30 novembre 2011

Paul Hubweber & Philip Zoubek : trombone and piano

   Notes of the "Archiduc Concert - Dansaert Variations " CD by Paul Hubweber & Philip Zoubek, trombone and piano recorded in Brussels, november 2007. CD Emanem 5011.  http://www.emanemdisc.com  http://www.paulhubweber.com/ 

Once, during a concert intermission, I looked at a CD awaiting its buyer on the CD stall.  It seemed anonymous and unimportant, adorning a bright red monochrome abstract painting looking cheap on the cover.  The title NOBODY’S MATTER BUT OUR OWN reminded me that there are still some unknowns in the process of free improvisation, and no one knows better than the performer himself, who is all the while a strong and creative personality.  One of the musicians involved was just standing by my side and I immediately felt that the man became “inside” - very sincerely proud of this special work - when I opened the tray.  So, as improvised music is a matter of sincerity, I bought it immediately, and I did well.  I think it is now sold-out after having been poorly distributed.  NOBODY’S MATTER BUT OUR OWN is one of the most underrated recordings of European improvised music, issued by a low profile German label, NurNichtNur.  NNN’s catalogue has issued many gems, documenting mostly improvisers from the Northern Rhenan region.

   I was stunned by the depth of the overall sound of the duo music of veteran trombonist Paul Hubweber and young pianist Philipp Zoubek and the empathy created by them.  The subtle way how the innards of the prepared grand piano were moved with acute rhythmic sense and the spontaneous mapping of an architecture is rare to find even among the most accomplished improv practitioners.  It sounded at first as good as an ideal and hypothetical recording that the late Paul Rutherford and Fred Van Hove should have made or would have issued as a duo.  I had once witnessed a nice tandem of Fred and the late great Albert Mangelsdorff and subsequently Fred and Paul’s duets in Brussels and Ghent in 1977 and 1986 respectively.

   Derek Bailey once described Rutherford ‘s solo music (the famous GENTLE HARM LP now on Emanem 4019) as “the genuine article“, and that “it's a combination of the easy, the difficult and the impossible”.  And when I heard Hubweber’s focus on single sounds taking all his time to blow, Derek’s words immediately sprung to mind.  If the Afro-American New Thing of the sixties was guided by many fantastic saxophone greats like Coltrane, Ayler, Ornette, Roscoe Mitchell, Braxton, Lacy, Shepp, the number of trombonists of importance is quite small, and before the mid seventies, trombone was rarely heard in American free jazz.  A marvelous example is to be found in the Archie Shepp touring band of 1968 with both Roswell Rudd and  Grachan Moncur III kicked by the unmistakable pair of Jimmy Garrison and Beaver Harris.  Young drummer Paul Lovens was actually in the audience of the legendary Donaueschingen concert and absolutely loved what he felt and heard.  The recording of this concert (LIVE AT DONAUESCHINGEN on the SABA/MPS label) also became one staple of Paul Hubweber’s listening hours.

   The trombone became the wind instrument par excellence of the European improvised “answer” to free-jazz in some of its more original statements, and also many great pianists became very important actors in this scene.  The late Albert Mangelsdorff and Paul Rutherford, the Bauer brothers, Connie and Hannes, Radu Malfatti are familiar names but you should not forget such pioneers as Giancarlo Schiaffini, who performed with Nuova Consonanza, Willem Van Mannen, a stalwart of  the Willem Breuker Collektief, Nick Evans and Malcolm Griffiths who, with Malfatti, blew in Chris McGregor groups.  This blooming was paralleled by the uprising keyboard brotherhood of Van Hove, Schweizer, Schlippenbach, Dauner, Mengelberg, Riley, Tippett, etc….

