Peter Brötzmann

Born Broke

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Born Broke is a double-disc duet recording between saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and drummer Peeter Uuskyla. It is a delightful surprise. Those who are used to the incredible fire-breathing blasts of Brötzmann's saxophone, taking on all comers with its fire and velocity, will be quite literally astonished at the range of dynamics here. This pair has been playing together in different contexts for more than ten years. There is a very distinct kind of communication going on here that takes its time in developing, and it's due to the intuitive drumming of Uuskyla. He regularly employs circular rhythms, standard blues forms, and military march patterns in his methodology; and what you have is much more than the sum of a free jazz pairing. As a result, Brötzmann is allowed a wider emotional and tonal palette to work with. The evidence is in the opening title track on disc one, which begins with a repetitive drum pattern on snare, floor tom, and bass drum. The listener is already hooked into the rhythmic structure before Brötzmann enters, and when he does, he flows into the stream of rhythm and adds his own very moving, songlike voice on the tenor (not something usually associated with his playing) and unhurriedly goes through a series of twists, turns, and long and short statements from fast and furious to slow and deliberate, which come out on the other side with his clarinet. The freer playing on "Beautiful But Stupid" reveals that all of the intensity is still there -- all of the bleating aggressiveness -- but even here thanks to Uuskyla that intense soloing moves along a path and finds ways through it that are not in a straight line, not even in a curved one, but in a series of angles, turnarounds, and multiphonic statements that push the horn all the same. On the final cut on disc one, "Ain't Got the Money," Brötzmann channels the big warm tenor sound of Booker Ervin for a moment before moving into Albert Ayler's "folk music" territory and heading off for parts unknown. Uuskyla leads as much as follows; he shoots quick ideas inside his own ever-embellished rhythmic frames to offer a place for the saxophonist to explore. That he doesn't take a furious flailing approach to improvisation on his kit is such a plus that it can't be overstated. He doesn't lack the power or aggression to hang with the tenor player, but that sense of flow and dynamic is such an important part of the dialogue that he tends to move toward a kind of structural architecture that builds, dissembles, and builds higher. The second disc is one long improvisation, called "Dead and Useless," that lasts almost 40 minutes. It is an utterly astonishing display of energy, creativity, and overall rigor; it will have one exhausted but utterly fulfilled. Highly recommended. Thanks to the continued vision and dedication of the Atavistic imprint, listeners have this music readily available in America.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 38:24 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick