Live in Prague 2017

Houtkamp - Beresford - Blume at Alternativa Festival in Prague, CZ,
8 November 2017

released December 26, 2017

Luc Houtkamp - tenor saxophone
Steve Beresford - piano, electronics
Martin Blume - drums, percussion

Recorded by Zdeněk Fikar Mixed by Luc Houtkamp
Cover by Henry van Kleeff
Cover picture by Luc Houtkamp

Music composed by Houtkamp - Beresford - Blume
"Improvising is everyday business. Recently, the trio of Dutch reedist Luc Houtkamp, British pianist Steve Beresford, and German drummer Martin Blume was scheduled for a gig at the Manufaktur in Schorndorf, Germany. On the day of the event Werner Hassler, the booker of the Manufaktur, received a message from Beresford that his flight from London/Gatwick was deleted without replacement (it was a no-frills airline). He couldn’t make it for the concert. So what should they do now? Should they cancel the gig? Houtkamp and Blume decided off the cuff to play as a duo, something they haven’t done before. In the end, it went really well, although I suppose that the performance might have been even better with Beresford. What the audience missed can be heard on Live in Prague 2017, the trio’s only release so far (their plan was to record another album at the Loft in Cologne after the Schorndorf show).

Martin Blume is not a drummer who pushes himself to the fore all the time (this sounds like a truism but I’ve seen drummers who do so), the aesthetics of his playing stresses the idea of entering a challenging and exciting musical dialogue with his partners. His characteristic feature is his drum kit, which he has extended according to the modular system. It consists of a huge array of little cymbals, bells, woodblocks, sticks etc. Additionally, he caresses his drumskins with the palms of his hands, with the fingertips, with different mallets and brushes. His approach contrasts very nicely with Luc Houtkamp’s saxophone philosophy, which is a rather traditional one - hardly any extended techniques like circular breathing, clicking and clapping on the keys of the tenor, hisses or guttural sounds. He prefers to play a plaintive melody here and there but he’s also able to be boisterous and harsh. All in all, he reminds me of the great free jazz blues man Joe McPhee. However, the actual sensation is Steve Beresford. He leads the way of the improvisation throwing in stride piano riffs, Tayloresque clusters, and he accelerates the pace with arpeggios and propulsive, contrasting chords that instigate Houtkamp to use guttural, forceful sax runs (listen to the first track around the 22-minute-mark). Yet, out of the blue, Beresford is able to switch to the interior of the piano and in combination with Blume’s little instruments he can change directions to microscopic sound explorations. His balanced use of electronics adds nice new sound colours as well. In a nutshell, Live in Prague 2017 is a very nice album for fans of the Schlippenbach Trio, for example."
Martin Schray Free Jazz Blog