   Born in 1951, Paul Hubweber began to freely improvise very early and to organise improvised gigs while still in his teens.  After having played guitar, drums and double bass, he went to a music shop in order to try two “serious” instruments: a bass clarinet and a trombone.  The brass clicked immediately with his mind and body and he fell in love with the “tailgate” instrument forever.  Living and working in Moers, Paul Hubweber was actually involved in the Moers festival‘s organisation – he is even credited for his technical work on the sound of an Anthony Braxton album issued by Ring Records.  At that time, he was still practicing the trombone everyday to hone his chops.  His idol, the late Albert Mangelsdorff, was a great jazz innovator praised on both sides of the Atlantic.  In the mid seventies, the Moers festival often presented great solo or duo improvised performances of trombonists of choice, and the Ring / Moers label issued some great recordings of these marvellous improvisers.  All of them are among Paul’s favourite trombone players.  Gunther Christmann had a string of very interesting albums, especially the duo with Detlev Schönenberg and his VARIO 2 with Paul Lovens, Marten Altena, John Russell land Maggie Nicols.  Paul Rutherford’ soliloquy OLD MOERS ALMANAC marked a new step after his legendary GENTLE HARM.  George Lewis, himself a Paul Rutherford fan, first gained exposed with ELEMENTS OF SURPRISE in duo with Anthony Braxton.

   During the seventies and eighties, Paul Rutherford, Gunther Christmann and Radu Malfatti specifically developed a whole new music in solo performances and group improvisations of the so-called “non-idiomatic” species.  It is remarkable that all three were intensely involved with percussionist Paul Lovens.  Since 2001, Paul Hubweber and the percussionist have made a fascinating trio with bass player John Edwards, PaPaJo.  If this moniker sounds a bit fatherly, it is no doubt that Paul’s music is deeply informed by the three elders while having developed a very personal voice and also investigated the jazz tradition.  For practicing, he plays many Mangelsdorff’s tunes, Charlie Parker standards and his own transcriptions of the Cello Suites of Johann-Sebastian Bach.  But as you can hear, his solo performances included in his own produced LÜRIX + PARANOISE and  TROMBONEOS (both on NNN) have the same feeling of freshness, innocence, invention and immediacy that permeate Paul Rutherford’s seventies recordings, and remembrances of Radu Malfatti’s air implosions with Stephan Wittwer (UND ? on FMP) and NEWS FROM THE SHED (Emanem 4121).

   Paul Hubweber plays as greatly as his elder colleagues, and his music is full of real meaning using all the possibilities deep in the logic of the instrument.  Almost in his sixties, Paul Hubweber has been a free-improvisation activist ever, fondly concerned by the values and sounds carried along the years by this way of making music.  Doing many jobs to survive, he never stopped to play and perform during decades in the relative underground of the Rhenanian improvising community, until he was fortunately noticed in the company of Paul Lovens and the late Peter Kowald some ten years ago.  Among the lifelong partners who shared his views and beliefs, you find the great double bassists Ulrich Philipp and Georg Wolf, the radical pianist Martin Theurer, percussionists Michael Vorfeld and Wolfgang Schliemann, guitarists Hainer Wörmann and  Erhard Hirt, saxophonists Georg Wissell, Dirk Marwedel, and the ever very supportive Paul Lytton.

   Quite a newcomer in the improvising scene, Austrian born pianist Philipp Zoubek shows a very strong personality and a fascinating control of the piano, surely the instrument most charged by the weight of European tradition and western musical culture.  He is living currently in Köln, and among his music partners, one can find bassist Achim Tang, trombonist Mathias Muche, Thomas Lehn, Frank Gratkowski and compatriot Franz Hauzinger.  It would be premature to try to point out the “influences” and starting points of Zoubek pianistic approach.  He is now growing in the early stages of his musical development and this young man, born in 1978, is as intelligent as his sensitivity is deep.  So that it would be shameful to create a pigeon-hole to pinpoint his work.

   Although his partner in the duo is carrying the story and problems of the improvised trombone, it is very difficult and nonsensical to locate Philipp on the map of the piano in free-improvisation.  Please forget Van Hove, Schweizer or Tippett!  For example, he certainly has a completely different view and sensitivity than those of Sophie Agnel (CAPSIZING MOMENTS Emanem 5005) or John Tilbury, who is by now all over the place.  Some writers often used Cecil Taylor as a reference point for anyone playing differently on the grand keyboard instrument.  They just showed their lack of imagination.  This music is mainly based on imagination and all the musical and instrumental skills required of someone performing piano for an hour in front of listeners, while fascinating and questioning them.  At one point, this duo can sound in a sophisticated noisy way and two minutes later, you get the very feeling of liberated jazz, even while the strings seem to be plucked and scraped.

