9 October 2018

Beating distractions


I was seriously distracted leading up to Peter Brotzmann at Cafe Oto. I was getting emails from Facebook telling me of logins to my account in Syria, I would log that access out but then I’d get another signin. It went on like this for, perhaps, 10 logins. I needed to change passwords but that required my PW and I didn’t have it with me. I got into settings, closed off some rights and sent a message to FB to suspend my account. Ten minutes later I got an email giving me direct access to change my PW. I did and the Syrian access stopped. Huge relief but it had interfered with the start of PB’s band. And that was full on, from the first notes. They were called Full Blast and they did. Just a sax trio: Peter with Marino Pliakas and Michael Wertmueller, bass and drums. I was sitting next to a bloke who had come from Cardif Wales for the night to hear them (he was going back after the gig, 3 hours by train). His description was ‘all the music you’ve ever heard played at once’. I guess it fitted. Certainly it was intense and loud. They were recording so presumably in good form, although Peter apologised for a short second set given his health. That was enough and that was a great pleasure, if that’s the word to use for a barrage interspersed with some lovely tonality. The barrage was drums with arms flailing and double kick pedal (very heavy- or metal-rock styled, I thought: quick and proficient and sweaty). Bass all chromatics up and down the neck, some regularity in that movement, some chordal plucking, some pick and hitting strings with a slide but mostly five-fingered, thumb and fingers, all repeated fast fast, occasionally with Morley pedal for volume not wah on the night. Marino had a few distortion pedals set up but he told me hadn’t used them. And Peter himself, variously on tenor and soprano, powered and unrelenting, mostly in few-bar bursts that spelt melody mutating with each burst. Sometimes some calmness that sat and spoke of melody, perhaps tradition or beauty, often against bass or no accompaniment or something gentler on drums. Then maybe to drop out leaving intense duos. One tune suggested head and development to me. Bassist Marino later disabused me of that conception. There were no charts, no preparation beyond 30 years playing together. So it went for two sets. Rabidly loud and reduced and unrelenting except when it did relent, and fast. I’d forgotten my scary FB problem (still fixed next day) and Peter had apologised for an earlier finish. But I left deeply satisfied.

PS. A few items to note. Cafe Oto is spelled with one -t-. Take care. It’s in a fascinating, alive, multicultural, poorer, northern area of London and a longish travel. It’s worth it. It’s obviously an arty area with a theatre next door and Vortex Jazz Club close by. No need to dress. And this was a heavily blokey event. Perhaps free/experimental is like that. Whatever, there were perhaps a hundred men and a decade of women. And pretty mature men at that. I guess that’s that scene. Peter told me he’d visited Australia ~6 months before (Melb/Syd) and that he’d played in Canberra 25 years before, unsuccessfully, with a promoter who thought all jazz was dixie.

Full Blast performed at Cafe Oto in Dalston, London. FB comprised Peter Brotzmann (tenor, soprano), Marino Pliakas (bass) and Michael Wertmueller (drums).

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