cooler suite    grob-records

thomas borgmann - tenor, sopranino sax
peter brötzmann - tenor, alto sax, a-clarinet
william parker - bass
rashied bakr - drums

  • GROB 539
  • LC 10292
  • c+p GROB 2003
  • produced for GROB by Felix Klopotek

 ...listen Cooler Suite on Youtube

What kind of sense does it make to release a five-year old recording? In addition, from musicians who release numerous new recordings year after year (the exception is Rashied Bakr, who mostly works a social worker in New York)?
And above all, from a group that doesn't exist anymore, that never really existed and only performed once in an ad-hoc formation?

(That's not really true: In NY and around this 4-tet was called BLUE and played a couple of times, the Knitting & Michael Ehlers place in Amherst and so on, but in general Denis Charles was sitting at the drums, just this occasion was done with Rashied, while Denis was in France - comment by thomas borgmann)

The reason is a banal as radical: it is the music. One evening both saxophonists Thomas Borgman (Ruf der Heimat, Boom Box, cooperation with Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, Lol Coxhill, Borah Bergman, Heinz Sauer, among others) and Peter Brötzmann (no comment) played together with the New Yorker rhythm group William Parker and Rashied Bakr in the performance space Cooler, now long gone.

It was moving and enthusiastic Free Jazz, as it was sublimely conservative and legendary. The music is so straight and uncomplicated as it can be: Parker plays a bass that nothing can shake, stable as the trunk of an old oak tree; Bakr plays the drums with a feathery pulse, but always wide awake and driving.

Together this results in a foundation upon which the power players Borgmann and Brötzmann give each other their hand, as if dreamily in wedlock, the solos pass by, they allow themselves (and us) melodic flights, but above all they celebrate a powerplay as if free jazz had finally established itself as the folk music of the 21st century.

Of course, say the connoisseurs and concert goers, that's how it felt live in this bitter cold NY winter. But how can this sound be meditated on such a profane thing, on a CD? The point is that the concert was recorded on a cheap analogue cassette since other alternatives were lacking.

The recording level was overloaded and, what's more, hissed a lot. Last but not least, the recording devise was connected directly to the mixing board such that the bass, recorded directly, was mixed far up front. Seldom has William Parker been so present on a recording.
And this is how it happened that the raw, crackling, lightly distorted sound perfectly reflects the euphoric, even psychedelic quality of the music.

The somewhat poor recording quality (that thanks to the restoration of Thomas Borgmann and Markus Schmickler is really only slightly poor) can easily be exchanged, 2 to 1, for a kind of neo-authenticity.
That's why we have released this recording, after it popped up in Thomas Borgmann's apartment in Kreuzberg, Berlin at the beginning of 2002.

Peter Brötzmann contributed the artwork, the liner notes were written by the well-known journalist Tobias Rapp.

by Tobias Rapp

It is the simple that is hard to do, Bertold Brecht once said about communism, and one could say the same about free jazz.

Simple because no simpler concept can be thought: free jazz is radically committed to the here and now, to the interaction between the participants. Hard because it is a music that constantly exposes itself to the risk of failing, to turn into noise, to no longer be an exchange, but rather a plodding by each other.

Simple because an original democratic principle of openness and equality underlies free jazz. Hard, because one cannot force openness and equality.
It works or it doesn't, and for the listener it works best at the concert venue, since there one is locked into the same time-space continuum as the musicians: one can not only hear them, one can see them as well, observe who looks at whom, how they give signals, how one laughs or pulls a face, how the drops of spit spray from the instruments and the sweat pearls off their heads.
One is an unmediated part of a here and now in which the music plays.

If there had not been a small ferro cassette full of demo recordings that the saxophonist Thomas Borgmann carried around with him when he performed at the New York "Cooler" in January 1997, the concert that he played with Peter Brötzmann, William Parker and Rashied Bakr would have disappeared irrecoverably into the then and there, into the sea of anecdotes and memories whose white crest waves appear as quickly as they disappear.

The DAT recorder on the mixing board did not work; no unused cassettes were on hand. So, this ferro cassette was shoved into the tape recorder and the slightly overloaded, somewhat fucked-up sound of this recording wonderfully and beautifully corresponded to the directness and the intensity of the music.
It's got a sound of those charming recordings passed on by word-of-mouth with "you-gotta-hear-this," a sound that transports a lot of the atmosphere-because one perceives it with its rawness as such-that must have dominated at the "Cooler" that evening, a club in New York which has since closed, located in the meat packer district.
It got its name from its past as a cold storage room for sides of beef.

It is a great concert. Thomas Borgmann and Peter Brötzmann play saxophone and clarinet, William Parker bass and Rashied Bakr drums.
The concert is a suite in two parts, the first around 27 minutes and the second around 24. And although the musicians had played more often with each other in changing constellations than they themselves could count, the density of the music surprises, the organic quality of their playing together.

William Parker's percussive bass and Rashied Bakr's flickering drums are tightly woven with the elegant lines and the aggressive eruptions of both saxophonists. The music is radically present and yet borne by a deep knowledge of its history.
One thinks one can hear the influence of Albert Ayler, not only in Brötzmann 's and Borgmann's playing, but also in the way the saxophones correspond with the drums and bass.
And then there is another window that is ripped open here, an other wind that blows. In short: the "Cooler Suite" is Free Jazz at the heights of its possibilities.
Aggressive and dense, so untrimmed as if the GROB ["coarse" in German] label had named itself in anticipation of this recording.
And it's equally full of soul.

Translation: Bruce Carnevale



Endlich, endlich. Dreimal endlich. Wieder einmal eine das Wort verdienende, zumal von deutscher Hand bestimmte spontane Freejazz-Produktion.
Und die Aufnahmen dazu sind schon sechs Jahre alt. Es war im Januar 1997, als der Viererpack in New York im „Cooler“ eine unvermittelte Session anlegte, ohne großartige Pläne, ohne geheime Hintergedanken, einfach so.
Die zwei Teile dieser „Suite“ zeigen eine wahre Schlacht zwischen den Bläsern (Borgmann, Brötzmann) und der Rhythmusgruppe (Parker, Bakr).
Dieser Wettkampf ist jedoch völlig gewaltfrei, es ging dabei „nur“ um die unkomplizierte, orgiastische, kühl-abstinente Umsetzung von Tönen und Vielklängen.
Enorm der Druck, den die beiden Saxophone erzeugen, die auf angemessene Reaktion von Bass und Drums treffen.
Zum Glück für Fans sind die Aufnahmen wieder aufgetaucht. Vielleicht findet sich noch irgendwo etwas davon.

Klaus Hübner (Westzeit)



Featuring Peter Brotzmann and Thomas Borgmann on tenor saxes, William
Parker on acoustic bass, Rashied Bakr on drums and was recorded live
at the now defunct Cooler on the west side of 14th St.
Thomas Borgmann is another unsung sax hero from Germany, who has recorded
three fine trio cds with Wilber Morris and Dennis Charles, a trio
date with Brotzmann and another trio date with Anthony Braxton and
Borah Bergman.
He can blow up a storm like his fellow German sax
hero, Peter Brotzmann and here goes to match wits with this amazing
all-star quartet. Mind-blowing, as expected!!

~ bruce lee gallanter   downtown music gallery



© thomas borgmann | impressum