Nils Wogram & Konrad Bauer: Serious Fun
Though the instrumentation on this disc may initially seem striking, the antecedent for tandem trombone improvisation was actually set way back in the Bop era by J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding. Admittedly those two doyens of the jazz trombone never operated out of reach of a rhythm section and their material was of a far less free-form nature, but the spirit remains the same across the styles and the years. The free improvisatory possibilities of the instrument have since been explored in the interim by players such as Paul Rutherford (check The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeois Emanem) and a handful of noteworthy others. Konrad Bauer himself is no stranger to working a front-line with another trombone. Just reference the blinding virtuosity of his work with his brother Johannes in the free-improv quartet Doppel-Moppel if you doubt the veracity of my claim. Nils Wogram comes equally well-equipped and on this unabashed celebration of the spontaneous slide tectonics the pair sets about demolishing preconceived limitations of their horns in rapid sequence.
Track demarcations are of secondary importance as each improvisation blends smoothly into the next creating the feeling of one continuous extended performance. As the titles may suggest there’s a healthy dose of humor injected into the proceedings, which carries through in the incredible way in which the player’s presage each other’s moves. Each man alternates between lead and support and the harmonic understanding between the two is downright supernatural. What’s even more impressive they never resort to the self-absorbed flatulence so often indicative of free improvisation on trombone. The players enunciate every note and tone with clarity and precision while a still retaining a startling array of extended techniques and effects. On “Standing In the Sitting Room” they seem to anticipate and react to the constantly shifting terrain with a speed and versatility that is supersonic in execution. “The Trail” finds them negotiating a winding harmonic path through a thicket of gorgeously voiced tonal counterpoint. If there’s one thing these duets prove beyond reasonable doubt it’s that any instrument no matter its shape, size or reputation has it’s virtuosos. As its title so succinctly implies this disc is some serious fun from start to finish.
Tracks:Good Morning Folks/ Right In Your Face/ Are You Shy?/ Wild Turkey/ Standing In the Sitting Room/ Fat Free/ The Trail/ More Pie!/ Cookies For the Listener/ The Hummingbird/ Don’t Move/ The No No/ Northern Lights/ Industrial/ The Three Legged Cat/ Serious Fun.
Players:Nils Wogram- trombone; Konrad Bauer- trombone.
Recorded: September 12 & 13, 1999, Rossie, NY.