   To my taste, this duo of Paul Hubweber and Philipp Zoubek is great as all that the likes of Parker, Bailey, Rutherford, Christmann, Van Hove, Lovens and Lytton of the world ever did, performing at their best.  May I remind everyone when Parker, Lovens, Lytton, Christmann and many others revolutionised our ideas and perceptions of musical improvisation, they were even younger than Philipp Zoubek is now (32) ?  So, don’t wait until his hair turns grey (which, I think, also applies to some other young players).
I won’t try to describe all the movements and sequences that happened in the Archiduc concert.  That music speaks for itself: listen to it!

P.S.  All our gratitude is due to Michaël Huon for being there as always, and for his appreciation of this concert.  Michaël, who has recorded many great pianists along the years from Fred Rzweski and Cecil Taylor to Mal Waldron, Veryan Weston, Fred Van Hove and Alex von Schlippenbach, and who owns his own studio with grand piano, told me that this concert is his favourite piano performance in L’Archiduc, since a fondly remembered Mal Waldron concert many years ago.

http://philipzoubek.com     www.paulhubweber.com 

pas appât  Paul Hubweber & Georg Wolf   trombone et contrebasse NurNichtNur

NurNichtNur est bien le label allemand à suivre pour qui veut se plonger dans la musique improvisée rhénane. La Rhénanie est cette région qui côtoie du Nord au Sud les frontières hollandaises, belges, françaises jusqu’à la Suisse et qui a vu grandir et se développer les Brötzmann, Kowald, Mangelsdorff, Rüdiger Carl, Paul Lovens, Hans Reichel et puis Frank Gratkowski, Georg Gräwe, Thomas Lehn etc… Cologne , Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Essen, Moers, Aachen et Baden-Baden avec ses légendaires New Jazz Meeting , mais aussi le Darmstadt des compositeurs contemporains, … Cette histoire de la free-music rhénane a entraîné une activité locale qui a permis à des personnalités comme Georg Wolf et Paul Hubweber (parmi beaucoup d’autres) de se développer. Georg Wolf est un contrebassiste qui n’a rien à envier à Joëlle Léandre ou à feu Peter Kowald. Avec son vieux camarade Ulrich Philipp, ils forment une paire unique de la contrebasse concrétisée par leur excellent CD duo « Tensid » (NurNichtNur) admirable d’écoute mutuelle, de finesse et d’invention.
Dans l’évolution de l’improvisation libre l’exploration du trombone et de la contrebasse sont intimement liés. On songe à la paire Paul Rutherford et Barry Guy au sein d’Iskra 1903 au travail conjoint de Gunther Christmann sur les deux instruments et avec Maarten Altena et Torsten Müller, à Radu Malfatti et Harry Miller, immortalisés par les albums Ogun Bracknell Breakdown et SAJ « Zwecknagel ». pas appât est bien un step by step sans appât et une merveille acoustique, inventive qui nous fait entendre le trombone et la contrebasse dans le domaine de la finesse intégrale. Bien que Paul Hubweber soit un fan inconditionnel des Roswell Rudd, Hannes Bauer, Ray Andersen, des souffleurs au jeu puissant, voire bruyant et violent, il se situe aux antipodes de ces collègues privilégiant le souci du détail, des nuances et une véritable intelligence musicale. Le clair – obscur plutôt que la rutilance. Et un vrai maître de l’instrument. Pas pour rien qu’il joue régulièrement en trio avec Paul Lovens et John Edwards (PaPaJo). . Et avec Georg Wolf au gros violon, PH  a trouvé un véritable alter – ego. Digression et épure, spontanéité et introversion, relai et colin-maillard, invitation et dérobade, dialogue et commentaire, on a là une quantité de possibilités ébauchées, reprises, évitées, développées, abandonnées, recherchées et oubliées que plusieurs réécoutes successives ne permettent pas de saisir. L’art du démontage dans l’assemblage ou d’écrire un texte avec des bribes de mots et des accents sans consonnes etc… Un labyrinthe sans fin ! Un disque à la fois éprouvette et modèle, échafaudage, champ de ruine et architecture. Remarquable !

