I promised you yesterday that the 7th edition of the Krakow Autumn Jazz festival would start with a bang and there was no doubt about it. Every time you see Peter Brotzmann on stage it means loud things will happen.
Brotzmann, age 71 and counting, presented Krakow's audience with his new project, in a company of a young trio whose name suggests a match made in heaven (or in hell, given that one of his nicknames is Behemoth of saxophone). And the Defibrillator sure hits it hard and heavy with the wise master from the very beginning - the gritty, distorted electronic feedback noises, the metal sort of heavy drumming, the psychodelic fuzzy trombone.
What I always loved about Brotzmann's presence on stage is the fact that his powerfull, distorted even brutal sound seemed to me always a maniftestation of some kind of primal, natural force. While it would be hard to call his way of playing emotional, nevertheless I always found his heavily vibrated sound filled with emotional substance that strikes somehow the essence of being in the moment.
As much as I admire his will to search for new paths and idea of challenging himself with an unusal sound enviroment I was hard put to find a correspondence between the primal nature of the sax's timbre and sci-fi, high-tech electronic wall of sounds. Which surprised me becasue I had expected that the noise, grind-core roots of the trio's sound would be a perfect fit for Brotzmann, instead I found it quite hermetic, out of sync with the emotional substance of the leader's music. In fact I preferred the group when the trio played without the Brotzmann's assistance, moments in which the overall sound's vision, dark and psychodelic, became much more cohesive.
That all being said, during the lenghty 1-hour continous performance, there were passages of dynamic interplay where the band created some real sparks. Like the thunderous drumming against the gritty tenor cries, intriguing distortions along the circular tarogato lines and last but not least the atmospheric encore where Brotzmann's deeply lyrical tenor was on full display, surrounded by the mysterious array of electronic clicks and ticks and subtly resonating plates. Which was the moment I clearly heard the soul in the machine.
As you take my account into consideration keep in my mind my unfairly high expectations. I'd say the music was highly intriguing but didn't entirely convince me.
What is more important, my dear readers, is that I can officially announce: 7th Krakow Autumn Jazz has begun and we're all in for a plenty of musical excitement! And it all started with a bang, as promised.
Peter Brotzmann - alto, tenor, tarogato
Sebastian Smolyn - electronic trombone
Artur Smolyn - electronics
Oliver Steidle - drums
7th Krakow Autumn Jazz
Alchemia. Krakow. 03.10.2012