More March News 2001 New Releases
reviewed by Dan Warburton:
Bertrand Denzler / Norbert Pfammatter
A trip to Minecxio with Reynols
Gaudeamus Prizes in Performance, 2001
at the Bastille in Paris: Joseph K...
March Part I
Next Month

Between the Lines btl011 / EFA 10181-2
O Moon My Pin-Up
HatOLOGY 566

Franz Koglmann admits he hasn't got much time for rock'n'roll. A
quintessentially European musician, this Viennese trumpeter/composer lists
Mozart operas and Stravinsky's "Symphony in Three Movements" as formative
influences, and the tight sectionalized forms characteristic of Stravinsky
are omnipresent in "O Moon My Pin-Up", Koglmann's 1997 cantata for soloists,
choir and eight-piece band based on Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos. Though there's
some stylish blowing from the likes of reedmen Tony Coe (a frequent Koglmann
partner) and Mario Arcari, as well as the composer himself unashamedly
revealing his love of Chet Baker, this cantata - "who composes cantatas
nowadays?" asks Peter Niklas Wilson in his liner notes - belongs more in the
"contemporary" bin. More precisely, this is what was once called Third
Stream, a cunning mix of composed and improvised music (which in the early
60s managed to alienate both classical music lovers - except American college
music professors, for some reason - and jazz purists alike): Koglmann's
declared intention to "chisel out the intellectual aspect" of jazz (which has
led him in the past to make certain disparaging comments on jazz musicians)
is evident here in his extensive use of cut-ups and cross references - as
dictated by the clunky modernism of Pound's poems - and this 42-minute
cantata with its exquisite vocal writing and imaginative text-setting could
easily end up as a set work on a university syllabus somewhere, were it not
perhaps for the gutsy bellowing of Phil Minton, perfectly cast as Pound
The reissue of Koglmann's first albums, both long out-of-print limited
editions originally on the Pipe label - "Flaps" dates from 1973, and
"Opium/For Franz" from 1976 - provides an interesting comparison. Koglmann's
alert and responsive playing (he's joined amongst others by three titans:
Bill Dixon, Alan Silva and Steve Lacy) still sounds remarkably fresh, despite
the boomy recording (BTL had to remaster from LPs, the original tapes being
lost, but surely they could have made a better job of it?). Gerd Geier's
electronics on "Bowery", admittedly primitive by today's standards, sound
delightfully wacky (Lacy especially has no difficulty doodling along with the
volleys of bleeps and bips), Silva's bass work on Bill Dixon's "For Franz" is
mind-blowing, and the contributions of Dixon himself and frequent
collaborator Steve Horenstein on tenor are as fresh and challenging today as
they were a quartet of a century ago. Will we be able to say the same for "O
Moon My Pin-Up" in 2022? Wait and see.

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NanoCLUSTER 02/2000
Bertrand Denzler / Norbert Pfammatter

There's something reassuring - which is either satisfying or frustrating,
depending on your point of view - about this duo performance from the
Neuchatel Jazz Festival featuring the Swiss duo of Bertrand Denzler (now
resident in Paris) on tenor and Norbert Pfammatter on drums. Pfammatter, like
Denzler's other frequent percussion partner Christophe Marguet (in the group
49° Nord with Hasse Poulsen on guitar) is no flashy showman, and
Denzler only gives us occasional tantalizing glimpses of a veritable arsenal
of extended techniques (all grounded by the way in solid jazz chops -
Bertrand's been playing with Sunny Murray recently), but both musicians are
very good indeed at building up long spans of music through the accretion of
tiny elements. Like coral. For all its accomplishment though (and I find this
album more coherent and musically richer than its predecessor "Y" on Leo,
despite its smaller forces), this music seems to accept rather than question
its existence - neither musician (nor the listener) is ever brought up with a
shock; it seems they're quite happy to go on coral building. If gazing at the
Great Barrier Reef is your trip, this is for you; personally I prefer one or
two ecological disasters and the occasional noisy motor boat to stir up the

