Big Bad Brötzmann Quintet:

(EUPH 066)

Peter Brötzmann - tarogato, tenor saxophone, clarinet
Oliver Schwerdt - grand piano, percussion, little instruments
John Edwards - double bass
John Eckhardt- double bass
Christian Lillinger - drums, cymbals, percussion

01 Karacho! (51’26)

The carnival of the year.
Mark Corroto, All About Jazz

Brötzmann swimming in a fountain of youth that evening.
He delivered one of the best performances I’ve heard from him in the last five years.
However, the real sensation of this recording is Oliver Schwerdt.

Martin Schray, The Free Jazz Collective

With Karacho! Oliver Schwerdt and Christian Lillinger continue their work producing a classical free jazz setting which they worked out with GDR superstar Ernst-Ludwig "Luten" Petrowsky (listen especially to EUPHORIUM Records releases Tumult!, Krawall!, Rabatz!) from 2006-16. Within the 2017's group Petrowsky is replaced by the West German equivalent Peter Brötzmann, another energy player from the founding father's generation of Free Jazz. And again we have the doubled position of the double bass: instead of Robert Landfermann who did the job within the Luten's quintet we can experience the work of John Eckhardt. After releasing the audio document as CD on EUPHORIUM Records EUPHORIUM Films decided to publish the view from the long shot of a fixed camera in a middle position of the auditorium: it's kind of superb modality representing the adventure of an intense interplay.

Selbstverständlich hat Oliver Schwerdt nach der Einspielung des grandiosen Finales des Spätwerks von Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky und dem nur wenig später durch gesundheitlichen Einbruch bedingten Scheiden des ost-deutschen Superstars aus dem Spiel des Free Jazz sogleich an eine Fortsetzung des seit 2011 aufgespannten Quintetts mit Lutens west-deutschem Pendant Peter Brötzmann, gedacht. Zu dem für den 7. Oktober 2017 verabredeten Konzert reist der als Pionier der Szene ‒ Brötzmann war bekanntlich der Saxofonist des ersten europäisch besetzten basslosen Trios ‒ zum Heros Stilisierte ausgerechnet aus Warschau, jener Stadt an, in der er 1974 noch einmal in der musik-instrumentalen Konstellation des Coltrane-Quartetts (S c h l i p p e n b a c h T r i o ohne Evan Parker mit Peter Kowald) einen legendären und heute über Youtube noch täglich fesselnd zu vergegenwärtigenden Auftritt absolviert hatte. In Leipzig warten jetzt gleich zwei Bassisten auf Brötz. Für den einen, John Edwards, hat Schwerdt gleich zwei Kontrabässe besorgt. Der Londoner kommt aus Moskau per Flugzeug und hat am Vorabend Evan Parkers Abendessen aufgegessen. Der andere John, Eck- hardts, kommt mit eigenem Bass aus Hamburg per Zug und kann sich an ein kurzes Date mit Brötzmann im E n s e m b l e M o d e r n erinnern. Während in Moskau das S c h l i p p e n b a c h T r i o sich anschickt die Bühne zu besteigen, hat auch Schwerdt als Startrampe für den Abend in Leipzig die basslose Trio-Konstellation gewählt: neben seinem historischen Bewusstsein mag zugleich die bei dieser transparenteren Instrumentierung erhöht zu erwartenden Interaktionsfrequenz entschieden haben. Es ist das erste Zusammentreffen von Christian Lillinger und Brötzmann. Dem Alten stehen zwei geschwinde Jungs zur Verfügung: nach einer Viertelstunde Biturbo!, Capt'n die beiden Johns hinzugerückt, bietet sich dem Publikum nach den 2013-15 mit Luten eingespielten Quintetten Tumult!, Krawall!, Rabatz! ein sagenhaftes Karacho!

Format: CD
Price: 24,99 €
ISBN: 978-3-944301-48-8
Digital download:





