Peter Brötzmann Trio / Peter Brötzmann

For Adolphe Sax

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AllMusic Review by William York

German tenor saxophonist Peter Brötzmann's first album is the one that started all: a long career that would spawn many, many more recordings in the years to come. Recorded with the rhythm section of bassist Peter Kowald and drummer Sven-Ake Johansson, this is intense, unrelenting free jazz with little in the way of clear structure or melody. Brötzmann is credited with all three compositions on the album, but it is hard to imagine them being much more than very rough sketches. Whatever the case, this is music that gets by on force and pure energy rather than polite tunes or other musical decorum. Apart from a few brief moments of quiet during "Sanity," the second track, this stuff just doesn't quit, with Brötzmann's consistently abrasive, high-pitched wailing leading the charge and the other two members stirring up a pretty good ruckus themselves (Kowald, especially, gets in a good string-sawing bass solo on "Morning Glory"). Critics of Brötzmann who pigeonhole him as a mere one-note screamer will find their opinions somewhat vindicated by this album, but still, they'd only be on target if he continued making this exact kind of music. Fortunately, he did evolve in the years to come, with his tone becoming fuller and his playing finding more room for melody and dynamics. Compare this to the more spacious Little Birds Have Fast Hearts albums he made with his group Die Like a Dog in the late '90s, and the difference is clear. That's not to diminish his playing on this album or from this period, though, because it has a crazed stubbornness to it that's compelling in spite of its limitations. It may compel some to simply turn off the stereo, but the fact that this music is likely to provoke such intense reactions (pro or con) more than 35 years after its release is remarkable on its own. [Some reissues add a very worthy ten-minute live bonus track, "Everything," recorded months after the album's release, with pianist Fred Van Hove added to the trio.]

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