Franz Koglmann

The Use of Memory

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This live debut of Franz Koglmann's mammoth work The Use of Memory, in nine sections or movements, was heralded not by the triumph of cheers and the awe of applause, but by critical remarks from journalists with hard-line views of what jazz "is" or "isn't." Too bad. Americans have come more and more to view Euro-jazz as its own thing that has little to do with the music of origin but is no less valid, and have also accepted classical music -- including "new music" -- for decades. Apparently, those busy carving out an identity from an inferiority complex find it impossible to hear genius when it is right in front of them, bleating its heart out. The Use of Memory is a stellar achievement, and a great thank you to Hat Hut is warranted for recording this first performance. This is a suite that has all the earmarks of a symphony, or a symphony that has the emotive and improvisatory ability to be a full-blown jazz suite. But it is neither. This work so thoroughly combines jazz, "new music," and Western classical music that it is almost impossible to separate the threads. Praise the lord. Utilizing the gifts of 13 players -- including himself -- and the conducting expertise of Gustav Bauer, Koglmann realized a dream. He created with his Pipetet -- a group that also includes pianos and electric guitars as well as reeds and woodwinds -- a place where music becomes nothing other than itself. It becomes what it recalls as being true from its origins and moves on, picking up along the way other memories as passengers, weaving them into its fabric. Koglmann has his players and audiences moving through everything from Berg to Ellington, Stravinsky, Miles, Gil Evans, George Russell, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Mahler, Webern, Armstrong, Basie, Beiderbecke, Coltrane, Cowell, Cage, and even Wagner -- and so many more you would have to hear it a thousand times to note them all. This is a love song, ultimately, a swinging yet meditative and tender amorous paean to not only Koglmann's heroes, but to his dream of a music that contains no genres -- only beauty. And on this recording, he's gone further than any of his predecessors to making it a reality.

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