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«Forge» is a meeting between three heavyweights of the German free-improv scene. Pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach belongs to the legendary, pioneer generation of free improvisers in Europe. The recording begins with the 48-minutes of «Merge» where von Schlippenbach, Schubert, and Blume keep exchanging ideas in an urgent, powerful, and totally democratic manner. The music flows in a strong, free-associative stream, and each gesture is immediately deconstructed, reconstructed, and morphed into something else before it is abandoned as the trio searches the next challenge. Schlippenbach introduces a lyrical
vein spiced with brief quotes from Thelonius Monk and changes the course of the improvisation to a looser and more subtle one, triggering imaginative comments from Schubert and Blume, then Schlippenbach introduces a gentle, melodic theme and instantly Schubert and Blume turn the interplay into a sparse, chamber one, soon to be transformed into a dense and explosive mode, led by Schubert who employs circular breathing techniques. Schlippenbach takes the lead once more and sets an emotional atmosphere that relies on Monk-ish fragments and concludes this stormy improvisation. Eyal Hareuveni...more
On Forge’s two tracks, Merge and Forgin the Work, Schubert swings from colorful sound sheets, to swaggering melodies, to expressionistic abstractions and offers formidable counterparts to Schlippenbach’s vacillations between classical romanticism and cubist amelodicism. Blume, meanwhile, finds his way to unique time-keeping, riding the cymbals and frequently sputtering on the bass drum and snare, but never quite falling into the bebop rhythms with which he so playfully flirts. In doing so, he creates a sense of billowing kineticism in the more energetic movements, and endless rummaging for the perfect clicks and clacks in the more spacious ones. At points, as with the classic trio, the three musicians’ lines entangle like a complex and irregular Nordic interweave. At others, Schlippenbach, or Schubert, or Blume deviates, and drives his bandmates into realms yet unexplored.
Most exciting about this album is the balance between Schubert’s and Blume’s tendencies toward jazz melodies and free jazz cacophony and Schlippenbach’s constant pull towards blockier constructions more common to the virtuosic classical vanguard. This contrast leads to diverging paths, an expanding and contraction of musical directions, and a truly compelling knotting that stylistic purity or an overwrought singlemindedness would simply not allow. It is, in other words, a group effort, and one which rewards the listener with almost an hour of expert improvisation that creates moments of clangorous exuberance, curious muffled clatter, and even enlightened serenity, when everything about this alloyed trio and this album just makes sense. Nick Ostrum
The trio is comprised of legend and the doyen of improvised music and free jazz: the pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. The term "accompaniment" is rather unsuitable for the trio: Frank Paul Schubert on alto and soprano saxophone and Martin Blume on drums, act as equal partners. All trio members at ear level are the source of ideas and impulses, their interplay is a subtle trialogue, for successful listening and picking up on musical elements that are woven into a coherent spontaneous opus.
released October 16, 2020
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Frank Paul Schubert
Piano – Alexander von Schlippenbach
Drums – Martin Blume
I like free jazz but I'm not familiar with many artists in the genre and Ahmed Abdul-Malik is a refreshing discovery. This jam is wild and all over the place. What I like the most about it is the pianist is not afraid to be brutal with the piano. Most piano playing I have been exposed to potray it as a mild instrument and this release proves how powerful and aggressive piano can be. Now I am off to hunt down and explore Malik's other musical offerings. Nuclear Distortion