Peter Brotzmann (Tárogató [Tarogato], Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet), Oliver Shwerdt (Grand Piano, Percussion, Instruments [Little Instruments]), Christian Lillinger (Drums, Cymbal [Cymbals], Percussion), John Eckhardt (double bass) and John Edwards (double bass) are the members of “Big Bad Brötzmann Quintet”. The music of quintet is always evocative and bright, based on synthesis of European and American avant-garde jazz streams and their main basics. The improvisers are the stars of avant-garde jazz scene – they had already developped their own and original sound, brand new conception and innovative way of improvising many years ago. Together they always demonstrate the best capacities of improvising, original playing techniques and driving style.
“Karacho!” is the newest release of “Big Bad Brötzmann Quintet”. Astonishing, driving and passionate sound is created in all compositions. The music is recorded by the masters of improvising – telephatic collaboration and masterful corresponding to each other’s playing makes an effort to bright, free and impressive collective improvisations. Splendid virtuosity, dynamic changes, driving riffs, rigorous blow outs and bright contrasts are the main compounds of the compositions. An open form and free improvisation, as well as the basics of avant-garde jazz, contain the fundaments of stylistic variety and structure of the compositions. Exotic and expressive tarogato, tenor saxophone and clarinet by Peter Brotzmann become the keys of independent and exciting melody line. Peter Brotzmann is demonstrating his own and original style – filled with drive, radiant bursts of energy, extremely loud, rigorous and perturbating blow outs and expressive melodies. Bright sparkling riffs, transcendental passages, luminous driving melodies accompagnied by striking thrills, sharp growls, aggressive noisy shrieks, hysteric wainings and astonishing sonoristic experiments – Peter Brotzmann succesfully blends all these elements together and creates an impressive and tremendous improvisations played in driving style, expressive manner and active bright mood. These melodies bring a tremendous, driving and passionate sound to whole album and dictate the main mood of melody line. Noisy, rigorous, bright and luminous piano tinged with percussion, objects and various types of instruments brings dramatic, passionate and dynamic mood. Oliver Shwerdt is moderating wide range of chords, expressions and moods to create an effective sound – vital, energetic and expressive piano is filled with vital melodies, driving solos, sudden attacks, striking riffs, radiant perturbations, breaking sessions, sharp persecuting sequences and strange timbres joined with colorful percussion, ornaments and passages of all kinds. Elegant, light and vital sound suddenly gets rough, frantic and hysteric, sometimes – angry, furious, wild, perturbating or sophisticated, solemn and calm. Pianist expresses all kinds of moods and expressions – that makes the music expressive, vivid and dynamic. Both double bass players – John Eckhardt and John Edwards – are creating a rich variety of sounds and expressions. A mix of ambient tunes, modest, solemn, sophisticated and lyrical solos played in contemplative and dreamy mood are connected to exciting strikes, wild riffs, stormy perturbations, long persecutions of timbres, rhythms and sounds, bursting energy’s explosions and suggestive free improvisations. Both improvisers are using their virtuosity, drive, passion and creativity to create an expressive, interesting and bright sound. Complicated bebop, expressive nervous post bop, aggressive, sharp and beating hard bop back to repetitive series, steady beats, lonely tunes rising to extremely loud riffs, sensible trills, roaring rolls, perturbations, persecuting furious sessions, driving solos and impressive free improvisations – all these elements are brought together to individual and evocative rhythmic section created by Christian Lillinger. The music of this album has an inspiring, driving and expressive sound.
AVANT SCENA, N.N. ( [20191211])

15 years ago, in 2004, Oliver Schwerdt and Christian Lillinger met for the first time and Schwerdt had the plan to spark off a band that was supposed to play classic free jazz of the 1960s and 70s. The two invited East German free jazz icon Luten Petrowsky to join on saxophone and clarinet and finally played their first concert in 2006. In 2008 they recorded White Power Blues (Euphorium Records) and expanded the trio to a quintet with Robert Landferman and John Edwards on the basses - the wonderful New Old Luten Project. The focus here was clearly on Petrowsky, even if the whole band was an extraordinary powerhouse. Petrowsky incorporated the golden age of free jazz, his powerful style being the icing on the cake of outstanding group improvisations. After eight recordings altogether (if you count the trios and septets as well), the project had to come to an end due to Petrowsky’s poor health. Nevertheless, Oliver Schwerdt wanted to continue the project and who else would be more perfect than Petrowsky’s West German equivalent Peter Brötzmann (how he did that you can read in the extensive liner notes if you read German).
In 2017 the new band with Schwerdt (piano, percussion, little instruments), Brötzmann (saxes, clarinet, tárogató), Lillinger (drums, percussion), Edwards (bass) and John Eckardt (bass) - the latter has replaced Robert Landfermann - came together at the old spot, where they recorded the New Old Luten Quintet CDs: the naTo club in Leipzig. From the very beginning the band was playing at a very high energy level, which is mainly due to Brötzmann’s incredible volume (Schwerdt mentions how surprised he was about that). Brötzmann, who has discovered his soft side with some of his recent releases (see Colin’s great review on his latest solo album here ) and even admitted a certain fancy for songs, seemed to swim in a fountain of youth that evening. Very often his trio with Fred Van Hove and Han Bennink comes to mind (listen to the music around the 8:30 mark), now the energy of the New Old Luten band is propelled further by the two basses, which provide extra driving force and texture. Once again Brötzmann uses his familiar riffs but he does that with a surprising brutality that is reminiscent of the old fire-breather of the 1970s. An example of this is the end of the set when Brötzmann throws in his almost famous Master-Of-A-Small-House theme, but it’s crassly overblown, distorted, torn to pieces. For fans of Brötzmann’s FMP period this might be worth the purchase of this CD alone.
However, the real sensation of this recording is Oliver Schwerdt. He has really grown as a pianist, his performance here should establish him among the top German free jazz pianists. His playing brings together influences of Alexander von Schlippenbach, Fred Van Hove, and even Cecil Taylor. For this concert he soon realized that it wasn’t possible to use highly differentiated chords, they would have drowned in the vortex of the sound of the others. Even clusters were difficult, Schwerdt says in the liner notes, which is why he decided to use cluster tremolos, a real machine gun fire of notes. This really seemed to push Brötzmann, who delivered one of the best performances I’ve heard from him in the last five years. Schwerdt’s project really succeeds in creating a modern version of 1970s free jazz, and for fans of old-school-fire-music this recording is an obvious must.
Karacho! is available as a CD. You can buy it directly from Oliver Schwerdt.
Ask if you can also get the mini CD of the intro performance of the Schwerdt/Lillinger/Brötzmann trio, which opened the evening and which is equally great.
THE FREE JAZZ COLLECTIVE, Martin Schray ( [20200121]):

