English&American pr: 2000-2010
Eurock sept. 2010
Embryo - FREEDOM IN MUSIC (CD)
40 years later Christian Burchard and Embryo keep making some of the most original and adventurous world music fusion on the planet. This 2008/9 recording contains their latest work which is unlike anything else you’ll hear anywhere.Archie Patterson eurock
HH live invisible documents 74
Review by Thom Jurek
Now this one is gone. Drummer and percussion master Christian Burchard's Embryo, undergoing continual personnel changes since its inception, is caught live here in 1974. Charlie Mariano had already departed and was replaced by Edgar Hofmann, but his cohort, guitarist Roman Bunka, remains. The band is rounded out as a quartet by bassist Norbert Domling. This is the smallest Embryo manifestation on record, and it is one of the most adventurous and powerful, as well. This gig features four selections over two CDs, the shortest of which is just over nine minutes, and the longest almost 40 minutes. While they are listed as "compositions," these pieces are far more like structured improvisations. Burchard has less control over the proceedings here — though he does play drum solos that last too long — and they benefit as a result. Here saxophones, funk, African rhythms, and folk melodies collide in a mix of jazz-rock fusion's electricity and free-form out jamming. The individual
selections don't matter so much, but the gig as a whole does. In particular, the sax playing by Bunka, and the violin work by Hofmann (who is a fine soprano saxophone player as well) are more than remarkable, they are astonishing in how they propel this music to a point where all ideas of time, space, and categorization blue and melt into the ether of intensity. Highly recommended.
Biography by Geoff Orens
One of the most original and innovative Krautrock bands, Embryo fused traditional ethnic music with their own jazzy space rock style. Over their 30-year existence, during which Christian Burchard has been the only consistent member, the group has traveled the world, playing with hundreds of different musicians and releasing over 20 records.
Originally a jazzy space rock group, Embryo was formed in 1969 in Munich, Germany, by former R&B and jazz organist Christian Burchard (vibraphone, hammer dulcimer, percussion, marimba), Edgar Hofmann (saxophone), Luther Meid (bass), Jimmy Jackson (organ), Dieter Serfas (drums, percussion), Wolfgang Paap (drums), Ingo Schmidt (saxophone), and John Kelly (guitar). However, the lineup was already different by the time of the sessions for their debut album. The resulting record, Opal (1970), is considered the band's masterpiece of their early, more psychedelic sound. By the time of Embryo's Rache (1971), the group was already adding ethnic touches to their music.
In 1972, the same year they played at the Olympic Games in Munich, Embryo was invited by the Goethe Institute to tour Northern Africa and Portugal. In Morocco, the band was fascinated by the different tonal scales used by Moroccan musicians, profoundly shaping the group's music to come. In 1973, the band was joined by saxophonist Charlie Mariano and guitarist Roman Bunka, who were both influential in moving Embryo towards their genre-blending mixture of space rock with ethnic sounds. We Keep On, released in 1973, was the most successful album in the group's career. However, after Surfin' (1974) and Bad Heads and Bad Cats (1975), Burchard decided the band was moving in too commercial a direction and led them on an eight-month excursion to India, where they met local musicians. Shoba Gurtu, an Indian singer the band met during their travels, would later record an album with them, 1979's Apo Calypso. Embryo also set up their own record label, Schneeball, with the rock band Check
point Charlie during this time. The band then took off on a two-year journey through the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, during which the band's bus broke down in Tehran in the middle of a civil war in 1981. The double album Embryo Reise (1981) captured this musical expedition as did the documentary film Vagabunden-Karawane. A
fter touring Asia, the Middle East, and Egypt during the early '80s, Embryo released their first studio album in seven years, Zack Gluck, in 1984. The band then toured Africa and became involved with Nigeria's Yoruba Dun Dun Ensemble. However, after internal conflicts, Embryo split up. Burchard then continued under the name of Embryo with new musicians while a new group, Embryos Dissidenten, was formed. The band released 2001 Live: Vol. 1.
we keep on
Review by Thom Jurek
We Keep On is the German art/jazz rock band Embryo's most successful recording. It's also one of their best. In late 1972, saxophonist Charlie Mariano joined Embryo along with guitarist Roman Bunka. Mariano's already encyclopedic knowledge of world music forms was a welcome addition to the band; they sought to fuse jazz and space rock — à la their countrymen Can — with the various rhythms and harmonic sensibilities of folk musics across the globe. Bunka also played the Turkish saz and was a great, if unconventional, vocalist. Embryo's leader, Christian Burchard, took up everything from drums to marimba to Mellotron on this set to complement pianist Dieter Miekautsch's Rhodes and clavinet work. And Mariano played not only sax and flute but nagasuram and bamboo flutes as well. Here, on "Ehna, Ehna, Abu Lele," West African rhythms danced with jazz rock and wove something entirely new from the roots of both. On "Hackbrett-Dance," saz, marimba, and percussion became something
out of time and space that might have come from any North African nation, but found a place in the tripped-out world of psychedelic space music as well — check the recordings of Angus MacLise for a frame of reference here. But it is on the Miles-influenced jazz-funk of "No Place to Go," which used the Jack Johnson groove to achieve new rock ecstasies, that the album really comes into view for its revolutionary contribution to the language of assimilation. The CD version also contains two welcome bonus tracks from the session, a nearly 16-minute "Ticket to India" and an eight-and-a-half-minute extended improv called "Flute, Saz and Marimba" that could have come from one of Don Cherry's early-'70s recordings. Highly recommended.
Review by Thom Jurek
This sprawling double album is the last Embryo title to feature the great guitarist Roman Bunka. Here, as on many of the band's other recordings, the basis sextet led by Christian Burchard is augmented by dozens of other musicians to varying effect. For starters, Embryo's live recordings are always their best. That is testified to here, as well, since the album was recorded in studios all over Europe, and features a live performance from Munich. It's the sprawl that testifies simultaneously to this album's greatest strength and weakness. While Embryo's musical restlessness counts for great improvised music, particularly in concert settings, the band's studio offerings sometimes lack focus, and that is certainly the case here. There are few long pieces on these two CDs, with 22 tracks in all. Taken as a whole, it would be unfair to say that these are Embryo's "pop" recordings; it is not inaccurate to say that they are consciously more accessible than on any of their other outi
ngs. This band has never aspired to relevance in terms of pop culture, before or after these sessions. The vocal tracks here fall flat and are uninspiring, while the music itself is brilliant and often visionary. This is a mixed bag to be sure, but a far from uninteresting one.
One Night in Barcelona
Review by Thom Jurek
Thirty years on, Christian Burchard's Embryo, despite constant personnel changes, still managed to be one of the foremost bands to explore the outer reaches, where the musics of the world met one another and bled together. To call Embryo a "fusion band" is both accurate, and a gross understatement. There is no mixing together in the band's music, it is the creation of something completely new, multi-lingual, and transcultural they are after. On this evening in 1999, Burchard's ensemble numbered six, and played everything from ouds and nays, to flutes, cellos, drums, marimbas, trumpets, talking drums, and guitars and keyboards. Unlike previous live outings, where less than a handful of long jams were created to showcase the band's improvisational abilities, here there are 11 pieces featured over two hours on two CDs. Burchard's own compositions, and his arrangements of traditional pieces, are employed in a much more restrained showcase than the fiery jazz fusion bombasts of pr
evious decades. If anything, this more nuanced approach is far more desirable because the attention to dynamics and texture allow for the tensions of all these sound worlds to collide in thesis, antithesis, and finally, synthesis. The most stunning works here are the revamped traditional pieces, such as "Oriental Wishes," "Osch," and the Burchard work, "Water and Fire." This is "world music" that literally speaks to a world of music.
