Martin Schütz

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Approximations Review

by Thom Jurek

This collaboration between cellist Martin Schütz and reedman Hans Koch is actually a signature date that features a handful of collaborators from New York, where it was recorded. Also in attendance are Butch Morris, the late Tom Cora, vocalist Shelley Hirsch, violinist Jason Hwang, and drummers Andrew Cyrille and Pippin Barnet. Also, Schütz plays a five-string electrified cello. The 14 selections here were culled from three day-long sessions. Completely free music, the participants went by rules established from the country of no rules. Smaller groups of this ensemble participated on all tracks; there isn't a large ensemble piece on the record. Most successful are the Koch/Schütz/Cyrille pieces, since the two collaborators have worked together far more often. But the pieces that feature both Butch Morris and Andrew Cyrille are very fine in that they are more texturally complex and architecturally spacious in tonal considerations and timbral variation studies; there is a break from the cacophony. But that doesn't mean that the rest of the tracks here are without merit. In fact, none of them are throwaways; all of them are not only listenable, but also compelling and often funny, especially on the four contributions by Hirsch, who is a scream. For those seasoned free improv listeners, this is a record that holds many surprises, and listeners will follow their own dictates of what is more or less to their liking. For those uninitiated, this is a fairly accessible place to start, and the liner notes provide you with other essential examples. Great fun.

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