Ort: Die naTo in Leipzig. Zeit: 7.10.2017. Der 'Boss' an diesem Tag und zuständig für alles: Oliver Schwerdt. Er besorgt: Die PA, einen Konzertflügel für sich, die Drums für Christian Lillinger, die Kontrabässe für John Edwards und John Eckhardt (Robert Landfermann ist terminlich verhindert). Für Brötzmann ein Hotel mit Badewanne, etwas Käse backstage, ein Dinner danach. Es wird Schwerdts First Date mit Brötzmann sein und er trainiert dafür, hört sich auch das Schlippenbach Trio an und "Balls" mit van Hove & Bennink. So dass er sich gewappnet fühlt, was da auf ihn zurollen mag. Was er verschweigt? Tja, Brötzmanns "Alarm" (1983) ist zwar der Anstoß für den "Tumult!", "Krawall!" & "Rabatz!" mit New Old Luten (wie ja wohl auch für das A l'arme!-Festival, das Louis Rastig, der mit am Aftershowtisch im Lulu Lottenstein sitzt, organisiert unter Bezug auf Brötzmanns Total Music Meetings). Aber Brötzmann selber ist dennoch nur das Wessi-Pendant und Schwerdts Ersatz für Ernst-Ludwig 'Luten' Petrowsky beim Versuch, nach dessen Außer-Dienst-Treten weiter seinem Ideal zu frönen, dem basslosen New Old Luten Trio sowie dem New Old Luten Quintet mit gleich zwei Bässen. Mit ihm selber, als nach eigenem Dafürhalten "Soundspieler ersten Ranges" mit Schlagseite zum Perkussiven hin, in der Rolle und mit der Power, dem Elan von Cecil Taylor, van Hove, Ganelin, Schlippenbach. So auch, Vorhang auf, zum Auftakt im BIG BAD BRÖTZMANN TRIO mit Biturbo!, Capt'n (Euphorium Records, EUPH 065, 3"). Und mit Karacho! (EUPH 066) als BIG BAD BRÖTZMANN QUINTET. Das, in der für Brötzmann wohl erstmaligen Konstellation mit Piano und zwei Bässen, ganz "extraterrestisch!" fast die tonmeisterlichen Pegel überflutete und Schwerdt so tsunamisierte, dass er mit gemischten Gefühlen dran zurückdenkt. Fand er sich doch, der sich im Trio noch "fantastisch" gefühlt hatte, mit dem Kreuzfeuer einer Machine-Gun-Phalanx konfrontiert, in der Edwards einen Bass kleinholzte, während Schwerdt sich zu Clustertremoli gezwungen sah, was bei Petrowsky so nie der Fall gewesen war. Doch während er und die Bassisten geschlaucht und schweißgebadet den Beifall entgegen nahmen, hat der souveräne Capt'n, dessen Staccato und Power das Energielevel so hoch getrieben hatte, ohne nennenswerte Schweißtropfen sogar schon sein Jacket wieder angezogen. Dabei ist er gewohnt furios durch 'Ol' Capt'n (Biturbo Kings)' gecruist und hat dabei seinen Bootsmännern freie Hand gelassen, ein Luftloch zu beflirren und zu beklirren. Und um, während er die Klarinette wie eine seiner Zigarillos schmaucht und nur ein paarmal aufglühen lässt, für den Fortgang der Action zu sorgen oder durch den Nebel zu lotsen. Schwerdt ratschend und sprunghaft, kopfüber im Bassregister oder jeden Zentimeter der Keys behämmernd, Lillinger mit schrottiger Nonchalance. Derweil träumt Brötzmann auf dem Tenor so intensiv von der Insel der Seligen, dass ein Zipfel davon auf der Bühne erscheint. Zu fünft, steigt Brötzmann ins trippelige und murxende Rumoren ein mit hymnisch tremolierender Klarinette und animiert damit zu hitzigem, klapprigem, wuseligem Eifer, in dem Schwerdt mit spitzem Trillern und rasant wie Nancarrows Playerpiano die Schaumkrone bildet. Brötzmann kehrt wieder mit schreiendem Tenor und bohrender Insistenz, vom Piano mit manischem Hämmern und Quirlen berauscht, von Lillinger umbebt, von den Bässen umgrummelt. Schwerdt haut Stufen, die Bassbogen flöten, Lillinger klirrt, das Tenorsax nimmt sich, irrwitzig betrillert, große Gefühle zur Brust. Bogen zirpen und sägen, Stöckchen flirren, hauen, ste­chen, Brötzmann bläst ein Brandloch, Schwerdt überspringt Stufen, auf- und querwärts. Das Tenor webstert starkes Vibrato, Metall schillert und sirrt, Schwerdt hämmert, was das Zeug hält, sucht aber, im Dienst einer feuersalamandrischen Poesie, auch lyrischen Sauer­stoff. Pizzicato murmelt und feine Percussion animiert Brötzmann dazu, mit der Tarogato die dionysisch geschwängerte Luft in Brand zu setzen, als Feuerzunge eines enthusiasmierten Organismus. Funken plinken, Pegasus galoppiert, aber sag keiner, die kleinen Dinge kämen unter die Hufe der großen. Big & bad ist nur der Kältetod, nicht die flammenzüngelnde Klarinette und nicht das Tenorsax als vitaler Widerpart. Brötzmann erscheint auch nicht als Capt'n, sondern als erster unter fünf Heizern, fünf Hymnikern im glühenden Bauch des Leviathan. Den Lilli-Schwerdt 2018 weiter schürten im tollen Spagat zwischen Herkunft und Heute - mit Akira Sakata zu dritt und zu fünft mit Eckhardt & Borghini bzw. mit John Dikeman und im Quintett mit Edwards & Ingebrigt Håker Flaten!!
BAD ALCHEMY, Rigobert Dittmann (Bad Alchemy Nr. 105) (202003), S. 20

