Bertrand Denzler / Norbert Pfammatter

Nanocluster: 02/2000

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It is rare that the simple saxophone and drums duo has something new to say. That this one does makes this refreshing recording from free improvisational whiz and tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler and his partner, Norbert Pfammatter, something special. Newness by itself does not imply quality; fortunately, this partnership revels in a substantive, freewheeling, though thoughtful, approach that never lets go. Denzler has his own sound, one that is almost a blend of Steve Lacy-like chirps viewed through the lens of a Coleman Hawkins. Denzler is capable of Hawk's big tone, but he applies it strictly within a postmodern aesthetic. He also varies his attack and his lines; he can at one moment blow hard and vigorously, and at the next hold a thought for several bars. This is not light fare: Denzler and Pfammatter hit hard, low, and aggressively, and do it often. In neither instance, though, will their playing be confused with the power performances of Peter Brotzmann or Charles Gayle. There are plenty of subtle moments to be found here, too. Stripped of extraneous rhythm, Denzler appears to have found his mark, and this well-recorded gem, recorded live at a Swiss jazz festival, evidences the workings of a considerable talent. Kudos to Pfammatter, too, for brilliant accompaniment and fascinating exchanges.

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