Great Sakata Trio:
Siren, Sticks & Circus

(EUPH 071)

Akira Sakata - alto saxophone
Oliver Schwerdt - grand piano, percussion, little instruments
Christian Lillinger - drums, cymbals, percussion

01 Siren, Sticks & Circus (16’07)


Now the continued work within the legendary instrumental constellation of saxophone, piano and drums leads Oliver Schwerdt and Christian Lillinger to a paradisian meeting with Akira Sakata. The alto play of the Japanese superstar is challenging with the windy, slim and furious breath of Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky. Listen to Sakatas ultimate siren, Lillingers polytactic sticks and all of the infinite adventures spilled out of Schwerdts grand piano toy circus.

Dass Oliver Schwerdt früher oder später nach seinen mit Luten und Brötzmann unternommenen Ereiferungen um das Erbe von Alexander von Schlippenbach und Fred van Hove mit Akira Sakata Yosuke Yamashita hinterherlaufen würde, hätte aufmerksamen Beobachtern schon früh auffallen können. Wie immer ist es das Trio-Spiel, indem es der Dyade L i l l i s c h w e r d t gelingt, ganz besonders intensiv im Sturm zu stieben. Der Sud der fein austarierten Rhythmus-Klang-Komplexe zelebriert mit den quirligen Girlanden des Altisten einen schwebend-bissigen Zirkus voll der modernen Lust am hochfrequenten Schlagabtausch. Auditiv etablierte Maschinen, Gebläse, Getriebe, Panzer, Raketen oder auch ein humanoider Schrei: in jedem Fall gestattet ein hochengagiertes Organon den Schneid einer postmodern, noch akustisch verfertigenden Maschinenästhetik einwickelnden Improvisationskunst vorzuführen. Im euphorischen Spektakel dieser wie so oft in ihrer ungestümen Ursprünglichkeit gefasster Begegnungsarbeit trifft jede Figur ihre ästhetische Idealform ziemlich genau: Sakatas Sirene, Lillis Sticks und Schwerdts Zirkus.

Format: Mini-CD
Price: 14,99 €
ISBN: 978-3-944301-60-0
Digital download:



The recordings for Oliver Schwerdt’s projects with Christian Lillinger and the double basses are almost always made at live concerts in Leipzig’s Club naTo. Before the main act, the quintet itself, there is often a trio in which the two basses are left out. That’s how Schwerdt had handled it with the New Old Luten Quintet as well as with Big Bad Brötzmann, and this was also the sequence he chose for the Great Sakata project.
Now, of course, a bass-less trio with Akira Sakata always evokes memories of the legendary Yosuke Yamashita Trio (the second outfit with Sakata on alto), a group that played with the utmost collective energy, ejecting its music volcano-like and transforming it into incandescent lava flows, as the German journalist Bert Noglik put it. But while Yamashita’s playing was always rooted in Japanese traditions, Schwerdt’s is infused with European classical and new music. So here Sakata’s total expenditure of energy, his roaring and writhing, collide with Schwerdt’s sometimes brutal, teutonic force and Lillinger’s postmodern mix of styles, that he can call up within a millisecond.
Schwerdt himself was simply thrilled after the concert because Sakata’s slender alto reminded him a lot of Luten Petrowsky. That said, there are indeed several highlights in this short, 16-minute performance, e.g. when after five minutes Sakata’s lightning-like runs meet Schwerdt’s powerful clusters in the lower registers, while Lillinger remains subtly and calmly in the background. Or the immediately following passage, which comes across like an ultra-sombre ballad.
In general, the set lives from a contrast between high speed and delicacy, prolixity and condensation. Towards the end there’s a passage with bells and whistling, with which the listeners are led astray, because you think you have arrived at the end of the piece. However, the trio starts all over and the tempo is increased tremendously again. The ending comes relatively abrupt. Simply perfect.
Siren, Sticks & Circus is available as a mini-CD. You can get it from Oliver Schwerdt directly or from the label’s bandcamp site.
THE FREE JAZZ COLLECTIVE, Martin Schray ( [20231013]).