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Freedom From

OK. Everybody knows by now that Reynols is a trio of Argentinean nutters
led by Down's Syndrome-afflicted drummer/vocalist Miguel Tomasin (their name
was chosen randomly by a chihuahua walking on a TV remote control unit: Burt
Reynolds appeared on the screen - one wonders what became of that penultimate
"d"..), whose releases include a "dematerialized CD" (i.e. an empty box), a
recording of 10,000 chickens in a battery farm, and an album of treated tape
hiss for Bernhard Günter's trente oiseaux label. Once nearly arrested in
Buenos Aires (on the grounds that they might reflect a negative image of
Argentina - maybe Tomasin's next move could be to change his name to Eva
Peron) for plugging their axes into pumpkins and not playing in public, the
trio caught the attention of the new music media with "Pauline Oliveros in
the Arms of Reynols", which brought them an invitation to play a seven-hour
Lincoln Center concert with Pauline herself. All of this is well-known, but
what about the music?
"Bolas Tristes" is a collection of short (except for "Permuto Hojaldre"
which clocks in at 13'25") nihilistic sound blasts recorded between 1994 and
1996 and originally released on cassette in England by Matching Head. Here
it's "remastered" (??) and housed in a lurid fluorescent orange jewel box
(the CD itself seems to have been spray-painted in the same orange and won't
play on half the machines I've tried it on, which is presumably deliberate).
The duff sound quality and uncompromisingly bleak feel of these pieces
strikes a chord with anyone brought up on No Wave and New Wave; "Viento que
sopla pajaros" sounds like early Glenn Branca on downers, and "Eco-tom" and
"Colosos del Aroma" wouldn't be out of place on a Swans bootleg. The
"Barbatrulos" album, recorded in 1997 and 1998, sounds remarkably similar:
not since Danny and the Dressmakers' "Don't Make Another Bass Guitar Mr.
Rickenbacker" has lousy drumming sounded so good. (There are no track titles,
we're told, because "they" (the band, or the titles?) "went to buy osobuco
[sic] to feed our chihuahua dog."..) "Minecxio", most of which dates from
last year, throws together answering machine messages, TV channel signature
tunes and Tomasin's banshee wailing (recorded in a steel mill from the sound
of it) over a backdrop of wailing guitars and effects-loaded drumming. It's
curiously compelling stuff, this strange mixture of early Red Crayola,
Birthday Party and Jesus and Mary Chain (at 16rpm), and I'm half-tempted to
learn Spanish just to be able to figure out what Tomasin is on about (though
I'm not sure it would help much).
Scrolling down the pages of the Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers website in
search of information about their recent Reynols release ("- - - -"), I
realize there must be hundreds, maybe thousands, of people hidden away in
garages all over the world making this kind of noise, or something like it.
Whether Reynols' undoubted knack for self-publicity makes their musical
output more worthy of attention is debatable, but in today's Britney shitney
world it's rather comforting to know these guys are out there. And out there
they certainly are.