New releases from Oliver Schwerdt’s Euphorium-label tend not to come one by one. Often a few interlinked recordings are released. This time this counts for the Brötzmann-releases that were preceded by a new solo statement by Schwerdt. Often musicians are also travelers. But not in the case of Schwerdt who still resides in Leipzig where he studied and started his activities as a musicologist, performer and organizer. In 1999 he started his Euphorium Freakastra, and in 2003 his Euphorium-label as an outlet for his projects. One of this projects was his quintet with veteran Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky from the East-German scene, with John Edwards and Robert Landfermann on double bass and Christian Lillingger on drums. With this line up he released several memorable albums. His new quintet is again a very intergenerational affair. This time he works with another German improviser from the first generation of free improvisers: Peter Brötzmann who is performing since the 60s as an important force in the West-German scene. In the early days he got infected by Ornette Coleman’s sense of freedom and never got cured since. Up till the very present, as this recording illustrates, Brötzmann is a powerful performer.
Again the quintet has Lillinger as the drummer. Schwerdt works with him since around 2004 when Lillinger was part of the Euphorium Orchestra. Also omnipresent John Edwards is on board. Whereas Landfermann is replaced now by John Eckhardt, a classical and jazz double bass player from Hamburg in a first time collaboration here for Schwerdt’s projects. Together they join for a 51-minute improvisation, a very vibrant undertaking, with a wide range of dynamics, from subtle searching interplay to very decided high-energy sections. From time to time during this session the music develops into a swollen stream of sound. The most impressive and intense of these waves ends around minute 38. The propulsive drumming by Lillinger lift them up to a new plateau or level opening a space of opportunities of more subtle explorations. Virtuoso improvisation with drive and eagerness. I know Brötzmann’s work only very partial. So I’m not sure I should be surprised that there are glimpses of melodic and thematic themes In his playing. For instance on the beginning the Quintet improvisation, but also at the start of the trio improvisation ‘Biturbo! Capt’n ’, recorded at the same occasion (October 7th 2017 at naTo in Leipzig). In this 15-minute improvisation we hear Schwerdt (grand piano, percussion, little instruments), Lillinger (drums, cymbals, percussion), and Brötzmann (tenor sax, clarinet). After the first full-force part, a nice dialogue sets in between drummer and pianist, with Schwerdt using other little instruments as well. A very expressive and fresh trio effort. To conclude there is Schwerdt’s new solo statement ‘Storming Bauhaus’. In 2017 he released a solo record under the moniker of Elan Pauer called ‘Yamaha/Speed’ for Creative Sources Recordings, and also a double cd of solo improvisations for his own Euphorium label, called ‘Prestige/No Smoking’. Both albums as well as this new one were recorded in June 2015. Again Schwerdt shows a preference for long time spans. Subtitled ‘Four Sonic Studies for A Kinetic Sculpture Nowhere else to perform’, he recorded four improvisations spread out on two cds s lasting 70 and 61
minutes. Recordings took place at the Bauhaus-location in Dessau. It was here that during the mid-20s the influential Bauhaus-movement was settled and spread out its ideas on architecture and design. Much later during the 70s and 80s it served as a place for concerts of improvised music. I love listening to Schwerdt in debate with others musicians, more than performing solo. Nonetheless his new effort is a very stunning one if only for continuous stream of energy he is able to generate. Without using extended techniques – playing the inside of piano, etc – he weaves intense streams of sound that urge for a climax. His music continues in a dynamic and restless way using big gestures alternated by more intimate sections. His improvisations seem to be built in a way of a limited set of possibilities by gradually transposing repeated patterns and motives, combined with changes in speed and dynamic. This approach didn’t satisfy me throughout, but Schwerdt proves himself to be a very virtuoso and engaged musicians of whom I hope to hear a lot more.
VITAL WEEKLY, Dolf Mulder ( [20200310

