"Spindrift" Leo CD LR 883

Frank Paul Schubert – alto and soprano saxophone
Dieter Manderscheid – doublebass
Martin Blume – drums and percussions


01 Gale (34:08)
02 Leucothea (30:44)

total time: 64:54

All music by Frank Paul Schubert, Dieter Manderscheid, Martin Blume (GEMA)

Recorded live at LOFT Cologne on April 12, 2019
recorded, mixed and mastered by Stefan Deistler
Cover art by Karin Kahlhofer (1943-2017) „o.t. 1994“
Photos by Jef Vandebroek
Liner notes by Werner Hassler, translated by Melvyn Poore

"If this trio had not come together, someone would have had to invent it. The three exceptional musicians of the german scene show what Instant Composing can mean today, with their refined language and continued expressiveness. All three originate from North Rhine/Westfalia, in the meantime Frank Paul Schubert lives in Berlin. Known among other things for his collaboration with British musicians, such as Paul Dunmall or John Edwards, he is one of the most important contemporary saxophonists, characterized by an idiosyncratic and independent style. Dieter Manderscheid is one of the most sought-after European bass players, versatile, elegant and virtuosic. The great Ekkehard Jost called his playing ’addictive'. He has played for many years now with Blume in various formations: together they perform with somnambulistic certainty. Blume is one of the leading representatives of European improvised music, characterized by his pronounced quasi-compositional sensitivity, which "indicates a close connection to new music" (Signal to Noise). Expect nothing less from this trio than finely-honed, subtle and exuberant sound research."

Werner Hassler
(Manufaktur Schorndorf/D)

Frank Paul Schubert, Dieter Manderscheid, Martin Blume ‎ Spindrift (Leo Records, 2020)  ()

I’m a sucker for saxophone, bass and drum trios which seem to run through the history of free jazz like a golden thread. It remains a format that provides fresh inspiration, and here we have Frank Paul Schubert (alto and soprano saxophones), Dieter Manderscheid (double bass), and Martin Blume (drums, percussion) – all stalwarts of the European scene but their first session as a trio – at LOFT, Cologne in April last year, and splendidly recorded it is too doing full justice to the group’s scrupulous attention to movement, weight and texture. There are two lengthy improvisations both lasting about half-an-hour that unfold in a sequence of organically related episodes, their breadth sweeping the listener along.

On ‘Gail’ Schubert’s serpentine themes grow inexorably from within their own contours, swelling and contracting with an easy grace, from time to time taking on an acerbic edge. Bass and drums fill out a resonant, crackling space around the saxophone, labile forces alert to the fluctuating balance. There’s a concentration on the intricacies of musical ideas, a progression and focussing of purpose according to a generative logic. Schubert follows implications, tests alternative possibilities, and turns existing components into something new, all linked together and reminiscent of the processes at work in the music of Steve Lacy and Evan Parker. Cymbal strokes have the fragility of wind on water, drums scrape, tiptoe and chatter, the bass delineates firm countermelodies overlapping like tendrils with the saxophone. Collectively the trio creates the impression of an ornamented fabric of shifting patterns.

This is also warmly expressive music with passages of great beauty. During ‘Leucothea’ (a Greek sea goddess) Manderscheid’s graceful bowing is framed by multiphonics and percussive tinkles, layers that blend, surge and are washed away leaving a fragile soprano melody, time-stopping and serene, which gradually brings the trio together rising again in a slow crescendo to close.
Colin Green, Free Jazz Blog

"Recorded nearly two years later, in mid-2019, Spindrift is Schubert with the respected rhythm team of Germans drummer Martin Blume and bassist Dieter Manderscheid who have similar experience with saxophonist like Toby Delius and Frank Gratkowski.

A different situation, there seems to be enhanced maturity and determination in Schubert’s playing on Spindrift. Perhaps it’s because he can vary his textures between alto and soprano saxophones; or that there’s more sonic space available with only two associates; and/or the fact that the bassist and drummer have worked together for so long that a certain level of accommodation is expected. That’s accommodation not accompaniment, for the textures propelled from Blume and Manderscheid are tough and layered as well. In response, by the time the saxophonist completes the primary section of “Gale” his ferocious collection of screaming multiphonics and jagged split tones are as explosive as anything played by Charles Gayle, to take one saxophone avatar for comparison. Unfazed by this overblowing, the bassist and drummer keep up a concentrated dialogue to move the track forward. Before completing the interface with clip-clop accents, Blume sticks to cow-bell pops beneath a double bass expression that encompasses near chamber-music-like swirls and sweeps. Although subsequent sequences gradually lower the voltage to evenness, simple drum clanks, buzzing strings and reed gurgles are replaced in the track’s final five minutes with Schubert’s second wind which uses harsh runs to blow the piece to a splintering finale aided by drum crashes. More restrained with single bass string thumps and brushed cymbal accompaniment, “Leucothea” also finds the band members expressing themselves in double or triple counterpoint or with layered expositions – soprano saxophone on top. Even when Manderscheid asserts himself with strokes that work their way from the basement upwards, power is there without thematic flow interruption. The other stand out sequence involves Schubert whose instance of circular breathing evolves from near inaudible wisps to expressively vibrated honks, backed by drum clip clops and bass double stops before relaxing into a narrowed connection. When an unaccented trill is eventually burbled by the saxophonist, the ending is confirmed.

With high-quality improvising from all concerned on both discs, it’s almost crass to single out Schubert. But it’s his musical sophistication that links these sets."

—Ken Waxman,

«Spindrift» – the album and the trio – brings together three of the most experienced and exceptional German free-improvisers, all originate from North Rhine/Westphalia region: sax player Frank Paul Schubert, double bass player Dieter Manderscheid and drummer Martin Blume, the binding link in this trio. Blume is a long-time collaborator of Manderscheid and he has played in a trio with Paul Schubert and Alexander von Schlippenbach. «Spindrift» was recorded at the Loft, Cologne, in April 2019.

These three musicians have played with the most innovative improvisers, from Peter Brötzmann to Paul Dunmall, John Butcher to Ken Vandermark and Barre Phillips to John Edwards. They have refined their very own personal, expressive languages, but already established a strong identity as the Spindrift trio. Their performance at the Loft features two extended pieces, each over thirty minutes, and both stress the trio work as a subtle and exuberant sound research.

The first one «Gale» begins with sparse gestures that almost instantly are channelled into a layered texture that already suggests strong compositional architecture. Paul Schubert offers a series of ideas but Manderscheid and Blume are equal partners and often they take the lead and their improvised strategies set the course and the tone of this improvisation, from urgent to more contemplative but still a restless one. Manderscheid bowed solo towards the end of this piece is truly poetic and the inventive percussive work of Blume always shed surprising colors on the ideas of his comrades, They play with natural authority and affinity, strong, organic flow and playful-melodic sense. The democratic interplay leans on free jazz and European schools of free-improvisation but is more ambitious and embraces ideas from contemporary music.

The second piece «Leucothea» begins in a similar manner, but the tone is more quiet and introspective, still restless and searching. The trio constantly shapes and refines its ideas and always injects new sonic elements that disrupt the delicate balance and demand a new improvised strategy, but there is a loose thread that connects all these phases into a bigger whole. Towards the end of this piece the soprano sax of Paul Schubert sounds like an exotic flute while the percussive work of Blume and the bass playing of Manderscheid intensifies this  mysterious beauty. The trio sounds as one, three-headed organism that always searches for more, challenging possibilities, with great conviction and poetic sensibility.

If this great trio had not come together, someone would have had to invent it."

Eyal Hareuveni, Salt peanuts

"This recording was predestined: the musicians all hail from the improvised music scene in Germany and all have played together.  They have such a highly developed empathy with each other’s creative, working associations that what becomes apparent is that they are working in order to advance, to progress rather than to arrive.  The goal is the method: instantaneous construction – improvisation.

The affinity between them is drummer/percussionist Blume, long time representative of the European avant jazz scene and collaborations with such as Peter Brötzmann, Lol Coxhill, Phil Minton and Ken Vandermark.  He has also shared similar experiences with both Schubert and Manderscheid who further include Harry Beckett, Paul Dunmall, Uwe Oberg, Barre Phillips and Kenny Wheeler in their catalogues of meaningful influences.

Spindrift is a live recording of the trio’s concert at LOFT last year and their extreme subtlety and finesse are on display throughout the two tracks, each of which is just over 30 minutes long.  This allows them space, breathing space if you will, to play freely – there is no rush on any one of them.  The album title and those of its two tracks are related, though I do not know why; Spindrift is the spray blown from the top of a wave in a Gale force 8 wind, while Leucothea is a mythological, Greek, sea goddess.  Even less explicably perhaps, she appears in Milton’s Paradise Lost, in Robert Graves’ The White Goddess and several times in Ezra Pounds’ Cantos. Back in the day she appeared as a gannet with advice for the hero in the Odyssey.