Review by Thom Jurek
It goes and it goes. You may have an idea of what you think a full collaboration between New York's underground improv pioneers the No-Neck Blues Band (NNCK) and Germany's longstanding Krautrock experimentalists Embryo (alive in one form or another for over 30 years) might sound like. In some ways, you're right. But nothing quite prepares the listener for the understated, snaky, playful, yet ambiguous interaction that goes on here. Embryo have consistently defied categorization with their incorporation of various ethnic and aboriginal elements in their music. While it's true that Christian Burchard has been the only constant member, he has brought in players from Australia, various regions of Africa, Laplanders, and all manner of indigenous musicians to add to his mix of composition and improvisation. NNCK have been from the land of strange from the word go. Their numerous releases have defied easy pigeonholing and their insistence on remaining anonymous (until this release w
here every musician's name is listed on the back cover, but there's still no information about who plays what or where). This collaboration walked the wire from the outset and could have gone either way. It stays on the spare side of excess, though there is always a lot going on. Check the opener, "Wieder das Erste Mal," where a tom-tom, hand percussion, marimbas, shakers, a cimbalom, and a moaning voice usher in nine and a half minutes of trance where flutes and voices slip into the mix gradually, almost imperceptibly, until there is a wall of sound where the listener falls in the middle of the swirl. Its tribal nature never breaks down, but there is so much more in this mysterious meld that one can forget the rhythms, because they enter the unconscious. "Five Grams of the Widow," a brief piece recorded live, is almost jazz with arranged horns, vibes, toy pianos, etc., following a head for a short period. One has to wonder if the piece was excerpted for this release. It wou
ld have been nice if this one had stretched out more. "Die Farbe Aus Dem All," also moves into out rock territory and becomes an entity that engages jazz and Krautrock more than anything else here. The wailing horns are a real turn on, as is the intensity of the work. Both of the last two tunes here take a while to find their groove: "Zweiter Sommer" is laid-back and exotic, full of flutes and hammered dulcimers and subtly chanted voices; "Das Erste Mal," a revisit of the first track, is over 13 minutes and finds its groove about halfway through. Again, percussion and voices (with some throat singing) lead the charge, but it floats and begins to move and change shape, shifting constantly for about the last seven minutes until it ends up so far from where it began that one is likely to wonder what has just transpired. This is magic music; it melts, shifts, transforms itself as it displaces time. It goes and it goes.
Encyclopedia of Krautrock, Kosmische Musik By Steven & Alan Freeman
Literally the birthplace of a new type of fusion, Embryo had their roots in the very fertile Munich late-1960's scene. Formed in 1969 by percussionist Christian Burchard after leaving Amon Düül II, along with other like-minded former jazz and underground musicians, the idea of Embryo was to work collectively, intuitively, and let the music evolve on its own.
The roots of Embryo can now be found on the CD called FOR EVA, which although released as by Embryo is far removed from what they would record a year or so later. This release should rightly be considered as a Mal Waldron Quintet album, showcasing the early jazz music of Christian Burchard, Dieter Serfas and Lothar Meid. The early pioneering improvised sessions of real primordial Embryo are to be found on the CD reissue of their debut OPAL (with Lothar Meid on bass) which take a jazzy twist on the improvised Ash Ra Tempel or Amon Düül II type sound, freaky and inventive in the extreme.
Embryo's debut album OPAL itself offered a much more varied collection of musics, as British guitarist John Kelly had bought with him a good deal of psychedelia, into the rock, jazz and blues concoction. Then there's even an ode to the death of soul! The final track, "People Out Of The Space", hinted at the Embryo to follow. This original 1970's line-up can now be heard live on the Bremen 1971 CD.
EMBRYO'S RACHE was a very surprising follow-up, with new mainstay Roman Bunka (briefly with an early Missus Beastly line-up), ex-Xhol Caravan Hansi Fisher, and extraordinary keyboards courtesy of Jimmy Jackson (known more widely for his guest work with Amon Düül II, aka "Tabarin Man") the basis for the unique Embryo sound was set, often dynamic and riffing, with ethnic touches and Edgar Hofmann's expressive saxophone, hypnotic and complex music. Not released till much later, but recorded shortly after this, the albums STEIG AUS and ROCKSESSION offer some of the most dazzling Embryo music, a mostly instrumental fusion from an expanded line-up including Sigi Schwab, hot from his stint with Et Cetera and veteran jazzer Mal Waldron.
FATHER SON AND HOLY GHOSTS, with its more condensed and accessible style, showed why United Artists Records weren't interested in the ethnic cum space-rock fusion as heard on STEIG AUS or ROCKSESSION, they wanted a rock album that would sell! To get this sound, Embryo gave the front-seat to the recently drafted multi-instrumental talent (but primarily bassist) Dave King, who had the knack of making even the most experimental music tight and accessible. Dave King has since become a widely sought after musician on both the German jazz and pop scenes. The results were an excellent, though more direct song-based slice of Embryo, in a way more Krautrocky and less jazzy, hinting at the later SURFIN'. So, when UA dropped Embryo, Christian sold those earlier tapes to Brain.
Now with BASF, and a change of focus, WE KEEP ON, featuring Charlie Mariano, took a step back again to free-riffing fusion realms, offering some of the heaviest Embryo on record. But it marked the end of a phase, and when the much more commercial styled SURFIN' (on the new BASF rock label Buk) failed to be the success the record company hoped for, Embryo were dropped with little hope of getting a workable contract with any other label.
Embryo's solution was to form their own label - a label with which they could have total artistic freedom. Thus they embarked on forming the April Records collective along with other like-minded bands. See April Records entry for more on this. With the artistic freedom that they had fought so much for, the Embryo sound moved radically towards jazz with much more ethnic styling, featuring the songs of black American female jazz vocalist Maria Archer.
Later they embarked on ambitious tours to the East and onto India. Early recorded results include a session with Trilok and Shoba Gurtu on APO CALYPSO and then the ambitious double album EMBRYO'S REISE, documenting their tour of the Middle East through Afghanistan and India. An extraordinary release combining the Embryo sound with many different types of ethnic and traditional music, venturing on to realms unheard before. One enterprising Indian troupe, the Karnataka College of Percussion, later came to Germany to tour with Embryo (documented on LIFE) and they have since become famous working with the likes of Charlie Mariano and Iain Ballamy.
Always trying something new, the next big Embryo adventure was a tour via Turkey through to Egypt, and later a tour through Africa. LA BLAMA SPAROZZI, YORUBA DUN DUN ORCHESTRA and AFRICA document these projects with an exceptionally wide variety of musics. The only proper Embryo album of this era was ZACK GLÜCK, a surprising and very long album often hearkening back to the origins of Embryo, with the phenomenal "U-Bahn" occupying most of the second side, shades of EMBRYO'S RACHE and STEIG AUS abound. In all, a remarkable album.
Celebrating 20 years of Embryo, TURN PEACE offered many more surprises, showing that Burchard and co. were still fresh and innovative musicians, still willing to try new ideas and forge on whilst still having the knack for recreating the music they originally set out with! IBN BATTUTA stepped back to ZACK GLÜCK, but with a much more spacey ethnic feel.
A number of releases from this era saw Chris Karrer add his diverse instrumentation, creating lots of new twists to the Embryo sound, with the experience also inspiring his own solo work. He and Christian also worked with Jamal Mohamand (self produced cassette, 1993), who in turn added his traditional Indian singing and harmonium to the Embryo sound. We managed to catch Embryo live in Munich in July 1996 twice, once as a fully fledged band with Jamal as a major focus, and the second time "unplugged" with Chris Karrer. Possibly their most cross-culture incarnation to date, being very ethnic, and with an international cast of musicians, including a Chinese and a Russian. Naturally, they were excellent!
As Embryo keep on keeping on, most of their later output has been live recordings, covering both jazzier realms and continuing to explore new avenues. Embryo continue to tour the continent and further abroad, and constantly surprise with new innovations, proving to be the only Krautrock band to have stuck to their ideals over 30 years, whilst always moving on.
The latest album we know of is EMRYONNCK, a collection of impromptu jams together with the American post-rock improv band NNCK (formerly the No Neck Blues Band) amounting to some of the most heady out-there Embryo for many years, so much so it could almost date from 1969!
6 Jun 2006 Stewart Voegtlin Stylus
The No-Neck Blues Band & Embryo
EmbryoNNCK Held warmly within The Hook's stench, a few hundred braved the relentless steam heat and huddled closer to the stage. Taps had long since run dry; only a few bottled beers remained, an odd liquor selection here and there. Spilled beer mucked around the floor up front as the restroom lines snaked through the bar crowd; joints were rolled and lit; urinals, toilets hiccoughed and spilt over. "Red Hook is a maze of hybrid squalor near the ancient waterfront opposite Governor's Island," Lovecraft wrote long ago; "it is a Babel of sound and filth, and sends out strange cries to answer the lapping oily waves at its grimy piers and the monstrous organ litanies of the harbor whistles." A history too easily grasped to stand indifferently; the village once deemed Roode Hoek by its Dutch inhabitants served the apropos backdrop for No-Neck, in appearance a street gang freed of its fight and intent on banging out rhythms, wrestling chords from steel strings. The restroom door stood open; a longhair steadied his self against the wall with a free hand. Onstage, guitars scratched and nipped at irritable keys; hand-drums thumped and tumbled; one stood naked, covered in blood, hands rattling shakers as rhythms walked into walls with nowhere to go. The ritual might as well have been performed in the streets, amongst career drunks in Prospect Park, in Lady Liberty's direct gaze, at sunset from the feet of the Gowanus.
Not too long ago, when the country was split into separate nations, when flags shone few stars and boats cluttered harbors filled with immigrant's twisted tongues and the "wood coats" worn by the war dead, mystery choked the air as readily as cholera; "heathen" musics splashed over Sousa'd rat-tat-tats, pulmonary Alma Mater replete with blood-soaked brass, skin-stretched beaters, rope tension bass drums rumbling as thunder sheets. Commingling inevitable, musical divisions were destined to relax. Connective tissue came about on its own - caused of itself - threading Chinese gong and zither, snare and ocinara, accordion, oboe, kalimba and tuba. Bones made as good a striker as a stick; skulls even saved tones within their temples. Musical primitivism struggled against the score's formality around shine-sustained campfires, in the midst of orchestra pits, blacks on urban block corners clicking out a living in worn tap shoes. Music sought to maintain the mystery that "theosophy" thought to disperse. The Transcendentalist, folk sage, mystic and alchemist alike spun similar yarns, cocooning the unknown in a curious claptrap. Syllogisms became a part of the sonic mapping, music derived from tonal deduction. Reluctant bedfellows, their alliance saw few red-blooded conquests as musical modernism left the concert stage staid; boxcar vagabonds and boorish savants slipped into the basement to harness the past; proffer a future; befuddle and enrage the usual suspects.
As much a part of the "invisible republic" as Bukka and Boggs, Harlem's No-Neck Blues Band has worked tirelessly to untangle Reason's yarn, giving the stage thoughtless sound, percussive strokes that rise out of ribcages and disperse like the long, deep piss. Appropriately, there had to be a nexus of past and present: here a meeting of familiar bedfellows, EmbryoNNCK documents a seamless merger with Munich's Embryo, an ensemble with a 30-year existence, three decades of constant experimentation, ad hoc provocation birthed from musical boredoms. A rare success outside of improvised jazz, this tandem triumphs in its selflessness, musical devotion built on custom's foundation - as much to do with the Depression-era front-porch hootenanny as Krautrock's storied linear madness: Autobahn'd motorik rebuilt on the bedrock of ritual hand percussion, xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel. Other elements: flatulent brass, rollicking free reeds, meandering bass and winged strings sew themselves onto each other, piercing, perforating, and healing anew. For this music, there is no sequence, no series suspended in time. Beginning and end as plastic sounds pulled into shape - a circle drawn in the dirt from nail-bitten fingers. Drums nearly beat Blakey, unbound from a zither's metal pluck; voice mumbles, screeches, whispers and slow yells; guitars sound as so many cicadas stridulating in the moist summer air; claves, bone and brass slapped, struck and shattered: the primordial murmured "ur," pre-conception's sticky process, pre-fetal, outside of the egg as only an impulse withheld. Sun Ra'd big band, organic and inorganic sound as ordinary event and inexplicable phenomena - all the violence and beauty of a backseat birth from an unwilling mother who can no longer keep her baby within her well: The cracking of several shells underneath an unmoving ass. Were we to break the egg, Emerson tells us, the embryo - before its eyes have even opened, will bite fiercely. Provoke a snapping turtle with a stick and his teeth quickly respond. Take his head from the body with a blade and the teeth still do not relinquish the stick: They bite in death; they bite even before they are born. The No-Neck Blues Band and Embryo - Das Erste Mal: The first time.
