Sunday, December 18, 2005

Von Schlippenbach/Parker/Lovens - 18/12/2005, Brussels

The Archiduc is a trendy, expensive, venerable Art Nouveau bar, but it is also surprisingly often home to improvised music concerts. According to the presenter, the Alexander Von Schlippenbach Trio is the longest-running currently-active free music trio (however, he also said that the AEC disbanded after Malachi Favors's death, so what does he know), 33 years and ending a 12-concert tour in this cramped Brussels bar on a sunday afternoon.

Prior to that was a duo between Guy Strale on stuff (incl. piano, clarinet, a balloon, frame drum, a wind-up Santa Claus...) and English trombonist Gail Brand. It was low-key and enjoyable: they moved easily from soothing trombone drones + background sounds to rowdy dialogue.

I'd never really heard any of the three participants in the main act. I expected really forbidding improv, what I got was not-that-difficult and fantastic free jazz. The music, at its busiest, seemed a perfectly logical descendant of the latter years of John Coltrane's career (including the Quartet post-A Love Supreme), mixed a whole lot of Monk (both avant and straight-up; they even swung once or twice) coming from Von Schlippenbach. Parker was on tenor the whole time. Though I was poorly seated (directly behind him), a major moment came when he performed one of his famed circular-breathing multiphonics solos. I know many consider them old-hat, repetitive, circus acts, even, but I'd never heard one before, so I reserve the right to be amazed: for a few minutes, it was like hearing the whole of the saxophone at once, high, low and in-between. The Euro Free Improv guys are dominating my end-of-the-year concert-going: Peter Brötzmann played a fantastic duo with his son Caspar a few weeks ago that I still haven't written about, now another concert-of-the-year level performance.

The solo piano encore

Afterwards, I chatted with Parker a bit, breaking the ice by telling him that they'd been a trio longer then I'd been alive. He replied "I'll have to start getting used to the idea." True, considering that the same could be said for roughly half the crowd.