Bergisch-Brandenburgisches Quartett

Bergisch-Brandenburgisches Quartett

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Bergisch-Brandenburgisches Quartett Review

by Eugene Chadbourne

This quartet represents a particular high watermark in German free jazz. There is only one East German player in the group, but somehow this group was a known as a kind of symbol of cooperation and interaction between the two Germanies. Perhaps the presence of drummer Sven-Ake Johansson helped balance out the odds, since he was based out of Berlin and had a foot on both sides of the wall. No question that this group practiced the kind of delicate diplomacy hinted at in its hard-to-pronounce name. The band traveled quite far for a group playing the kind of music it did in that era, even making it to the United States, putting reed player Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky in a unique position as one of the few East German musicians to perform in the U.S.A. This album is a well-done document of the interaction among these particular individuals, who made this such a unique and versatile free jazz band. Lots of musical interests often equals lots of interesting music. There are moments that lean toward out and out harsh attacks -- fierce and noisy and chaotic scrambles. Then there are the more complex textures favored by the superb guitarist Hans Reichel, who was so poverty-stricken during the group's American tour that he actually tried to sell one of his bizarre, trademark guitars at a neighborhood music store in North Carolina, but that's another story. The barrelhouse humor of Johansson and sometimes classical touches from saxophonist and accordion player Rüdiger Carl provide framing and vibrant content in the pieces.

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