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Alexander Von Schlippenbach Trio Winterreise Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

This album is the sound of three players who know each other’s playing inside out...

John Eyles 2007

Alexander von Schlippenbach, Evan Parker and Paul Lovens have been playing as a trio for well over thirty years now; down the years they have produced a high proportion of classic albums (Pakistani Pomade, Elf Bagatellen, Swinging the Bim…). This release shows every sign of joining that list. It features two extended pieces recorded at The Loft in Cologne in December 2004 and 2005. The dates are significant, as they fall in the trio’s annual winter tour of northern Europe. The threesome does the whole tour – about 3000 miles – by car, eating and drinking well along the way. In the car, they listen to such vintage jazz as Dizzy, Sonny or Freddie Redd. The trio’s jazz is freer than that, but it is free jazz and proud of the fact.

“Winterreise 1” (from 2005) opens tentatively, not sounding like free jazz, but far more like improv in which the players politely circle each other with no-one prepared to be presumptuous. However, within a couple of minutes, it gathers momentum – mutually negotiated rather than instigated by any one of the three – and we are propelled into an unbroken forty-six minutes of simply thrilling jazz. There are extended solo passages for Parker and for Schlippenbach, and several duos for each with Lovens. But it is the sections when all three play together that repeatedly grab the attention. There are countless two- and three-way dialogues, as first one player then another takes the initiative and drives the music forward, forming an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of sound.

“Winterreise 2” is a more modest piece, understated by comparison. Fully the first ten of its twenty minutes seem to be a prolonged intro, after which it gathers pace and fire. If Parker dominates the preceding track, Schlippenbach is the driving force here, pouring out a torrent of ideas at lightning speed. His closing duo with Lovens is as exciting a piano-drums pairing as you could hope to hear.

This album is the sound of three players who know each other’s playing inside out, having fun together, relaxed in the knowledge that they are playing with the best.

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