CIMP 160 Stalker songs

Thomas Borgmann Trio & Peter Brötzmann


Thomas Borgmann - tenor, soprano and sopranino sax
Peter Brötzmann - tenor sax, clarinet, tarogato
Wilber Morris - bass
Denis Charles - drums.

  • Stalker songs part 1 (34.54)
  • Stalker songs part 2 (30.10)
  • Recorded on 23 September 1997 at The Spirit Room, Rossie, NY.
  • Cover art (reproduced above) Stalkers by Kara D. Rusch.



>The best free jazz isn't about who can wail the loudest or who can plink the softest; it's about passion, about compelling composition in-the-moment.
Think of Coltrane's Ascension, Cecil Taylor's Spring of Two Blue-J's; or the wall-shredding music of Charles Gayle: It's not only harmony and rhythm that are liberated, it's also the soul.

Stalker Songs presents totally improvised music at an almost scary level of ensemble interaction.
If you don't know saxofonist Thomas Borgmann's name, you'll remember it after hearing this album. His very linear but wholly free approach to his horn recalls the great Sun Ra Arkestra saxofonist, John Gilmore.
Peter Brötzmann is like a blowtorch: He beats up with a searing intensity and retains a sharp focus on the intuitive structure.
There are many moments, like his duet with bassist Wilber Morris in the closing minutes of "Part 1" or the opening twin-tenor melody of "Part 2", that are staggering in their intelligence and clarity.
The sensitive prodding of the late drum master Denis Charles undergirds everything with a graceful, flowing pulse.

Yet, what is most impressive about this disc is the way all four players surrender their egos and integrate their contributions into spontaneous composition - thrilling, cathartic, and majestic.<
Larry Nai, JAZZIZ (USA), January 1999


Thomas Borgmann's trio, with the late Denis Charles on drums and Wilbur Morris on bass, was a formidable unit. They were capable of bringing together both side of the jazz avant-garde (the fiery, wildly dissonant, and intense side with the space exploring, multi-textured, microtonally conscious side) effortlessly, and often within the same composition.
This is no mean feat for a trio. When saxophone wailing Wotan Peter Brötzmann was added to the equation for this impromptu date, it would seem that the scales tip decidedly in favor of one side. Not so.

The two tracks here and both spontaneous improvisations recorded in one day (the band played two half hour sets, had a two hour rest, and played two more).
The tracks included are the first half-hour from each set. Here both saxophonists placed themselves solidly in front of one another and instinctually ask to be led by the rhythm section.
Anyone who is familiar with Charles and Morris knows the power they are capable of summoning on a moments notice.
Given how much younger Borgmann is than the rest of this group, it is stunning to hear how well he holds his own and even thrives in this setting.
There is no intimidation factor; he and Brötzmann move through each other like big immutable spirits, coloring the air with scalar inventions, tonal scrambles, and honking and squealing in rhythm.
The rhythm section has no trouble with cracking the whip on both men. Charles and Morris make an offering to the realms of texture, consistency, and spatial exploration all around the pair.
When it's all over, the listener is exhausted, having been taken to many places and through many changes in harmonic dimension and a palette of colors so rich and deep, it's a wonder they don't all run together.
And since this is the last session that Denis Charles played on -- he died at age 64 after touring with this band for a month -- it is a fitting send off for an artist of his stature.
Thom Jurek, AllMusicGuide (USA) 1999



Borgmann, ts, sopranino,s; Brötzmann, ts, tarogato; Denis Charles, dr; Wilber Morris, b.

September 23.1997, Rossie, N.Y.

An offering by the Thomas Borgmann trio with guest Peter Brötzmann, is another hell-raiser. I’ve become increasingly impressed with Borgmann’s reed prowess over the past year. He has power, passion, technique, and range.
His playing is exciting and multi-faceted. There is a variety to be found in his solos that often escapes other talented sax players.
As in his other recent releases, he is particularly well served by Denis Charles, who seems highly attuned to each web Borgmann spins.
Few drummers can focus so firmly on a reed player’s every gesture, and to such excellent effect. Charles’ solos are sometimes a little reserved, but his ensemble work is consistently wonderful.

I’ve often been heard to sing Wilber Morris’ praises in these pages. He is not only powerful and fast, but there is a touching melancholy to much of his playing, in fact, for all of his fury and technical flair, there’s more lyricism generated by Morris’ two brief solos on Stalker Songs.
The weakest parts of the disk are the openings of each set, and these bits are quite short ( and not really that bad, either).
While Brötzmann’s opening tenor solo on "Part I" is somewhat strident and uneventful, his ensuing contribution on tarogato (which sounds a lot like a soprano sax to me) is quite wonderful, as is his tenor closing (where Morris’ commentary is terrific).
Brötzmann’s thick, visceral sound and vibrato, as always, contrasts perfectly with his cubistic pitch and rhythmic choices.

There is also a density to his timbre that provides a nice differentiation from Borgmann’s more open and inviting tone.
Other than the faltering first couple of minutes to the opening to "Part II", Borgmann delivers no false notes here.
Most of what emerges from his lips on this recording has the aura of the timeless classic about it. His work, both on tenor and on sopranino, is, at times, jamngly beautiful. He demonstrates a wider range of expression than does Brötzmann, who concentrates on the furious and exclamatory.
It is also worth repeating that Borgmann has the advantage of a perfect rapport with Charles that isn’t quite there for Brötzmann.
The recording has the customary CIMP sonic excellence and wide dynamic range. In my view, this disk’s only sin is one of omisson: there are only very short snippels where these two sax phenoms play together.
I like complexity and counterpoint, and while there is plenty of both on Stalker Songs, there could have been so much more if there were the occasional reed duet or full quartet.
It seems to me a bit wasteful to have had both these talented artists present and not have given the audience a fuller taste of what they can do with - or to - each other.
This isn’t really a criticism, however: it’s just a plea for more (and soon!), Stalker Songs is a fine release which I recommend highly.

Walter Horn

CADENCE - Jazz Magazin (USA), August 1998




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