Back with Spindrift, Gale starts off tranquilly, until almost indiscernible variations in the energy levels draw attention to the method of these changes – not brought about by individual interventions, but by energy channellings by the band as an entity.  The music moves into and out of phase changes, maintaining variations in tension that will draw you to the front edge of your chair.

Leucothea sets out more serenely, but its energy level increases at the insistence of the drums, definitely in the driving seat.  The complexity of its abstract, musical architecture is such that it binds the musicians to their compact: to progress rather than to arrive.  They do this with considerable aplomb with this album: it’s cerebral, it’s beautiful."

 Ken Cheetham  Jazzviews

Spindrift |

Instant Composing voller Finesse und Schönheit

Text: Heinrich Brinkmöller-Becker

Drei Ausnahmemusiker der NRW-Szene der improvisierten Musik geben ein neues Album heraus: Spindrift – ein Live-Mitschnitt von ihrem Konzert im Kölner Loft aus dem letzten Jahr. Man hört den beiden jeweils über 30 Minuten langen Stücken der CD an, dass Frank Paul Schubert (as, ss), Dieter Manderscheid (b) und Martin Blume (dr, perc) schon häufig miteinander gespielt haben und geradezu traumwandlerisch ihre improvisatorischen Einfälle voller subtiler Finesse aufeinander beziehen können, dass man als Hörer den Eindruck gewinnen muss, hier handele es sich um ein durchkomponiertes, akribisch abgestimmtes musikalisches Konzept.

Instant Composing – das bedeutet nicht nur auf die Rezipientenseite bezogen ein der Situation verhaftetes „Instant Listening“, sondern ein solches auch der beteiligten Musiker, die das Aufeinanderhören abstimmen auf den ständigen Prozess des eigenen Weiterentwickelns von musikalischen Ideen im Sinne des Miteinanderspielens, des gemeinsamen Weiterspinnens von Ideen zu dem Zwecke, weniger ein Kunstprodukt zu schaffen, sondern eher einen Prozess zu generieren. Der Begriff des „Flows“ beschreibt diesen Ansatz am treffendsten, die Metaphorik von Formen, die sich aufs Wasser beziehen, sind für die Beschreibung dieser Musik nicht von ungefähr sehr verbreitet. Beim Album-Titel Spindrift und dem der beiden Tracks Gale und Leucothea bewegt sich das Trio ebenfalls in dieser Bildwelt. Bedeutungen wie Gischt, Sturm, Orkan, Meeresgötter, Quallen eröffnen Assoziationsräume, die mit dem Musizieren der Drei wunderbar korrespondieren und einen entsprechenden Ideenfluss schaffen.

Gale beginnt mit einem ruhigen, fast kontemplativen Herantasten, Frank Paul Schubert bläst ununterbrochen Phrasen, die vom Bass und den Drums in einem energiegeladenen Kontinuum sekundiert werden. Ganz allmählich, fast unmerklich steigern sich Tempo und Energie, das Alt-Sax wird mit schnellen und exklamatorischen Läufen expressiver, die Begleitung hält und bekräftigt das Energielevel mit vielen variantenreichen Einfällen. Nach ca. zehn Minuten leitet ein Bass-Solo eine neue Sequenz ein, ein für den ersten Track typischer Wechsel, der belegt, wie einfühlsam-spontan das Trio seine musikalischen Ideen entwickeln und auch wieder ausklingen lässt, um einen neuen Anlauf zu nehmen. Zunächst ohne Saxophon, nur mit „singender“ Perkussion unterstützt, streicht Dieter Manderscheid den Kontrabass, Saxophon und Perkussion nehmen das Material auf und verdichten es im anschwellenden Tempo zu einem ähnlich konzentrierten Block wie in der Anfangssequenz. Einen bluesartig klingenden Zyklus läutet das Saxophon mit einem expressiven Growling ein, der Bass kommt mit Flageolett-Tönen hinzu. Klangliche Farbtupfer des Saxophons und eine unermüdlich arbeitende Perkussion lassen bei schnellen Bassläufen eine ausgesprochen fokussierte Klangreise entstehen. Die unterschiedlichen Phrasen werden jeweils von allen Dreien raffiniert aufgegriffen und bis zum ekstatischen Siedepunkt am Schluss zusammengebracht.

Leucothea arbeitet zunächst in ruhigerem Fahrwasser und entwickelt nuancenreiche Wendungen, um im weiteren Verlauf mit den vorwärtstreibenden Drums an Fahrt aufzunehmen. Die Musik erreicht dabei mit ihrem verhaltenen Schwebezustand eine verblüffende Suggestivkraft, eine hochkonzentrierte Dichte. Das Saxophon schlägt virtuose Haken, während Bass und Percussion für eine komplexe und differenzierte Dauerbewegung sorgen. Bei aller Abstraktion von Harmonie und Melodie beziehen die drei Musiker sich geheimnisvoll aufeinander und lassen ein klangexperimentelles Gebilde entstehen, das man als gelungene akustische Übersetzung eines submarinen Perpetuum mobile auffassen kann.