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Blue Note

Just over ten years ago, on the first night of George Bush's Gulf War (a
vulgar firework display that achieved nothing except establish modern warfare
as CNN spectator sport), I spent a memorable evening in a tiny Paris
discotheque called Sheherezade, with music provided by DJ Gilles Peterson.
The Acid Jazz and (Peterson's own) Talkin'Loud imprints were fresh and new,
and most of that night was spent running between dance floor and DJ booth
with a scrap of paper on which I wrote the names of the (then) rare (as in
rare) grooves Gilles was spinning, which were duly sought out and became
prized possessions. Ten years on, Peterson is still a guru of the scene, and
another Bush is busy throwing bombs at Saddam. Plus ça change, you might say,
but in 2001 at least most of the groovy organ-jazz back catalogue of Blue
Note is back on the market, and enterprising entrepreneurial enthusiasts like
BN's Bob Belden have brought about an amazing sea change: this new
hipper-than-thou CD is guaranteed to sell like hot cakes to a whole
generation of Nike-wearing dudes weaned on MTV who pronounce "yeah" like
"year" and who were mere twinkles in their fathers' eyes when the
original Blue Note label went into a disco-induced coma.
The other guru responsible for reintroducing jazz (or rather, some of it)
to the younger generation in fact goes by the name of Guru (hands up who
remembers Gangstarr's "Step in the Arena"?), who, with his catchy slogan "you
gotta hear Blue Note to dig Def Jam", launched the series of Jazzmatazz
albums in the early 90s. Guru pops up on track one of this CD, as guest
rapper and remixer of Medeski Martin and Wood's "Whatever Happened to Gus",
and with him on board, we're off. Mos Def and DJ Spinna refashion Ronny
Jordan's Wes-revisited guitar into radical chic hiphop punctuated by
obligatory "yo's" and squiggly scratching; Smash has a go at "Come Together"
from Bob Belden's Beatles project and airbrushes Cassandra Wilson (we're a
looong way from her fragile, wondrous early JMT albums) into a germ-free
virtual landscape peopled by the ghosts of Lonnie Liston Smith and Wah Wah
Watson, through which we cruise at a leisurely 80 bpm on polished and
perfectly predictable hiphop beats. (This is Blue Note, remember, the label
that brought you Max Roach, Art Blakey and Elvin Jones.. at least Belden's
earlier Prince covers project featured Ricky "Tricky Sugar Foot" Wellman -
oops, forgot, that wasn't on Blue Note) Here, Greg Osby's soprano sounds as
sickly sweet as Kenny Gee (does anyone out there remember Osby's inspired
harmolodic sparring with Steve Coleman on the first Strata Institute album?),
but just when you think the whole CD is settling down into soft hiphop, here
comes drum'n'bass, with Nitin Sawhney's spotless, tabla-poppin' remix of US3
which goes absolutely nowhere except into the hard-step post-Miles (yep, it's
all there, harmon mute trumpet, soprano sax and Decoy-esque synth patches)
of Hagans' "Are You Threatening Me?" (to which the only answer is no - this
stuff is about as threatening as Jennifer Lopez). After slight returns from
Cassandra and US3 (mandatory shots-out to Latin and ragga), the
straight-ahead happy house of Todd Terry's remix of Richard Elliot comes as
welcome light relief, which manages to spill over into Smash's House Mix of
the aforementioned "Come Together". By now all that remains of "jazz" is a
fleeting collection of sampled disembodied sighs, odd splashes of Fender
Rhodes, and a spidery reverb-drenched trumpet solo. It wouldn't be at all
surprising to hear Michael Jackson pop up here, but as Jacko hasn't recorded
anything for Blue Note - yet - we get a real white (well, albino) African:
Salif Keita. Joe Claussell's mix of Salif's "Tolon Willie" is typical of the
current fad for African-pop-meets-Euro-House: perfect stuff for cruising down
the expressway to the nearest hypermarket, but what will the folks back in
Africa make of it? After another dose of Ronny (I would have preferred
Clifford) Jordan, the album fizzles out with "Rose Rouge" by St. Germain, a
canny young French lad signed to Blue Note who's built an entire career by
grafting snippets of old blues and jazz onto sleek house beats.
It's funny, but I have the distinct feeling that if George W. follows
daddy's footsteps back into the Gulf for a real spot of Saddam-bashing,
Gilles Peterson won't be around next time with his wonderful, battered old
vinyl of Funk Inc.'s "Let's Make Peace and Stop The War". And even if he does
come to town, I'll hazard a guess that most folk will be staying at home that
night watching the friendly fire on AOL Time Warner, probably listening to
this album.

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Gaudeamus Prizes in Performance

The Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition announced the 2001 prizewinners in Contemporary Performance: First Prize: Tony Arnold (1966, USA, soprano). Second Prize: Jorge Isaac (1974, Venezuela, recorder). Third Prize: Sarah Bob (1974, USA piano). The Special Prize for the best use of electronics was awarded at the end of the second round to Jorge Isaac. The other finalists were: Karin De Fleyt (1972, Belgium, flute) and Veli Kujala (1976, Finland, accordion). Our Paris Transatlantic correspondent who attended the finals in Rotterdam, would like to commend the extraordinarily moving performance of the Lutoslawski String Quartet (Poland), particularly for their stunning interpretation of the Lutoslawski Quartet, from memory.

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Kafka, at the Bastille Opera House

Premiere: Paris, March 7th, 2001: Philippe Manoury's opera "K" --based on Kafka's Trial-- opens tonight at the Bastille. We thoroughly enjoyed the show last night at the dress rehearsal: Manoury's lush music, though marred somewhat by the obligatory and totally unnecessary use of IRCAM electronics, contrasts well with the bleakness of the story. Lavish jugenstijl sets and costumes, and very short scenes, almost intercut like a film, make for an intriguing two-hour show.
Incidentally, keep an eye out for the upcoming production of Britten's Peter Grimes. We were backstage after "K", in the cavernous hangers of the opera house, and stumbled across some wrecked cars and a burnt-out camper which apparently constitute the setting for this tragic hero's demise...hmmm.

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Copyright 2001 by Paris Transatlantic