PACIFIC 2003 (2005)
Phil Wachsmann / Martin Blume Duo
Bead Records CD 07SP
Phil Wachsmann violine, electronics
Martin Blume drums
coyote 1 10:05
coyote 2 10:00
coyote 3 07:41
coyote 4 08:04
coyote 5 13:41
coyote 6 04:20
coyote 7 09:13
coyote 8 02:54
1,2 @ Dizzys, San Diego April 8, 2003 by Greg Buhlert
3 @ The Luggage Store, San Francisco April 17, 2003 by Scott R. Loony
4-8 @ The Empty Bottle, Chicago April 24, 2003 at 7th Empty Bottle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music by Malachi Ritscher
"One of the first musicians to drift from contemporary classical music into Free Improv in the 1970s was Ugandan-born, London-based Philipp Wachsmann. Since then Wachsmann has worked with everyone from pioneering BritImprov trombonist Paul Rutherford to young Bay area bassist Damon Smith. An early adapter of live electronics, the violinist has helped other players, such as saxophonist Evan Parker, work out a rapprochement with kilowatts.
Over the years he has played in groups as large as the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and as small as solo. Yet, as these notable CDs demonstrate, his recent preference seems to be for duos. Neatly balanced in conception and execution the two discs find the fiddler trading licks with two long-time associates who have partnered him in larger combos.
Concentrating on Wachsmann’s acoustic prowess, Pacific 2003 is a souvenir of gigs with percussionist Martin Blume in Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco. Part of the band Lines with the violinist, Blume from Bochum, Germany, has worked with other outstanding Euro improvisers ranging from Italian saxophonist Mario Schiano to German trombonist Johannes Bauer.
Startle the Echoes on the other hand draws on the fiddler’s electronic side. Here both Wachsmann and keyboardist Matthew Hutchinson attach live electronics to their instruments to alter sounds and generate new ones.....
....More empathy seems to be on show on Pacific 2003, which in spite of its title reaches its musical peaks during the Chicago-recorded tracks. The nearly 14-minute “Coyote 4” is a particular stand-out, especially when half-way through Wachsmann seems to clone himself, simultaneously picking and bowing at different tempi. In response, Blume ricochets single beats across his snares and gracefully taps his cymbals after having first announced his presence with recurring bell-pealing strokes as if he’s an itinerant knife-grinder advertising his services. Elsewhere the fiddler moves from languid harp-like glissandi to ample sul ponticello snaps to banjo-like clawhammer runs as the drummer vibrates and manipulates parts of his kit. Polyphonically shaping side scrapes, skin slaps, hand drumming and what could be spoon-rattling into an accompanying mosaic, Blume’s side of the conversation varies from stop time to abstractions, chosen with care to bond with Wachsmann’s abstract spiccato or legato impressionism.
variations of this intuitive partnership surface on the California tracks as well. Individually the playing is just as spectacular particularly note Wachsmann’s slashing spiccato and clusters of stops and squeezes, plus Blume’s rim-shot flaps, drum-head rattles and marimba-like wooden pops yet the broken-octave improvising seems a bit unconnected. While the fortissimo and agitato passages are exciting, at points the intersection fades to near silence which could suggest cerebral concentration or momentary befuddlement, Overall, Wachsmann’s acoustic meeting with Blume is more satisfying than the electronic interface with Hutchinson. Both CDs will likely be welcomed by long-time followers of any of the musicians. Still, for the casual listener, the illuminating spark the three, especially the violinist, brings to other sessions, appears be unplugged in certain instances."
Ken Waxman, JazzWord