Günter Heinz

Live in Wuppertal

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A duo of trombone and drums may be an unlikely combination for a popular live concert, but judging from the exuberant audience response captured on this recording, it has the potential for broad appeal. (Actually, the talented guitarist Peter Worringer makes this a trio on a few tracks.) Günter Heinz has built a small reputation as an innovative trombonist, his unique style incorporating little sounds, mutes, growls, and pinched tones. For this one, he adds a flute and something called a "zurna" (sounding somewhat like a soprano saxophone), but what makes this recording so interesting is Heinz's ability to fly in the face of convention with jagged rhythms and unorthodox technique. On the opening "Danger on the Stairs," for example, he repeats a note several times with purposefully unfocused attack, leading to a light rumbling simulating the sounds of the jungle. His partner, the highly sought-after American drummer Lou Grassi, solidly complements the trombonist with riveted percussion that enlarges the total sound. Grassi, who seems to have performed with just about every free improviser of note, is a splendid accompanist who brings out the best in others, but he also is a fine soloist as well, who can muster sparklingly effervescent efforts at the drop of a hat. Together, Heinz and Grassi produce eight tracks that are full of surprises (even more so when the guitar is added) and a touch of humor, and devoid of cliché.

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