The now-defunct jazz blog Destination: Out has the exclusive license to sell music from the German label FMP (Free Music Production) on Bandcamp. They’ve done a great job of curating the catalog, too, unearthing numerous titles that have been out of print forever, and in some cases never available on CD. Earlier this year they reissued Cecil Taylor‘s mammoth In Berlin ’88 set, and now they’ve dug up another plus-sized treasure: the three-LP compilation For Example.
For Example was originally released in December 1978. The first disc was devoted to solo performances, the second to small groups (nothing larger than a quintet), and the third to large ensembles. All the material is otherwise unavailable, and the vast majority of it is blazingly awesome.
The first album contains eight tracks, performed by (in order) Steve Lacy on soprano saxophone, Paul Rutherford on trombone, Hans Reichel on guitar, Tristan Honsinger on cello, Fred Van Hove on piano, Derek Bailey on guitar, Albert Mangelsdorff on trombone, and Johnny Dyani on upright bass. Solo improv can be rough going at times, but there’s some terrific material here, all of it highly individualistic; the average listener would be hard-pressed to accept that Reichel and Bailey were playing the same instrument, so far apart are their two approaches and techniques. (Honestly, Reichel sounds like he’s playing small cymbals half the time.) Similarly, Rutherford and Mangelsdorff’s tracks couldn’t be more different; the former man offers emotive blats and slaps at a nearby piano, recalling, of all things, Charles Mingus‘s “The Clown,” while the latter performs a puffy, quick-stepping piece that sounds like a child singing a song to itself. Derek Bailey sounds like Derek Bailey, as always; Steve Lacy is a thoughtful and inspired improviser, despite his insistence on playing the loathsome soprano saxophone; Van Hove, Honsinger, and Dyani are all great, too. The only thing missing is a drum solo (from Han Bennink, perhaps) to give a fairly complete view of the FMP world of improvised music in the late ’60s and mid ’70s.
The second disc contains only five tracks, some of which are quite lengthy. The groups showcased include the Schlippenbach Trio (Alexander von Schlippenbach on piano, Evan Parker on soprano and tenor saxophones, Paul Lovens on drums), Peter Brötzmann‘s quartet with Mangelsdorff, Van Hove and Bennink (the same group discussed here), saxophonist Frank Wright‘s quartet with pianist Bobby Few, bassist Alan Silva, and drummer Muhammad Ali (this group was also known as Center of the World), and the Irène Schweizer/Rüdiger Carl quartet (Schweizer on piano, Carl on tenor sax, Arjen Gorter on bass, Heinrich Hock on drums).
The Schlippenbach Trio start out headlong and convulsive, before settling down slightly; Parker’s solos are fierce and ear-sanding, even as von Schlippenbach’s piano remains almost bluesy behind him. Brötzmann plays a bass saxophone with his group, sounding like a moody dinosaur, as the other three (Mangelsdorff enters late) create a cocktail jazz/Dada clatter. The Frank Wright piece isn’t as furious as most of their work—Bobby Few‘s gospelized piano is tamped down somewhat as the saxophonist unleashes long, Albert Ayler-style screams.
The final disc in the set features three well-known large ensembles—the Willem Breuker Orchestra, the Globe Unity Orchestra, and the ICP Tentet—more or less doing what they do. It’s all good stuff, but the most fascinating piece comes from the least well-known group, Vinko Globokar & Brass. That unit includes 11 trombonists, the leader among them, as well as a French horn and a tuba, and its 12-minute piece, “La Ronde,” is as overpowering a sensory experience as that information implies.
The original 3LP version of For Example, long out of print and never available on CD, included a 138-page book with photos, essays, discographical information, and more. Though the book is included as a PDF, this digital edition puts the focus on the music, obviously—as it should be. It’s a mega-dose of thrilling sounds from legendary performers, and well worth any avant-jazz fan’s time and money.
Stream the set via Bandcamp: