Thomas Borgmann

Stalker Songs

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Thomas Borgmann's trio, with the late Denis Charles on drums and Wilbur Morris on bass, was a formidable unit. They were capable of bringing together both side of the jazz avant-garde (the fiery, wildly dissonant, and intense side with the space exploring, multi-textured, microtonally conscious side) effortlessly, and often within the same composition. This is no mean feat for a trio. When saxophone wailing Wotan Peter Brötzmann was added to the equation for this impromptu date, it would seem that the scales tip decidedly in favor of one side. Not so. The two tracks here and both spontaneous improvisations recorded in one day (the band played two half hour sets, had a two hour rest, and played two more). The tracks included are the first half-hour from each set. Here both saxophonists placed themselves solidly in front of one another and instinctually ask to be led by the rhythm section. Anyone who is familiar with Charles and Morris knows the power they are capable of summoning on a moments notice. Given how much younger Borgmann is than the rest of this group, it is stunning to hear how well he holds his own and even thrives in this setting. There is no intimidation factor; he and Brötzmann move through each other like big immutable spirits, coloring the air with scalar inventions, tonal scrambles, and honking and squealing in rhythm. The rhythm section has no trouble with cracking the whip on both men. Charles and Morris make an offering to the realms of texture, consistency, and spatial exploration all around the pair. When it's all over, the listener is exhausted, having been taken to many places and through many changes in harmonic dimension and a palette of colors so rich and deep, it's a wonder they don't all run together. And since this is the last session that Denis Charles played on -- he died at age 64 after touring with this band for a month -- it is a fitting send off for an artist of his stature.

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