You are standing in the middle of an intersection, in a not-so-recommendable district of a crowded city. The night is deep and cold. Fog rises out of manholes. Behind you is a drummer, hitting his drums softly, scraping his cymbals, waltzing through evanescent, elusive rhythms. In front of you, each standing on opposite corners are two bass players, so fully immersed into their playing they haven't noticed you. The language they talk fills the air with constant vibrations. Somewhere dead ahead, hidden by a bend in the alley, you hear a trumpet. Its short melodic lines echo on the concrete walls. These four musicians sound like they are playing together, but then again, maybe they are not. This description transcribes exactly the atmosphere reigning on Berlin Abbozzi, especially on the title track's first part. It should be the soundtrack for an avant-garde film noir. The echo in Bill Dixon's trumpet sounds very natural, even though during the first minute of the second part it becomes obvious it is obtained digitally. This second part is also a little bit more intense, even maniacal at times. But overall the atmosphere on this album is of late-night dark streets, evoking Miles Davis' music for Ascenseur pour l'Échafaud, very different from the two volumes of Vade Mecum Dixon recorded in 1993 with a similar lineup -- trumpet, two double basses, and drums. The title track, composed by the trumpeter (although his work seemed to be confined to defining textures and dynamics), totals 62 minutes. The set is completed by a freely improvised encore following the same guidelines. By then, some listeners might have gotten tired of the echo effect, but surely not of Tony Oxley's feather-touch playing or Matthias Bauer's and Klaus Koch's blurry basslines. Magnificent, very unique, and strongly recommended.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture