German saxophone behemoth Peter Brotzmann had always had great success with mid-size ensembles, from his protean Machine Gun octet in 1968 to the Chicago Tentet of the late '90s. His Marz Combo seems to have been a one-shot venture that only scratched the surface of its potential. An all-star cast to be sure, the band had a bit of a rockish tinge with his son Caspar and Nicky Skopelitis aboard on guitars (the latter a veteran of countless Bill Laswell productions) and Golden Palominos founder Anton Fier on drums. But, as in Last Exit, that rock energy is harnessed in the service of a greater strength -- inspired free improvisation on rough-hewn structures. The music begins quietly enough with a moody dialogue between Brotzmann on bass clarinet and bassist William Parker, but this is not a group that was going to remain docile for long. Inevitably, matters soon reach a blistering intensity, the leader's loose compositional sketch barely containing the musicians. The brief "Part 2" appears to have been intended as a respite from the onslaught but it doesn't hold and the band surges into the final section with guns ablaze. Somewhat humorously, there's a brief moment where Kondo's electronically enhanced trumpet in tandem with the guitars evokes Miles Davis from his Agharta period. But overall, the Marz Combo is about no-holds-barred, soul-baring improvisation of the type long championed by Brotzmann, and, by and large, it succeeds often enough to make one wish that the group had been longer lived. Recommended.
AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick