*2023 stock* This live recording from a 1996 Austrian music festival is a powerful interaction of three musicians from different countries, each of whom have extraordinary improvisational abilities and deep, grounded technique. A somewhat unusual instrumentation is heard from this free jazz trio: German saxophonist Peter Brotzmann also performs on e-flat clarinet and tarogato (a Hungarian single-reed woodwind), American percussionist Hamid Drake plays a drum kit, a frame drum, and tablas, and Moroccan master musician ("maleem") Mahmoud Gania plays the guembri, a three-chord lute drum with a low register. The concert is broken up into three parts, totaling over an hour's worth of a set that is "meditative" in the ecstatic-trance sense of the word, meaning that the music's energy level has a natural ebb and flow.
This current results in an outside-of-time atmosphere that's meditative even while remaining very musically active. The album opens with Gania's guembri playing, and Brotzmann and Drake soon come in, picking up a conversation midway (there are no buffering introductions with Brotzmann). The guembri is used in rituals by Gnaoua people to call in supernatural beings to possess believers, and European-oriented ears may find Brotzmann's thickly passionate horn to be the very sound of possession. Regardless, this recording captures a performance that really cooks! As a warning, it should be noted that the sound quality will leave audiophiles unhappy: There are moments when Brotzmann apparently moves away from the mic, and when Gania's vocal chants have a shifting sound quality. The music, however, outweighs those concerns. These three musicians come together in a successful melding of musical backgrounds. The result is a unified, energetic, affecting, free performance.