June 24, 2024


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CD review: Frank Paul Schubert, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Martin Blume – Forge 2020: Video, CD covers

«Forge» is a meeting between three heavyweights of the German free-improv scene. Pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, 82 years old, belongs to the legendary, pioneer generation of free improvisers in Europe. Sax player Frank Paul Schubert and drummer Martin Blume are a generation younger. Schubert and von Schlippenbach recorded before («Red Dhal Sextet», FMR, 2013, «Intricacies», NoBusiness, 2015) and recently Schubert worked together with Blume («Spindrift», Leo, 2020). This trio has performed sporadically in recent years, before «Forge» was recorded live at the Kunstmuseum during the Ruhr Jazz Festival, Bochum, in April 2019, and continues to perform today.

The performance 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 of von Schlippenbach, Schubert, and Blume is immediately deconstructed, reconstructed, and morphed into something else before it is abandoned as the trio searches the next challenge. Later, von Schlippenbach introduces a lyrical vein spiced with brief quotes from Thelonius Monk songbook and changes the course of the improvisation to a looser and more subtle one, triggering imaginative comments from Schubert and Blume, both are also well-versed in Monk work, but opt for a tighter and faster rhythmic dialog. Again, von 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. Von Schlippenbach takes the lead once more and sets an emotional atmosphere that relies on Monk-ish fragments and concludes this stormy improvisation.

The second, shorter «forgin the Work» relies more on Monk-ish quotes but incorporates these fragmented, cyclical quotes into the fast-shifting and free-associative interplay of Schlippenbach, Schubert, and Blume. This trio titled one of its earlier performances as «Inner and Outer Spaces». This title captures faithfully its aesthetics. Paying homage to the inner, sacred legacy of jazz, but at the same time taking this essential legacy to a challenging tour in outer territories.

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.

1. Merge 47:30
2. Forgin The Work 6:47

Frank Paul Schubert – alto, soprano saxophone
Alexander von Schlippenbach – piano
Martin Blume – drums

Forge | Frank Schubert, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Martin Blume |  Relative Pitch Records

Forge | Frank Schubert, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Martin Blume |  Relative Pitch Records

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