Talk about a power trio: this week at the Chapel, a multi-generational ensemble brings together three of the most influential and prolific musicians from jazz’s raucous left field, players whose presence together on a bandstand virtually guarantees a fiery communion. They’ve all collaborated widely over the years in various contexts, but are heard far too infrequently in the Bay Area.
At 74, German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann is the band’s elder statesman, a rough-and-tumble improviser whose gutbucket tone, fierce energy and pointillist sensibility have defined one school of European free jazz since his epochal 1968 octet album Machine Gun. Focusing on tenor sax, clarinet and the keening Hungarian single-reed taragato, he’s recorded a vast number of albums over the years with many of Europe’s greatest free improvisers, while inspiring more recent generations of American musicians, particularly on Chicago’s talent-bristling scene. After a long break from the Bay Area, Brötzmann performed a sold-out, standing-room-only date at the Center for New Music in 2013; this is his first area show since.
New York bassist William Parker, 63, is the fulcrum of the free-jazz universe, a role formalized as the founder and guiding spirit of New York’s annual Vision Festival. Whether plucking or bowing the bass, he’s a galvanizing musician who gives shape to a performance with his thick and utterly personal textural palette. And Chicago drummer Hamid Drake, 59, is a protean force who got his start with pioneering avant-garde players like trumpeter Don Cherry and tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson. Immensely resourceful and widely traveled, he was a founding member of Gambian-born kora master Foday Musa Suso’s Mandingo Griot Society.
The three giants have performed and recorded together extensively over the years, including in Brötzmann’s Die Like A Dog Quartet (with trumpeter Toshinori Kondo), a band the saxophonist initially assembled to explore the legacy of Albert Ayler. More recently, Parker, Drake and Brötzmann documented their pulverizing triumvirate on Never Too Late But Always Early (Eremite), a live double album dedicated to the great German bassist Peter Kowald, who had been the saxophonist’s frequent partner in exploration. A formidable Bay Area trio featuring saxophonist Patrick Wolff, bassist Eric Markowitz and drummer Hamir Atwal open the show.