Sunday, October 14, 2007

october 07 braxtothon... day one (second interlude)

gunter hampel: the 8th of july 1969

restructures link

the day took a while to get going, the "week" isn't even a full week to begin with as it turns out... and with the writing up and faffing around (more of the latter really) it suddenly occurs to me late on that i am not now going to have time to fit in a third session... the kitchen still requires transformation, lest mrs cent return to a shambles... so i settled on a compromise, pulled out one of several very interesting sideman gigs from '69 and played it while clearing up, knowing that i could not give the music my undivided loving care this time, but that b's contributions were nevertheless likely to grab my attention even if nothing else did.

and that's the way it worked out... between spacing out and thinking about the new blog, marshalling impressions, tidying up etc i managed to miss at least half of what was being played, but my man's statements certainly did not go unnoticed..! i made no notes at all this time so memories of the first track are pretty blurred already, vague impressions of the leader's piano and jeanne lee's voice (i can sort of make an exception for jeanne lee, don't mind some of her stuff as it's usually pretty far out), but the real business gets underway with the long second track, which contains two superb braxton solos as well as a furious, barking bass clarinet excursion by (i presume) willem breuker. what's really noticeable right away about braxton's work here is how utterly complete it sounds: his identity as a soloist is now fully formed (not sure that it was before... but of course i still haven't heard for alto), the sound identical to that which i know so well after all these hours i've heard him play. the solos here could be from any year really, so sure of himself does he sound by now.

this is also the first time i clearly noticed the "master-tag", a very fast descending run with a staccato attack, followed by a short upward swoop and concluding with a two-note "bee-boop" drop, a higher note to a lower one at the end, this being the phrase which he seems to repeat most often over the years... recently i heard "intuition" by tristano & co wherein warne marsh plays something rather similar, leading me to infer that this birdlike "signature" of braxton's may have originated with marsh... anyway, i expect it's present in nascent form on the earlier recordings but this is the first time i've "spotted" it clearly.

the third piece ("crepuscule") is fascinating, beginning with a lot of low clarinet blowing - i presume this is hampel and breuker on bass, braxton on contrabass - and exploring quiet, breathy textures for much of its 25-min running time... at one point the reeds give way to a mesmerising percussion solo by steve mccall, in which he seems to do little other than brush the surfaces of his kit but in a manner bespeaking almost superhuman control and restraint; this in turn gives way subtly to more breath from the clarinets. there is an explosion of vibes from the leader later on, duetting with mccall now, but the breath explorations are what i will remember most from this. again, there is a very gnarly, rough-hewn and powerful solo by someone other than braxton and again i have to assume it's breuker playing it: would the leader really have been so little ego-driven that he's prepared to let his frontline guests steal all the limelight? (well... seems quite possible actually, and here's why: out of all of them, hampel was the one who was actually going home with jeanne lee after the session - perhaps he felt that this left him with nothing to prove to the other guys! and perhaps one could sympathise...)

ok, enough is enough, this is only an interlude... and as you can tell i was distracted for much of the playing time, so no grading but this is a very interesting recording and the third piece especially will warrant closer inspection at some point.

bring on day two :)


centrifuge said...

centrifuge said...


the story of a "near miss" with synchronicity:

anyone who can actually sit through the review will have no trouble seeing why i chose the picture... as soon as i started thinking about which one to use, this jumped straight into my mind's eye. but i was only when i saw them together on the page at "edit" stage, the photo above the text, that i remembered the date of the photo: 9th july 2003

close but no cigar as they say :)

i tried to cheat... there was a halfdecent cloud shot from the 8th (at nearly the same location) but it just wasn't right

so, rather than bend the facts to fit the model... as always in these cases henceforth, i prefer to go with the imperfect version :-D

nb: 8th july 2007 - b's first "historic meeting" (copyright j. n£lson) with c.t.

Anonymous said...

oh well, cleaning up isn't probably the best thing i could think of when listening to this hampel. still remember the hard time i had going through this - especially with jeanne lee. it was sometime in the mid-90s, and i wasn't ready for anything off-kilter like that - but hampel is still my man, seen him a couple of times, what a great chap!!

dunno how many times breuker + braxton shared one stage, but their approach don't seem to fit - in the long run. same thing for mengelberg and breuker. about mengelberg (am i shifting???) - recently found some old radio stuff of him on michiel de ruyter's stite, including stuff misha did with eric dolphy during his last tour. all is in dutch here, but the music on the few low-bitrate files are international ;)

everything tidy, cent?

centrifuge said...

hey man that was a few days ago now, things have had plenty of time to untidy themselves since then ;-)

i love misha

that blindfold test they did with him is a laugh a minute (seen that?)

Anonymous said...

funny you mention it - yes, i've made that test myself some time ago - AND, right now i'm uploading misha's debut, and in the post there's already the link to this test (among others). coincidences occur. so it goes.

about dirt: call steve martin for a cleaning woman. :)

martini said...

I just spun Hampel's "July" for the first time in awhile yesterday, and it gets better every time I hear it. It was a great period for Hampel/Breuker/Braxton, and hearing them together is fantastic. "Morning Song" and "Crepuscule" feature lovely, inspired playing by Breuker and Braxton. That alone makes this one worth adding the collection.

centrifuge said...

martini, thanks for your comment. yes, i might well dig this one out again myself... i want to hear that percussion solo again! not to mention the horns of course :)