Willem Breuker Kollektief

Live in Berlin

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Recorded about a month after their BASF release The European Scene, Live in Berlin is almost as fine an example of their earliest roots. The basic elements are all here, from the shameless purloining of themes from all conceivable genres (especially those not normally associated with the avant-garde) and their conflation with free jazz soloing to the revitalization of schmaltzy pop standards. There's still a certain roughness to the arrangements and performance, but Breuker's determination to set himself apart from the European free jazz scene as represented by the work of musicians with whom he collaborated early on, like Peter Brötzmann and Evan Parker, is very clear. As they and others moved more and more into abstract and non-idiomatic improvisation, Breuker attempted to balance those ideas with a structure that relied on song forms (especially those of composers like Kurt Weill) and the more classically influenced compositions of musicians like Carla Bley. He also insisted on the injection of large doses of humor, an anathema to most of his contemporaries. The Kollektief's spirited rendition of "Our Day Will Come" shows how successful this approach can be, and the album as a whole makes a good case for Breuker's stance. There is a somewhat muted recording quality here and, of the two earliest examples of this band, one would have to give the nod to the BASF release for musical and audio quality, but both are essential to a full understanding of Breuker's music.

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