September 7, 2010

Brötzmann tentet revisited

There's a new article on All About Jazz about Brötzmann's Chicago tentet, where Lloyd Peterson writes things like this:

Importantly, Peter Brotzmann has a phenomenal capacity to express astounding complex emotions through sound, and being able to understand music at this level is fundamentally about listening. He plays each note and each sound as if it is the last time it is to be performed. And though it is impossible to hear all things as there are always more ways to listen and more areas of sound to discover, it ultimately depends on your attitude and how much you think you understand at every instant you stop and listen.
Why can't people be a bit more specific? The article is spotted with rather abstract words signifying big concepts: "beauty", "harmony", "genius", "phenomenal", "energy". Some sentences sound certainly interesting and beautiful in themselves: "The creativity and character of the members of the Tentet mirror the global potentialities in music and life." But then it often goes right into the esoteric: "However, it is my sincere hope that he understands that every note and every emotion that he gives life, is a mirror of the human soul that creates a bridge to the spiritual universe." - Or: "Every note and every sound is unique in its own way at the moment of its inception but those of Brotzmann live on the edge between the known and the unknown and are able to elevate us to another realm of creativity."
Well then maybe that was my problem with the Brötzmann Tentet in Moers? Is it because I'm a non-spiritual person? Is it because even though I've been searching a bit, I couldn't find God? Well then, it cannot be helped. (Though I absolutely feel a sense of elevation when listening to Albert Ayler and "A Love Supreme", so maybe my soul isn't entirely lost yet.)
Can anybody be a bit more specific please? Can anybody describe the beauty, the depth and the spirituality of this music in a more detailed way? I'm aware of the renaissance of secret societies especially in jazz music (tonight there'll be a "Secret Society of Internet Jazzers" be playing in Berkeley), yet is it really necessary for me to become a kind of Rosicrucean or Free Mason to understand it?
Articles like that of Lloyd Peterson don't say anything at all.


david_grundy said...

You're absolutely right - and, in any case, I always thought that Brotzmann came more from a Fluxus/Socialist/Anarchist place than from a 'spiritual' place, in contrast with Ayler or Pharoah Sanders; his melodic touchstones would seem to be Brecht/Eisler songs (e.g. rather than African-American spirituals or 'world music'. Of course, in the end, and despite Amiri Baraka's comments in his new book of essays, 'Digging', the emotional effect of listening to Ayler, Sanders, and Brotzmann is not all that dissimilar: it can't just be reduced to vague aphorisms about 'spirituality'.

centrifuge said...

why not?

both of you guys are very convinced that the world is a non-spiritual place, then - and that view is the "official" one which all educated westerners are required to sign up to these days... doesn't make it correct, unfortunately.

i didn't find the quoted sections of the article meaningless at all - it rather vividly describes one listener's responses to the music, and his view as to why the music is worthwhile and important. if the world of creative music is to be governed by the same right-brain, logic-based it-doesn't-exist-if-i-can't-smack-it-on-the-head attitudes that prevail elsewhere, what hope for humanity? not much, i would suggest :(

(before you ask: no, i am not religious... i do have spiritual views, on the other hand... and no, i am not much inclined to expound on them here!)

Spring Day said...

Centrifuge, it's so interesting, your comments are always coming in the right moment and touch the right strings.
Just today I received an e-mail from Classics Online, saying:

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In spite of all my criticism of Brötzmann's music here on this blog, I purchased the above mentioned album of the Chicago Tentet recently and was overwhelmed. I found it wonderful, just wonderful. (And what I had to say about it is not a bit less formulaic than the Allaboutjazz reviewer whom I criticized... Will post this short thing here on the blog).

centrifuge said...

ps oh yeah i meant left brain of course (getting confused with left hand in other model!)

centrifuge said...

anyway... erm... i think we got this one sorted out too

- david, btw if you're reading... i will drop you a line one of these days i'm sure :) as you can see i haven't been able to do much writing (s'prise)

Anonymous said...

Those that assess things from the right side of the brain always need logic. But the best art isn't even logical because it expresses something that has not even been expressed yet. Those that have always dismissed all of histories greatests works before they were accepted always came fron the side of logic. That's where they form their arguments. But most great artists cannot even explain their own art form but yet there are those that think they know more about it than the artist that breathed it, that lived it. Face it, those that cannot understand someone's artistic expression have to demean it, criticize it or try to kill it. Otherwise, they have to accept a shortcoming within themselves and God know's, that's not going to happen. Get over yourselves, it is impossible to understand everything so quit trying to diminish artistic expression that you don't understand. You just make yourself look foolish and less knowledgable 5han you really might be. And lastly, spirituality in music has nothing to do with religion. We simply do not have the words in the english language that can express this level of creativity that is available in the language of parts of India. Improvisation in India goes back 4000 years and Peter expresses from this place. Just because you don't like it or understand it doesn't make it less important. It's the same as not liking a people and their culture just because you don't agree with them based upon your own reference points. Well guess what, your reference points only make up a very small part of the universal reality. You are only showing your short sightedness and ignorance. But to each their own.