Borah Bergman

Ride Into the Blue

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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

You already know by who is involved here that this plate is gonna be gone, don't ya? And you're right, but misjudging the proverbial blowhard free jazz mantra just a bit. There are six tunes here, supposedly four of them created on the spot, with one each by Borah Bergman and Thomas Borgmann. But it feels as if everything here was rehearsed and piloted into the stratosphere -- and yes, that is a good thing. Hearing the titanium lungs of Peter Brötzmann playing a restrained and loping alto saxophone to Borgmann's shredding tenor and lilting sopranino is something akin to pure atonal joy. When driven and underscored by the elliptical harmonic languages of pianist Bergman, the noise this trio makes becomes full of spaces and lush dynamics that make you rub your eyes and look at the record sleeve again. One good listen to "Tomorrow Is No Question" should be enough to convince anybody that free jazz is more that gutting the horns and slashing the strings. These spaces are majestic and haunting at once; they whisper in minor and diminished sixths and drop the entire family of demons down with shrill legato squawks and shrieks in the very next moment but, like a Hitchcock film, you know it's coming. There are also moments of true exploration here, such as on "Surfing the Blues," when Bergman ushers an invitation for both horn players to engage in a lively session of overtonal interplay with his piano and with each other. The tempos change and the dynamics shift more subtly because of the intensity of the piece. But the grandest thing here, and by far the most creative collectively, is the improvisation "Stranger in the City," which lasts for nearly half an hour. No one has ever heard Brötzmann play with such alchemical liquidity and economy of lyrical language, no matter how frayed the piece gets in sections. The tinge of silence is always present in Bergman's right hand, playing ghostly in the middle registers with elegance and restraint as Borgmann intones chromatically on the sopranino and then plays with it in the context of the feeling of strangeness and alienation. It's breathtaking. What an album!

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