Konrad Bauer

Three Wheels - Four Directions

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Recorded (and released) one year after Konrad Bauer's Disques Victo debut Toronto Töne, a solo-trombone-with-electronics affair, Three Wheels: Four Directions features his favorite trio at the time. Bauer, bassist Peter Kowald, and drummer Günter Sommer each have a solo spot interspersed between the four trio improvisations. Unlike the trombonist's previous album, this set is acoustic only. Bauer's music (and his trombonist brother Johannes) always tends to be self-ironic, or at least incorporate an element of fun verging on the circus -- not an easy shtick, and more like an unavoidable festive spirit. It is much at work here, in "Trio Goes North" and "Trio Goes East," in Bauer and Sommer's solos "Connie Goes West" and "Baby Goes South." Only Kowald, with his Tibetan-like chanting and drone arco playing, provides 10 minutes of more introspective music. Otherwise, Three Wheels: Four Directions is all about experimentation and entertainment. The rhythm section is exemplary, with bassist and drummer playing off each other, teasing one another, and alluding easy grooves. Bauer stirs the improvisations into strange directions: not jazz, not blues, not British radical improv, but not quite the extroverted in-your-face German kind either. The leader's solo, all circular breathing, is by itself stronger than most of the material on Toronto Töne. Yet, this CD doesn't reach the same level of improv bliss as the Bauer brothers' quartet DoppelMoppel's Victo release Aventure Québécoise. But that's a very different band.

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