Gregor Hotz

8 Pieces for Single Listeners & You Never Give Me Your Pillow

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Swiss reedist Gregor Hotz was 31 years old when this wild set of solo and duo pieces was recorded. As stated in the liner notes, although born two years after Anthony Braxton's seminal double album, For Alto, was issued, Hotz has spent his life in service to the development of an improvisational language for the soprano and bass saxophones and the alto clarinet. This has been showcased previously on recordings with Steve Lacy, Wolfgang Fuchs, and Hans Koch. This set, his first solo appearance as well as his first free improv date with cellist Nicholas Bussman, offers a further elucidation of not only what Hotz has learned, but a snapshot of where he is going as a soloist in the language of improvisation. On 8 Pieces for Single Listeners, Hotz uses all three horns to demonstrate a unique, and somewhat disquieting, phraseology. His reliance on the exercise form leaves out the possibility for conventional lyricism, and focuses the attention of player and listener on tonality and duration. Where Lacy and Evan Parker use interval as a method of breath control and stepping-off point, Hotz forgets all that. His interval is the extent of the single breath and all of its timbral prejudices. Scalar considerations are refused in favor of microtonal investigation, which almost always unveils its revelations slowly. No matter which horn he chooses, his command, for such a young player, is remarkably authoritative. These first eight pieces sound like practice books and should not be considered a hindrance, but a boon. Hotz goes out of his way here not to repeat himself; his tonal reaches are full and rich and, in places, despite their brevity, extravagant. On the duo pieces with Bussman -- all registered in section numbers -- Hotz is allowed a certain lyrical freedom he was unable to grant himself on the solo work. Given the cello's vast sonorities, Hotz solos like a pianist -- Herbie Nichols immediately comes to mind -- moving from arpeggio to microphonic tonal cluster to open, ringing notes, all of them played as either accents, fills, or solos. The deep atonal swing in the architecture of "Part 4" is solid evidence of the sense that Hotz has of timing and reserve; his longing for an economy doesn't keep him from freely offering his wealth of ideas, but keeps him in check, true to the music (which is more than can be said about some soprano players on the scene). This is a brilliant and daring -- if reserved and lovely -- recording by a true, original, upcoming voice on the free improv scene.

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