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Peter Brötzmann

Peter Brötzmann is one of the most important and uncompromising figures in free jazz and has been at the forefront of developing a unique, European take on free improvisation since the 1960s. 

Brötzmann first trained as a painter and was associated with Fluxus (Participating in various events and working as an assistant to Nam Jun Paik) before dissatisfaction with the art world moved his focus towards music. However he continued to paint and his instantly recognisable visual sensibility has produced some of our favourite LP sleeves as well as a number of gallery shows in recent years. 

Self-taught on Clarinet and Saxophone, Brötzmann established himself as one of the most powerful and original players around, releasing a number of now highly sought after sides of musical invention including the epochal 'Machine Gun' session in 1968 - originally released on his own Brö private press and later recordings for FMP (Free Music Production) the label he started with Jost Gebers. Brötzmann's sound is "one of the most distinctive, life-affirming and joyous in all music" and he has performed with almost all of the major players of free music from early associations with Don Cherry and Steve Lacy to regular groupings with Peter Kowald, Alex Von Slippenbach, Han Bennink and Fred Van Hove, the Chicago Tentet (Mats Gustafsson/Joe McPhee/Ken Vandermark and more) and various one-off and ad hoc associations with many others including Keiji Haino, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton and Rashied Ali. 

Featured releases

Our tenth OTOROKU release sees a return to the group that kick-started the label - the veteran German reedsman and free jazz pioneer Peter Broetzmann with the long-running London bass/drums partnership of John Edwards and Steve Noble. After the release of '…The Worse The Better' that group went on to play a series of devastating shows in Europe and to emerge as one of Broetzmann's finest working groups. Over the same period Peter was developing a deep rapport with Jason Adasiewicz, the upstart vibraphone player from Chicago. What seems on paper like an awkward pairing reveals itself on stage and on record as a symbiotic revelation. Adasiewicz's physical attack matching Broetzmann for impact whilst the extended sustain of the vibes opens up an eerie space for some of Broetzmann's most fertile lyricism. The recording is from the last set of a two-day residency at Cafe OTO that brought these two groups together for an astonishing quartet. Adasiewicz and Noble struck up an immense partnership in rhythm. Edwards wrestled with a broken house bass and failing amplifier and still managed new levels of invention - stoking the others onwards. Broetzmann was clearly energised - I swear I saw him dancing at the side of the stage whilst exchanging a shattered reed. And for all the usual rhetoric of Free Jazz bluster and machismo, this is a meeting characterised by the joy of communal creation that makes you want to dance - even if only in your head.

Broetzmann / Adasiewicz / Edwards / Noble – MENTAL SHAKE

"There is complexity in simplicity, and Sparrow Nights is Peter Brötzmann and Heather Leigh's most enduring record to date, and their first studio album. A series of emotionally rich and boldly elucidated tonal and timbral exchanges played like compositions on pedal steel and reeds, the tracks (released as a 6 track LP and 10 track CD) are cold-forged minimalist blues motifs dragged from instrumental laments.   After three years playing together Brötzmann/Leigh's connection and understanding is by now both cerebral and deeply invested in the physical and sensory possibilities of their combined sound, while retaining a melancholic distance. Within this duo there is fluidity – neither is the anchor – and these recordings sound with as much variety as the sea. At times Sparrow Nights carries the clarity and poeticism of still water and open horizon ("This Word Love"), and at others it contains the elemental and ferocious roar of white water breakers on black rocks ("This Time Around").     On their previous three live albums (Ears Are Filled With Wonder, Sex Tape, Crowmoon) the duo have developed an intimate and intense language that manifests here as a focus on power and control, where figures blasted of unnecessary decoration are drawn from the shadows and smoke of collapse. The studio setting also allows Brötzmann to bring a broader range of reeds than in live scenarios: where previously he has played primarily tenor, clarinet and tarogato with Leigh, here he delivers the heat of alto and the low pressure of bass saxophone and clarinet.  Brötzmann’s duo with Leigh continues to trace a fresh new arc in his trajectory, and this release also falls at a time when Leigh releases Throne, her most song-based record to date. Here as a studio duo they play a new-old blues for times of complexity, noise and chaos, continuing to redefine and re-sound possibilities for improvised music."   

Peter Brötzmann / Heather Leigh – Sparrow Nights

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