Als Zuhörer ist man froh darüber, dass ein solches Konzert als CD vorliegt und man nicht auf ein „Instant Listening“ des Live-Konzertes beschränkt bleibt. Die digitale Reproduktionstechnik ermöglicht ein mehrmaliges Hören von Spindrift und erschließt einem erst recht umfänglich die Schönheit und Finesse dieser CD.

Frank Paul Schubert, Dieter Manderscheid, Martin Blume: Spindrift. Leo Records LR 883 2020



"Trio saxophones – contrebasse – batterie co-piloté par trois improvisateurs expérimentés. On ne louangera jamais assez le percussionniste Martin Blume pour la qualité de son travail, son sens aigu de la multiplication / croisement des rythmes, des frappes et des pulsations auprès d’improvisateurs remarquables voire incontournables : John Butcher, Georg Gräwe et Hans Schneider (Frisque Concordance), Phil Minton et Marcio Mattos au violoncelle (Axon), Phil Wachsmann, Jim Denley, Axer Dörner et de nouveau Mattos (Lines), Birgit Uhler et Damon Smith (Sperrgut), Frank Gratkowski etc…. et avec qui on découvre toujours une facette de sa personnalité en osmose avec ses partenaires.  Sans parler des autres formations (duos etc…) avec les précités. En compagnie de l’excellent saxophoniste alto et soprano Frank-Paul Schubert (entendu avec Olaf Rupp, Alex von Schippenbach, Willi Kellers…) et du fidèle contrebassiste Dieter Manderscheid, c’est son approche plus « jazz libre » qui fait surface donnant la répartie au lyrisme anguleux du souffleur en phase avec le travail méticuleux du bassiste aussi à l’aise à l’archet qu’avec les doigts de la main droite sur le bas de la touche. Plutôt que soutenir, voire « pousser » le flux et les articulations des timbres du saxophones avec une énergie trop affirmée, le tandem basse-batterie choisit la légèreté, la subtilité, complétant la trajectoire du souffle et ses multiples modes de jeux de manière à étendre la palette sonore et la dynamique pour plus de lisibilité. Lorsque le premier morceau, Gale (34 :08) dépasse la moitié de sa durée le volume sonore décroit, le batteur frappant légèrement les surfaces et le bords de ses tambours et le sommet de ses cymbales. Chacun offrant à l’autre l’initiative consécutivement changeant le cap des échanges vers d’autres directions et configurations sonores. La facilité mélodique de Frank Paul Schubert se joue des méandres des enchaînements d’intervalles qui obéissent à des relations harmoniques complexes et mouvantes. La quintessence d’un souffle free savant, même s’il vocalise et s’emporte en fin de parcours. En maintenant la légèreté et la lisibilité de ses frappes, Martin Blume entretient la flamme en s’activant de plus belle croisant et multipliant à foison les pulsations avec une science remarquable et un maîtrise peu commune de la qualité de chaque frappe. Ces micros roulements sont superbement modulés nous faisant découvrir différents points sur la caisse claire d’où naissent des sons bien distincts. Laissé à lui-même, le contrebassiste contribue à enrichir la construction collective. Dieter Manderscheid a longtemps travaillé avec Frank Gratkowski, Martin Blume, Hannes Bauer, Gerry Hemingway, etc... La deuxième improvisation (Leucothea 30 :44) voit Blume solliciter ses accessoires métalliques à même les peaux. Petit à petit les volutes du souffleur entourent et font tournoyer le jeu précis et fluide du batteur et les rebonds des cordes du bassiste et s’élancent dans un souffle continu fracturant et hachant le timbre en croisant des doigtés alors que l’archet fait chanter le gros violon avec un ronflement d’harmoniques. C’est le moment choisi d’un fin duo percussion – contrebasse intériorisé et arrêtant le temps : on entend une voix intime poindre au creux de l’échange. Ces trois musiciens ont l’art de développer et faire durer l’expression collective et leur écoute mutuelle en découvrant méthodiquement et spontanément les champs sonores inhérents à leurs capacités instrumentales et musicales et leurs trouvailles qui rencontrent ici un aboutissement sans appel. Magnifique !"
Jean Michel  van Schouwburg