Good free jazz is like a trip to a carnival with its exotic and unfamiliar sights and sounds. Even for an experienced listener, the surprise of great instant composing never grows old. A prime example is Karacho! by the befittingly named Big Bad Brötzmann Quintet. Like visiting the carnival, there are innumerable sound experiences encased within an all-embracing vibe, not disparate parts that fail to integrate.
Recorded in 2017 at the naTo club in Leipzig, Germany, pianist Oliver Schwerdt invited the free jazz master Peter Brötzmann to sit in for his compatriot Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky on reeds. Petrowsky, Brötzmann's senior by eight years, had retired from performing, but not without an impressive output on classic labels such as FMP, Intakt, and Konnex. Petrowsky was also featured in Schwerdt's New Old Luten Trio, Quintet and Septet. This continuation of the Schwerdt-led quintet music also includes bassists John Edwards and John Eckhardt and drummer Christian Lillinger.
The 50+ minutes of this set contains several crescendos, but the leitmotif here is the constant momentum of the performance. The engine for this drive is shared among the players. Early on it is the Cecil Taylor-like work of Schwerdt. His piano attack is a two-handed tempest that inspires Lillinger to follow, igniting a patented Brötzmann tenor saxophone blast. Next up are the two bassists, their bowed versus plucked notes spark cymbal swipes, animated piano, and Lillinger's offbeat explorations. Switching between saxophone, clarinet, and tarogato, Brötzmann changes the performance's mood several times. He can evoke machine gun passions, summon a heart wrenching melancholy sound, or return to some of his favorite reoccurring blues themes, all in service of the ongoing improvisation.
Brötzmann with two basses is a treat. Add the deft and inventive drumming of Lillinger, plus (don't sleep on this) the talents of Oliver Schwerdt and you've got the carnival of the year.
Note: there is also a mini-CD, Biturbo!, Capt'n (Euphorium Records, 2019) by the trio of Brötzmann, Lillinger, and Schwerdt available. Big Bad Brötzmann Trio's 15-minute tour de force "Ol' Capt'n (Biturbo Kings)" was the opening of the above concert. It blew the cobwebs out of the club, probably chased a few unsuspecting listeners away. Insert smile emoji here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ, Mark Corroto ( [20200315]