Peter Brotzmann, Marino Pliakas & Michael Wertmuller - Full Blast (Jazzwerkstatt CD)
I'm not really "abreast" of the "current" "jazz" "scene" or anything so I tend to find out about a lot of jazz release some months (years) after they've come and gone. This Brotzmann/Pliakas/Wertmuller disc must be recent though since it says "recorded February 6 2006 at LOFT in Koln" right on it. So I'm on the ball for once, kinda. What I don't know is if this trio is a regular one - I know Brotzmann's played with Wertmuller before and maybe these three hit it off live with a degree of regularity but I'm pretty sure it's the first time they've ever laid down an album together. And if that's the case they need to do it more often because "Full Blast" is total domination, start to finish. 5 untitled tracks over 45 minutes - perfect enough to enjoy just enough but be left wanting more. Brotzmann plays alto, tenor, and tarogato. Pliakas playes electric bass. Wertmuller plays drums (does he ever). I cry myself to sleep. Let's do it.
Right from the git-go the chips are on the table with Brotzmann immediately laying down sloping mountains of the post-Ayler blowisms you'd never mistake for anything else, while Wertmuller adds the kind of frantic/restrained combo drumming one might expect to hear in a band like Ruins. Pliakas is the blue blood coursing through the veins of the unit, steering the band in every direction from speed-reading through and on to molasses lullabyes (but usually only for a brief instant). Brotzmann's upper-register gasps sound like a chihuahua with severed vocal chords and double up at rapid pace as the first track comes to a close, only to segue perfectly into a tense bass rumble from Pliakas to open untitled number two. Pliakas' dizzying rhythms remind me of Meshuggah's Fredrik Thordendal which is especially bizarre considering Thordendal plays guitar. But I find this whole disc to have a very "metal"-like atmosphere throughout...then again Brotzmann's always been more metal than half the jokers in the genre anyway. The pulse builds over the course of that track and the next, during which Brotzmann is constantly hurling out giantic spitballs of brass intensity while the rhythym section continue their rapid-fire flaring until track four begins and I piss my pants with fear and excitement because the trio lay down the sickest riffing (it can be called nothing else but) this side of Last Exit...it actually sounds a lot like Lightning Bolt, just to give you some kind of idea as to how furious it really is. The rest of the 15-minute ditty is spotty, as in sometimes aggressive and sometimes laid back but always interesting. The three interplay beautifully with Wertmuller's snare rolling bouncing off Brotzmann's sax-speech which in turn is kept moving along by Pliakas' bass. Brotzmann gets his turn to shine (as if he isn't already adding his massive thumbprint all over the music) with a brief but beautiful little solo in the fourth track before handing the reins over to Wertmuller who opens track five with an unbelievably explosive percussion solo. Shit is frantic. But Wertmuller turns it almost down to zero so Brotzmann can get a few quiet words in on the tarogato (I believe) before switching back to the sax and all three jump back in for the last few minutes as if to add the final exclamation point to a gripping, high-octane, ball-breaking set. "Full Blast" is as apt a record title if there ever was one.
It's hard to find much information on this disc, and Jazzwerkstatt (loose translation: jazz work statt) website isn't helping things much for you and me by offering all their information exclusively in German. But next time you're in whatever fine location it is that you usually buy compact disc albums, if you stumble across this one bearing signature Brotzmann cover art and reading "FULL FUCKING BLAST"* in big red letters, pick it up and I guarantee you won't regret it.
(*Note: may not actually include the word "fucking")