Thursday, May 9, 2013


Label: Nuscope Recordings – nuscope CD 1002 
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: 1998 
Style: Free Improvisation, Free Jazz
Recorded in Cologne, Germany on March 15 and 16, 1995 at the LOFT.
Front cover (reproduced above) ceramics by – Marcio Mattos
Producer and Graphic Design by – Russell Summers
Recorded by, Mastered by – Ansgar Ballhorn

Georg Gräwe – Hamburg Steinway D piano
Marcio Mattos – acoustic bass
Michael Vatcher – drums, percussion

"So good to finally see a new American label, run by journalist & friend from Victo fest-Russ Summers, releasing a CD by the cream of European improv-an incredible trio with heavy credentials and the magic to pull it off so successfully. Outstanding pianist-Mr. Graewe has been paving the way for meetings like this to happen by living in Chicago and interacting with its healthy scene for improvisers. His large GrubenKlangOrchestra were a revelation at the old Knit-sitting in a circle in the audience, so the audience felt like it was part of the piece. Bassist-Marcio Mattos-is another contender for free/Euro acoustic storm of sounds, he has played with Evan Parker, Keith Tippett, Elton Dean and Derek Bailey. The ever-marvelous drummer-Michael Vatcher is based in Amsterdam, he has knocked me out on various gigs and recordings-Zorn's Spy Vs. Spy band, the Maarten Altena Ensemble and Tom Cora's The Roof! This is an all powerful improv trio-each one an equal explorer-as secrets unfold- illuminating the depths. Sublime, lines spinning, spilling, slow rocking waves of notes, delicate fragments to vast towers, three masters painting the environment. The crisp and clear recording, as well as the austere grey kettle on the cover, show the release to be well thought out all round. Brilliant playing throughout!"  

Here, we celebrate the first of 2 releases on the newly formed NUSCOPE record label. NUSCOPE records dutifully conveys the flavor of modern improvised jazz with smart packaging, photos of modern artwork gracing the CD inserts and superior audiophile sound quality.

Veteran modern jazz pianist Georg Graewe aligns himself with London based Marcio Mattos (bass) and American drummer Michael Vatcher. “ Subsymbolism ” was originally intended to be a series of Monk interpretations but traversed a different path ultimately evolving into free improvisational performances. Graewe, Mattos and Vatcher have produced a winner! Colorful, spacious, intense and full of depth, Subsymbolism is a mighty foray into modern improvised jazz. “ Region BQ II ” finds Pianist; Graewe experimenting with unconventional phrasing while bassist Mattos compliments with sensational walking bass lines which cover the full spectrum of the instruments capabilities. Here, drummer Vatcher puts on a drum clinic featuring crisp multi-textured snare drum work. Vatcher fluctuates behind his kit, employing rimshots, delicate cymbal work, odd meter rhythms but never deviates from the explosive pulse of Mattos ’ pivotal bass structure. Mattos is the glue that bonds Graewe and Vatcher. Despite the “ free ” motifs, there is a strong suggestion of rhythmic cohesiveness throughout this recording. “ Region BQ II ” serves a s prime example of the group ’ s frequent tempo changes that evolve in a seamless fashion. “ Allures ” teases at first with a few grandiose chords from Graewe but quickly develops into a call and response exercise between the pianist and Vatcher. “ Allures ” evokes images of a lover ’ s quarrel. Vatcher often matches Graewe in a seemingly argumentative dialogue. The pace accelerates into a furious tirade of perpetual motion. “ Stream ” as the title may implicate takes the listener down a winding path that initially reminded this reviewer of Keith Jarrett ’ s acclaimed “ Standards Trio ” ; however, the pianist raises the intensity several notches augmented by a supercharged rhythm section, not to mention an exhilarating polyrhythmic drum solo by Vatcher. “

Subsymbolism ” is an exquisite work that breathes new life into the current state of modern improvised jazz. The tonal quality, performances and top-notch production are superb. A world class effort that challenges perceptions of what jazz should be. Highly Recommended.

_ By GLENN ASTARITA, Published: January 1, 1999 (AAJ)

Links in Comments!


  1. GEORG GRAEWE (GRÄWE) with MARCIO MATTOS and MICHAEL VATCHER – Subsymbolism (1998)