweet Part I starts as so many pieces of music involving 3 musicians have and will, as there are only so many ways for a trio to go from silence to sound in any music. It is a sprawling alap setting the level of musicianship for the rest of the recording.

    Thomas Borgman is one of those rare examples of equal part musician and instrumental virtuoso. The facets are many to Borgman’s Tenor tone; in it one hears Coleman Hawkins, Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler and of course, John Coltrane. Borgmann transmutes those now familiar antecedents into something convincing. Less mugging in daddy’s pork-pie, more a reading of the gospel before King James got a hold of it. His Soprano (and I believe Sopranino) playing, though not as tonally diverse, is no less tonally distinct than his sound on tenor. It is on the smaller horns where his virtuoso side waxes without the musicianship waining.

    With Morris’ bass and alternatively and Nichols’ drumming, there is little Borgmann could have done to stall the momentum or derail the train. Morris was no less the bassist than Richard Davis, Fred Hopkins or Jimmy Garrison. Sonically and functionally, it is fair to place him in their company. Nichols, another giant of the rhythm section keeps pace with Morris and Borgmann at the same time—a feat that would otherwise necessitates two “normal” drummers. There is no immediate idiosyncratic hook to Nichols drumming, just above average skill firmly rooted in Jazz and the music that supplanted it as the central art music of our day. This is likely why he is so enjoyable to listen to.

    Understandably Nasty & Sweet Part I and II have all the hallmarks of live performance—the grandeur of gesture and the bell curve shaped structure. It is interesting to hear Nasty & Sweet (the 5th track on the recording) which, based on the information available to me, I assume was not a recording from a performance. The difference is subtle, which leads me to believe live or in the studio, this group functioned on a high level regardless of the setting. There’s an honesty there worth noting—or setting against the rest of the Parent Culture’s fakery. Your choice.

  4. Aux côtés de Sirone à la fin des années 1980 puis à la tête de l’Orkestra Kith’N Kin – présences de John Tchicai, Lol Coxhill ou Pat Thomas – ou encore associé à Peter Brötzmann, Thomas Borgmann dévoila ses fiévreuses intentions musicales. Des dispositions pour le trio l’incitèrent à fréquenter plus régulièrement encore Wilber Morris et Denis Charles de 1995 à 1998 (BMC Trio, dont Silkheart publiera The Last Concert). A la disparition de Charles, Reggie Nicholson prit place derrière la batterie : BMN Trio donnera des concerts jusqu’en 2002.

    En 1999 – soit quelques mois après s’être produit à la Spirit Room de Rossie (disque CIMP You See What We’re Sayin’?) –, Borgmann, Morris et Nicholson étaient du Tempere Jazz Festival. La mise en place prend son temps, celui nécessaire à la déposition d’une texture qui démontre déjà la cohérence de la formation. Selon qu’il intervient au ténor ou au soprano, Borgmann instille ensuite – Sweet puis Nasty, alors – une improvisation aux reliefs abrupts ou verse dans un free autrement précipité. Morris modifiant avec subtilité les couleurs du décorum et Nicholson battant la mesure en hachant toutes secondes, voilà que les quatre faces ont passé avec force et rapidité. En supplément, trouver deux autres pièces improvisées le 25 avril 1998 : Wilber’s Mood et autre Nasty & Sweet. L’idée est la même, qui persiste et signe : il est temps de faire plus ample connaissance avec l’art de Thomas Borgmann.

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