Wieder, das Erste Mal: Again, the first time. Habit's custom comes in many forms. It wears as many faces. Loosed from the Latin - suus - one's own, or found in bone chimes' crinkle, a conch trumpet's bellow, the sweet thump of a marimba's tonal bars amidst ride cymbal sizzle. From the start, the ensemble easily couples; clang and clatter, Strum und Drang. It's how they all perceive their parts, their instruments: a guitar is wire and wood as much as it is frets and notes as it is a hard purple prick dancing in a slick soft fist. Present-to-hand leaves them as a muck of materials; ready-to-hand sets them soaring. The percussion is no different, as skin and shell combine to thump, rumble and roar - echoes of the animals they were culled together from. Die Farbe Aus Dem All: Qualities of the unqualified. Too great to be plied with pen, to dense to be thinned with word or song, one's only recourse is usage - practice or procedure, a method to the music, which is truly what EmbryoNNCK is at its base. Jug or jam band, guerilla outfit or neo-dada situationists, the two ensembles couldn't be more similar, a resemblance seen easily from a mutual approach, a common "usage." Sun Records' Sam Phillips knew if church song was pulled from the pews, sung after several bottles of beer paid for with a paycheck's last cents, it meant more; it was more; not just a song: a organization of instrumental passages augmented with narrative vocals - it was an experience, an event put together with cunning usage.
Usage's clothes are kept in separate closets - either hidden away like fetish wear in bottom drawers or kept crisp and bright as the starched white of a business blouse. Fetish leather isn't part of the work world; just as "smart" shoes and a Hermès scarf have no place in the rite of indoor sport. The heathen's hallowed "blot," the communicant Catholic's wafer and wine: body and blood - both instruments given meaning from the adherent's devotion. It's one thing to be aware of this, another to act on it. Tropes come with their own tolls, duties; making good on the expression is always quid pro quo. When the exchange isn't made, neither is music. When the fare is paid, one is ably carried away, cradled in competing melodies often times threatening to lose its line, but ably staying its course, aided by a whistle, a rustle of dried leaves or beans, a tambourine's trickle. Call it counterpoint; call it contrapuntal, it's the same no matter in The Band's basement, Zappa behind Beefheart's mixing board, a suburban stoner placing a micro-cassette recorder on the tracks as the locomotive's whistle slowly lows.
No-Neck and Embryo share the same knowledge: The point of much music is transport. Whether one's ears are punctured on one prickly detail or lost in cogency's lack of locale, both avenues are ends of the same line; terminals grown from their own green geometries, concluding in solipsistic impressionism - fleeting eidolons like fresh cut flowers thrust into a vase of bleach. As easily as one is carried away, one can crash back into the here and now: horny morning thoughts breakfasted on tongues, vulvas and slapping pelvises are lost in invasive alarm trumpets; there is no recovery in coffee, shower and commute. Which is why a head stuck in song is always a welcome diversion - a place without space, a region comprised solely of remnants.
Traces are the stuff from which much mindfulness swells; where the embryo is held at home in its shell, knowing nothing outside of its calcareous covering. Here, self is the only truth; the thing alone is all there is, a world whipped up from its own modifications - no matter how minute, banal or primitive: The percussive clutter of "Die Farbe Aus Dem All," the snapshot primitivism that lingers in the fragrance of "Frank Cologne," an unmeasured quantity of "Five Grams of Widow" - all distinctly different approaches that rise to similar heights, achieving an unspoken goal of musical timelessness. The ensemble may deem it Das Erste Mal, or even liken the recording to the earliest stages of development - as in embryonic, but these are sounds that have always been here and are only now registering impressions. Earshot has never roamed wider; from Red Hook to Munich, from Appalachia to Autobahn, first and last are all here, in the "Babel of sound and filth" that continues to dwell within the folk free enough to let it be.
"The moon began to rise "full of flags without wind" ...and it keeps on in a creative freedom, that is the main thing of the project directed with high class by Christian Burchard, also a fantastic player of different instruments like xylophones, santour... Its an open band. This evening in Cafe vittoria there were 2 hours of great fascination. They are masters of ceremony. A legend that is always up to date, that creates spacy sounds moving in direction future..
2 sets that are completely different. First they paint pictures like pastels, build on polymetrical pictures. You can see Oriental athmospheres - since the 70 ies they work on that.
Then after a short break they come up with creative jazz-rock with electric instruments and smokey vocals that seem to come from a strange place. They received for that completely different sets a big applause...
In a time that seems to be directed by all kind of standards Embryo is really something new, which is always moving ahead. A direct communication and being infinite curious, make them create a music without borders."
...relaxed but high concentrated and always listening to each other...they are more than worldmusic. You get rewarded for this extraordinary listening The world of sounds that Embryo creates makes you move and you can feel intensity and deepness. When you really listen you can hear the perfection of the high complicated rhythms that are played with virtuosity..."
Two maestros, two old friends come together. Waldron is a monument of contemporary Jazz; his incomparable musicality. both subded and hypnotic, has been the perfect backdrop for musicians such as: Charles Mingus, Billie Holiday. John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy. Burchard is also a monument of European jazz rock. Leader of Embryo for over thirty years, forerunner of "world music", he has mantained important contacts with the German and American scene. Their meeting has distant origins and it was actually Embryo, a group always open to new musical experiences, who first asked to Mal Waldran to take part in some of their performances.
"lntoThe Light" gives a deeper view into the music of Mal Waldron and Christian Burchard, because half of the recordings are a strict duo Iine up. the interplay of the two musicians is clear to follow. A third part is added by drummer Dieter Serfas who is a permanent member of Embryo aod the bass player Michael Schöne.There is one composition by Mal Waldron, one by Christian Burchard and a joint one. The fourth part features an extract from a piano solo Mal Waldron played at a festival for the 20th anniversary of Embryo and some pieces Christian Burchard recorded spontanously in Munich in 1990. Mal and Chrlstian, two generations of innovators. Two soloists refined and original soloist, free of ideological constrictions, who create that magical overlap between afro-american iazz and the experimental interpretations of Europeans music.
The collaborations between pianist Mal Waldron and vibist Christian Burchard are typically brooding and slow to get going, but once they pick up steam, they have all of the energy of Waldron's best releases of the 1960s and 1970s. The two men co-wrote four of the nine compositions on these 1989-1990 studio sessions, including the slowly evolving and rather long "From Darkness Into the Light," the tense miniature "Waters From the Waters," and the quartet piece "Gan Gan," which is named for the exotic hand percussion instrument (the gangan) played by Dieter Serfas on this somewhat whimsical work. Waldron also reprises songs written earlier in his career, including a haunting rendition of "Left Alone" that begins with Waldron strumming the piano's strings, and the crawling, well- titled "Lonely Nights." The CD ends with separate solo performances by both Waldron and Burchard. The pianist`s "Embryo Solo" begins with an ominous cadence suggesting impending doom before it loses its intensity in a relatively calmer second half, which is unfortunately prematurely faded. "Giesing," the vibraphonist`s coda, is brief and a bit overmodulated. This very enjoyable Italian CD is well worth acquiring. -