Random Acoustics RA 026 Stelen


Johannes Bauer, trombone; Luc Houtkamp, alto and tenor saxophone; Dieter Manderscheid, double bass; Martin Blume, drums.

1. Enchantment (27.40)
2. Stelen (02.28)
3. Vielleicht ist nichts völlig wahr, und selbst das nicht (07.33)
4. Herenboekje, berenhoekje, boerenhekje, ... (18.19)
5. Pause - oder was? (08.29)

Recorded live at LOFT, Cologne on 15 January 1999.
Cover painting (reproduced above) Stelen by Karin Kahlhofer, 1989; cover design by SteyrerRenz Visuelle Konzepte & Realisation, Munich.

From the liner notes for the CD: „STELEN“ Random Acoustic RA 026

„The members of the Quartet are some of the leading practitioners of what has become known as free music or avant garde jazz. Martin Blume, the unofficial leader of this wholly collaborative effort, is heard on percussion, laying a groundwork for the others, but even more so, communicating as a full participant, with nuance and skill. He boasts total control over his drum set, pushing, leading, and reacting to the others. Blume has played as a sideman and leader with a who’s who of the free music scene, and he has recorded a duet with saxophonist Luc Houtkamp (The Field Recordings X-OR FR 7), and as part of some remarkable groups with trombonist Johannes Bauer (AufRuhr-ART 002), pianist Georg Graewe and saxophonist John Butcher (Random Acoustics 001), and vocalist Phil Minton (Random Acoustics 008). The two horns, Dutch saxophonist Luc Houtkamp and German trombonist Johannes Bauer, have distinguished themselves as two of the leading exponents of modern improvisation. Houtkamp sports an entirely original technique that combines extraordinary control with awesome skill to chirp, sing, nudge, squeak, caress, and even disturb. Widely recorded on a series of sensational recordings on the small Dutch X-OR label, Houtkamp is fast being recognized for what he is: A giant of the sax. Trombonist Johannes Bauer also maps a unique technique, applying sophisticated modern ways to old-fashioned characteristics of his horn. Bauer slurps, trills, growls, and even speaks through brass with dizzying effects to reinvent a vocabulary of the moment that is as spectacular as it is individualized. He cajoles sounds not often heard from his instrument, and he combines these with mutes, humor, and consummate musicianship. The last member of the Quartet, bassist Dieter Manderscheid, must have fingers of steel to keep up with the pace rendered here. Well known in Germany, Manderscheid is establishing a worldwide reputation with performances in Finland, India, the United States, and Canada. His stunning use of the bow and powerful rapid strings of notes add depth and motion to the recording. Listen to the sounds! They never stand still: They dance with joy de vivre, affirming life, with all its complexities and inconsistencies. The stellar beauty of the music lies in the order of the canvas, with richly, and even densely painted lines intersecting, sparring, bouncing off one another. Listen to it again and again. Each time new wonders emerge, new perspectives peer through the cracks, new delights peek around uncharted corners. This is Music of the Moment, yes. But it is more than that. Through the assemblage of disparate elements is a unity that transcends its time, that builds a tower of consequences, a field of dreams, a monument to wonder. The Quartet succeeds in its act of being, its existential affirmation of the here and now. Crack its code, and discover its magic. It is not easy music to which to become accustomed: Don’t give in to impulse; just patiently persevere. Like anything worthwhile, the rewards are there.“

Steven A Loewy lives in Washington, D.C. and writes for Cadence, Coda, and The All-Music Guide to Jazz.

Luc Houtkamp’s edgy wailing and guttural squalls on alto and tenor saxophones are matched in intensity by Johannes Bauer`s trombone, Dieter Manderscheid’s double bass and Martin Blume`s drums. There are sparse, even introspective passages, but at it`s most restrained the music declares ist resilence rather than delicacy. An anstringent performance; tough, lean and effective, without ornament."
Julian Cowley, The WIRE, 1/2001

"The quartet that calls itself FOURinONE consipres in Stelen in the creation of a monster of a remarkably commanding presence.... The quartet's name nicely characterizes a four-in-one sensibility....FOURinONE reminds me of the time in as artful a fashion as anything I've heard on recording. Intemperate, yes, mad, no doubt, but subtle too, and that's the difference. The sedate moments shine every bit as brightly as do the stampedes. These gents make music at an extraordinarily high level of competence and inspiration.“
Scardanelli`s Jazz Motley, La Folia 3/2

"Made up of three virtuoso Germans and a dedicated Dutchman, all of this more than 65 minute CD shows how well the products of four top-flight improvisers can blend together into a coherent whole.While each performer is a virtuoso able to push his instrument to its perceived limits -- and beyond -- the organization and timing of the combo is such that when needed they can all stop on a dime, or maybe that should be a mark or a guilder....Coming together like a continental Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, drummer Martin Blume and bassist Dieter Manderscheid ....construct a perfect freebop pattern in the background without detracting from the soloists.“
Jazzweekly, Ken Waxman (