SVEN-ÅKE JOHANSSON mit dem NUMI im SO 36 '79 (05.2004)
Sven-Åke Johansson’s art has been well documented, and yet
there are still discoveries to be found in his cosmos: among these is
his work with large groups. One knows the music he has made with jazz
combos, free improvising duos and trios or classic free jazz ensembles.
He has written pieces for music theatre as well as for new music. He has,
however, repeatedly tried out improvisational models in orchestra-like
situations – and it is this work that has hardly been documented.
In the middle of the 80’s, Johannson released a single ”Sven-Åke
Johansson with the NMUI in SO 36 ‘79” in cooperation with
the Berlin-based label, FMP. Hidden behind the cryptic abbreviation NMUI
is North European Melody and Improvisation Orchestra [in German, Nordeuropäische
Melodie- und Improvisationsorchester]. A group, which in addition to Johansson
(on drums and accordion), was made up of Rüdiger Carl (tenor saxophone,
accordeon), Wolfgang Fuchs (diverse wooden reed instruments), the trombonists
Radu Malfatti and Thomas Wiedermann, Hans Reichel on guitar, Norbert Eisbrenner
on violin and Maarten Altena van Regteren on bass and cello. It goes without
saying: an all-star ensemble.
The single, with a cover from Martin Kippenberger, who also financially
supported the recording, contained a twelve-minute section from a concert
that, of course, lasted much longer. For nearly 20 years, this single
remained the only evidence of Johansson’s large ensemble work –
until this recording, which – almost exactly 25 years later to the
very day – documents that concert in its full length. And what can
you hear? At first, great solos. Johansson creates a lot of space for
the players; Hans Reichel, Rüdiger Carl or Maarten Altena play with
abandon. Carl, for example, who hasn’t played saxophone for over
10 years, plays unchained free jazz – neighing horses, screaming
motors, rat-a-tatting machine guns.
Johannson doesn’t just create ”frames” in which the
improvisers move freely, rather he achieves an open compositional principle
where an unbelievable amount can (and should) happen, but what happens
(which is improvised) makes sense, is committed, originates out of certain
compositional connections and leads to others in turn. Thus pulsing free
jazz results, flights in new music and, again and again, Berlin folk music.
With care, the NMUI adapts the swaying classic ”Bis früh um
fünfe/wir sind immer noch Berliner” [Until early at five in
the morning/We’re all still from Berlin]. ”Berlin Folk Music”
– this refers to the location where this music was performed: at
the legendary concert hall SO 36 in the middle of the Kreuzberg quarter
of Berlin. Back then in 1979 Martin Kippenberger programmed the concerts
and staged everything that was radical and good: punk, industrial, wave,
avant-pop and free jazz again and again. The audience – mostly punks
– accepted the aesthetic challenge and reacted aggressively. One
recognizes this on this recording, which originates out of the audience.
There is heckling, loud screaming, displays of displeasure.... The musicians
don’t let themselves be intimidated. In contrast, the music sounds
even more emphatic.
With this restoration of this legendary performance, GROB continues the
cooperation with Sven-Åke Johansson which began last year (see Hudson
Riv GROB 542). Other recordings will follow.
This release is a co-production with the Swedish label
Maarten Altena van Regteren
back to GROB catalog
GROB651 Filip/ Malfatti/ mattin/ Roberts - Building Excess