Gunter Hampel

Time Is Now

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Time Is Now was recorded live at the Eldena Jazz Festival in 1992. The band was comprised of Hampel on bass clarinet, flute, vibraphone, and of course, his voice. Guitarist Mike Dietz, bassist Jurgen Attig, and drummer Heinrich Kobberling accompanied him. The work, Time Is Now, is actually a collaborative dance project for dancer Shaun Vargas and the work was taped for NDR Television and radio. Hampel is a solid improviser and a decent composer, but there is nothing here that is extraordinary -- nothing here to constitute it being an event. Musically some amazing stuff happens; for one, guitarist Mike Dietz is a well-kept secret, he blows with the dexterity of a saxophonist but can vamp and comp like an agile, in-the-pocket pianist with as many shapes and colors without the plethora of effects most six-string slingers use. Hampel's compositions here follow a patter in that there is a wildly dissonant intro followed by a passage where themes and variations are stat, with the exception of a few scalar figures thrown in to cue the dancer on direction and dynamic. The most beautiful thing here is "Serenade for Marion Brown"; Hampel introduces his piece with spare figures on the vibraphone and is followed by Dietz and then the rhythm section. After nearly two minutes of this, the band finally comes together and creates a seamless, deeply textured soundscape that evokes the kind of solos Brown himself used to play, moving ever more into unknown territory, but with vibrancy and subtlety. When Hampel moves to the flute and the band begins to ease into an eerie blues, the entire work becomes a series of shifting shapes, tonalities, and colors, all of them ingrained with deep emotion. While the record is worth its price for this alone, there isn't a weak link. Hampel has made a few better records than this, but then, he's made worse ones too.

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