Simple Game. Papajo : Paul Lovens/ Paul Hubweber/ John Edwards. Cadence CJR 1209   Paul Lovens : percussions , Paul Hubweber: trombone, John Edwards: contrebasse. 

Papajo: Simple Game
Simple Game : jeu simple. Une véritable simplicité anime ce trio dans une infinité de détails et de modes de jeu. Le contrebassiste John Edwards requiert souvent un profond et superbe pizzicato alors qu’il nous avait habitué à un coup d’archet frénétique (Optic avec Butcher et Gateway avec Veryan Weston). Paul Lovens diversifie sa frappe de façon toujours aussi magistrale sans recourir à ces roulements infernaux qui furent sa signature dans le trio Schlippenbach (écoutez le démentiel Hunting the Snake un enregistrement de 1975 publié par Atavistic / Unheard). Sa démesure s’est épurée et il favorise une dynamique qui permet à Paul Hubweber de faire chanter son trombone dans la nuance sans avoir à éructer. Paul Hubweber est aux antipodes des Hannes Bauer,  Alan Tomlinson et Joe Bowie : tout en finesse et avec le souci du détail. Edwards est bien le type de contrebassiste improvisateur qui nous a fait défaut pendant des décennies. Ces dernières années, il adapte si bien son jeu avec chacun de ses partenaires au point qu’on est médusé par les métamorphoses. Ici ça sonorise et ça swingue tout autant, comme dans orleans trib (18 :56). La voix du tromboniste suggère celle de feu Paul Rutherford, un compagnon de route cher au percussionniste, avant qu’un thème parkérien affleure et conduise à un matériel évoquant Radu Malfatti. Il s’ensuit un court solo épuré de Lovens qui introduit un jeu simple de vibrations qui s’éteignent dans le silence. Les jeux simples de nos trois médiums racontent des histoires improbables sans hausser le ton. La grande controle (sic ! 4 :07) donne lieu à  une diffraction des harmoniques dans le tube au moyen des lèvres et un lyrisme apaisé qui aboutit à un moment d’apesanteur. Smell it (15 :42) fait coexister les trois compères dans des vitesses et des dynamiques toujours changeantes et subtilement contrastées. Il ne s’agit pas de solos mais de jeux qui s’intègrent l’un à l’autre soniquement sans abandonner la dimension « traditionnelle » du chant et du rythme. Vers la minute 13, cela « pulse ». La manière toute naturelle avec laquelle Hubweber pose son jeu sur celui de ses deux compères fait de lui un des plus grands improvisateurs actuels au trombone. L’incroyable multiplicité des séquences, aussi diversifiées qu’elles peuvent parfois être insolites, prend bien la mesure de la conscience  qu’ont les protagonistes de la signification profonde du mot improviser : l’invention permanente et l’exigence totale. Mais en restant fidèle à un équilibre triangulaire en apparence statique et à un son caractéristique. Une manière unique et une synthèse de différentes approches font de Papajo un des meilleurs groupes actuels d’impro européenne.  Cadence avait dèjà publié un Quintet Moderne avec Lovens, Harri Sjöstrom, Phil Wachsmann, Teppo Hauta Aho et Paul Rutherford à la qualité enregistrée un peu duraille. Avec Simple Game, le label de Redwood , NY nous livre un maître achat.

signé : http://soundcloud.com/jean-michelvanschouwburg 

Paul Hubweber a fait aussi deux albums solos, sortis sous le manteau chez NurNichtNur :
Tromboneos enregistré en 2002 et Lurix and Paranoise en 1996 .

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