Groundbreaking is a word that should be used very carefully. But there is no doubt that it applies to Franz Hautzinger's CD Gomberg. The Viennese trumpeter hadn't released any material on record for three years before unleashing this album. Gomberg, a collection of quarter-tone trumpet solos, is a radical step forward and redefines the language of the trumpet as of any instrumental soloing. The distinction between tonal and atonal is rendered irrelevant, as Hautzinger eludes scale and harmony. Not a single pure note is heard. The trumpeter works with his breathing, blowing air in the instrument or directly into the microphone, talking into the trumpet, playing with the valves, using some microphone effects. Of course, these elements had been used before, but never had a trumpeter gone this far in exploring the elementary elements of the instrument. The performance is recorded with volume levels set very high in order to catch every sound produced. Consequently, street sounds and ambient noises found their way onto the recording, but they are not too intrusive, except for the last piece "Ticket to India" and the middle part of "NY.W." where a police siren interrupts the musician. An unsuspecting listener would have a hard time believing "Concert for Christina" is a trumpet piece as it is essentially made of breathing sounds modified by a flanger effect, bringing the piece very close to musique concrète. With its percussive valve work, "NY.W." is the other highlight of the album. Also very stripped down, this piece gives the illusion of kaleidoscopic droplets. Franz Hautzinger's fascinating music must be listened to attentively and in a silent room (or even better through headphones) in order to fully experience its richness. The booklet includes a very interesting (although plagued by misspellings) 20-page essay by the legendary free jazz trumpeter Bill Dixon.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture