Peter Brötzmann's art, album titles, and general public image suggest that his albums are constant barrages of blare and skronk, but there are many moments of sensitivity and subtle instrumental interplay throughout his discography. This disc combines both sides of the man -- it's a 2005 live performance with second horn Joe McPhee, bassist Kent Kessler, and drummer Michael Zerang. This is the second release by this quartet, following 2004's Tales Out of Time and coming before 2009's two-CD The Damage Is Done. While the group is capable of Ayler-esque blare, the two horn players (McPhee switches back and forth between saxophones and trumpet or cornet) can also bring things down quite a bit, murmuring introspective phrases with the rhythm section at rest. This happens during each of the two long pieces that make up Guts, and it helps give the listener's ears a momentary break, but also builds tension for when the full ensemble comes back. Brötzmann and his compatriots have been at this for long enough that dynamics and other dramatic effects are important tools in their arsenal, and this live set ebbs and flows in a fascinating way. Also worthy of note: its dedication to sound engineer Malachi Ritscher, who recorded it and, a year later, set himself on fire protesting the war in Iraq.
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AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman