Axel Dörner


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As of the turn of the century, German trumpeter Axel Dörner, along with Greg Kelley and Rajesh Mehta, was at the extreme forefront of integrating the trumpet into post-AMM improvisation, extending its techniques far beyond what was imagined by even the wildest experimenters of the previous generation. Dörner played in a wide variety of circumstances, ranging from the relatively "straight" avant-garde of Sven-Ake Johansson to the fringes of quiet improv in his trio with John Butcher and Xavier Charles. One of the salient aspects of his music is his willingness to devote extended periods of time to the minute examination of seemingly narrow sonic areas, unearthing an enormous amount of riches therein. This recording includes two lengthy improvisations, each concerned with a certain facet of the trumpet's sound capabilities. The first uses as its basis an airy roar that, while sounding entirely unlike a pure trumpet tone, retains a certain brassy quality. On top and around this element, Dörner weaves lower, gurgling sounds as well as eerie highly pitched ones, all of which are subtly manipulated and varied. This expanded linear approach gives one the mental picture of a complex length of yarn, with multiple colors and shapes twisting unpredictably around a solid center; it's endlessly fascinating. Oddly, the track ends with four minutes of absolute silence, presumably meant to give the listener another sort of "background" against which to measure the preceding sonic assault. It also serves as a bridge to the second piece, which uses short periods of silence interspersed throughout. While the majority of sounds are again breath-like, they are clustered into discreet chunks, giving the work an odd, almost conversational sense, as though an argued point is being bantered back and forth. This very new approach to trumpet playing will necessarily be difficult for many listeners to wrap their ears around but, once immersed, it's music as inspired as the best around. Lester Bowie would be nodding in appreciation. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 25:00
2 17:23
blue highlight denotes track pick