Label: BVHAAST Records – BVHAAST 9906
Format: CD, Album; Country: Netherlands - Released: 1999
Style: Free Improvisation, Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Tracks 1, 2 - Recorded live, 5.4.1998 at Lokaal 01 in Breda
Tracks 3, 5 - Recorded live, 2.4.1998 at BIM-huis, Amsterdam
Track 4 - Recorded live, 3.4.1998 at Paradox in Tilburg
Mastered By, Edited By – Gilius Van Bergeijk (tracks: 4), Klaas Hekman (tracks: 1 to 5), Marc Schots (tracks: 1 to 5)
Recorded By – Daan Van West (tracks: 1, 2), Guus Hoevenaars (tracks: 3, 4, 5), Marc Schots (tracks: 1 to 5)
Yes, this is art. No, it's not for everybody, but it is for those who think they have heard all there is to hear when it comes to improvisation.
Bass Saxophone – Klaas Hekman
Double Bass – Hideji Taninaka, Wilbert De Joode, William Parker
Guitar – Derek Bailey (tracks: 3, 4, 5)
Piano – Chris Burn (tracks: 1, 2)
Conductor — Gilius van Bergeijk
Intermission is the unit consisting of double bassists William Parker, Wilbert de Joode, and Hideji Taninaka and bass saxophonist Klaas Hekman. The five improvisations here, all recorded in 1998, are based on the assumption of the non-directionality of the bass -- in strong or reed -- an instrument that normally calls for no response. It is non-directional because its lower frequency acts differently, in that its upper register and partials, therefore spreading across the music spectrum instead of lying at one and or the other. These three bassists and Hekman have employed improvisers Derek Bailey and Chris Burn, and conductor Gilius van Bergeijk, to help them explore the notion that the bass, when it calls, goes unanswered in tonal space. Is this a hypothesis or is it simply musical fact? The music on this disc then, comes from the mouth(s) of the questioner(s). Their voices, though not unheard, would go unheeded if this were true. What proves to be the case is that the assumption is fiction. It is the questioner who sets in motion not only what will be answered but how. In this manner, Intermission is as much a linguistic construct as a musical one. The resultant music, no matter the guest, is under the ground music, absent of light, full of dense darkness and blind passageways that lead ever further into the conical center of a modal apparatus so unnerving that it's almost unbearable to listen to. Yes, this is art. No, it's not for everybody, but it is for those who think they have heard all there is to hear when it comes to improvisation. There is nothing like this in the world. Go ahead, listen to it for days and weeks and months, then sell your car and your house for more money to have the time to spend in a hotel room and listen some more. Memorize its every nuance and bowed note. No matter how long you probe this dark lovely monster, you will never fathom its question, let alone its answer. (By Thom Jurek)
The quartet Intermission is conceptually severe: three contrabasses and organizer Klaas Hekman's bass saxophone. They get as low to the ground as any band anywhere. Rumbling underground moans unfold without haste, like a tape of Ligeti strings played at the wrong speed.
"Intermission" "pauze" was Duke Ellington's deprecatory slang for "bass solo," but the band avoids jazzy gestures: no 4/4 bass walking tonight. By conscious choice, it's a music of texture more than form, a risky business.
Sometimes pieces start frenetically and then drain of energy, musical entropy.
For their third Dutch tourneé, dubbed "Unanswered Questions," Intermission wrecks its own conceptual purity by inviting in polar opposites: English guitarist Derek Bailey, crusader for totally unfettered improvisation, and Hague composer Gilius van Bergeijk, in whose pieces each moment may address an ultimate goal. Both were excellent choices.
Bailey, guest on most of the program, is even more committed to free improvisation than they are. The "compositions" Intermission's members contribute are less thematic material than points of departure, setting them loose in one or another sonic area.
One piece started with three arco basses, another all pizzicato, to give a simple example; on another, Hekman blew into bass sax with trumpet embouchure, without reed or mouthpiece, getting a wistful sound like Israeli shofar or bass flute.
But even such rudimentary structure is too much for Bailey, who prefers to wing it. On first hearing, he sounds like he's splintering his amplified hollow body guitar into bits. He likes small sounds: ringing harmonics shaped with a volume pedal, rude chords swept away as soon as they're voiced. (Rejecting conventional style, Bailey in effect created a new style, imitated by guitarists around the world.) His sparse, spiky, sometimes high pitched pointillism is ready made contrast to what Intermission plays, but he is instinctive contrapuntist in any setting. Confronted with Intermission's own avoidance of form, at one point in Dodorama this anti composer fell into a rising and falling two chord sequence, just to go against the grain. (In Dordrecht and Breda, he'll be replaced by English pianist Chris Burn, an interpreter turned improviser, said to favour a Bailey like approach.)
For all his unorthodox sounds, in ensemble Bailey is often an incisive rhythm guitarist, booting the other players along. Playing duos with Han Bennink for 30 years hasn't hurt his timing. Indeed, he often favors a percussive attack, as do Zaans bassist Wilbert de Joode and his New York alter ego William Parker. For that matter, Hekman gets brushes on snare drum effects, blowing air through his mouthpiece in rhythm, a Ben Webster technique used to very different effect. (Bassist Hideji Taninaka, another New Yorker, is the band's least assertive presence.)
As composer, Gilius van Bergeijk is a sardonic deconstructionist by inclination, but his Omaggio a Pasolini inspired by the filmmaker's use of montage, the composer says put him at the service of the basic quartet, presenting them with a series of taped, distortion laden episodes they might improvise with, or against, or leave to sound on their own. The players let a loud noisy sequence drown them out, entered into quasi dialogue with the more spare passages, and blended bowed harmonics with high whirly or low grumbly bits, till you can't tell if a sound was live or taped.
The shifting focus of Pasolini 's montage led them from one strategy or textural area to another faster than they go on their own, giving them a sense of direction the open improvising sometimes lacks. The benefits were immediate.
The following, final quintet improvisation was the briskest, most finely detailed, most attractively shaped of the evening the fullest realization of the unit's capabilities with even Bailey consciously or unconsciously echoing sounds from van Bergeijk's tape.
_ By KEVIN WHITEHEAD
(Dodorama, Rotterdam, April 1998)
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