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Peter Brötzmann - More Nipples

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Artist: Peter Brötzmann

Album: More Nipples

Label: Unheard Music Series

Review date: Jul. 21, 2003

White Hot Focus

One of the most widely celebrated releases from Atavistic’s marvelous, manna-from-heaven Unheard Music Series was 2000’s Nipples, comprised of two brief (but powerful) tracks from Peter Brötzmann’s Quartet and Sextet. From April 1969, the tracks featured Brötz with pianist Fred Van Hove, drummer Han Bennink (who, with the leader and Van Hove, would go on to form a hell-raising trio), saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Buschi Niebergall, and guitarist Derek Bailey. Here, on the not so creatively titled follow-up, UMS curator John Corbett and Jost Gebers (founder of the storied FMP label, which originally released many of the crucial documents) found several tracks from the same session. What a discovery!

At 40 minutes, these three tracks are longer than the original release and additionally they reveal new pleasures from this early moment in the history of European free improvisation. Those expecting the disc to open with Brötz unleashing the fires of saxophonic hell are in for a surprise as Bailey and Van Hove scrabble amid an almost delicate clatter generated by Bennink and Niebergall. Hearing Bailey muscle it out with a rhythm section is one of the greatest delights of this release, particularly since the guitarist has since become ever more resolute in his tenacious hewing to his own practice and his own muse, regardless of situation or fellows (and to boot, he’s a lot more audible on this sequel than on the original). On this piece ("More Nipples," which is technically an alternate take to "Nipples" from the first release) his arch musings are soon bowled over by Niebergall’s ferocious playing, which goads Bennink and Van Hove into some seriously fiery work. Say what you want about how the early European players have settled into a semi-predictable musical space – and there’s certainly an argument to be made – but this stuff sounds raw, free, and glorious.

It takes nearly 10 minutes until the saxophones enter, and the interplay between Bailey and the horns is exhilarating. There’s a surprising amount of space and restraint in this piece as the second two pieces ("Fiddle Faddle" and "Fat Man Walks") are without Bailey and Parker. The quartet interaction is intense, with a white hot focus that – to my ears anyway – is at times lacking on the blistering sides cut by the Brötzmann/Van Hove/Bennink trio (which yield different, more cathartic pleasures). Fear not, though, as there’s some great howling towards the end of "Fiddle Faddle." Perhaps wildest of all is the gospel/township opening to "Fat Man Walks," a kind of mutated and caustic Abdullah Ibrahim knockoff. Weird! They pummel the riff into submission, Brötz shrieks unaccompanied for a couple minutes, then they dispatch with the tune just like that. This Nipple is just as essential as the first volume.

By Jason Bivins

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