- Gunda Gottschalk, violin / viola
- Peter Jacquemyn, bass
- Ute Völker, accordion
This Trio evokes the powerful joy of playing from the Free Jazz tradition. The music unfolds with enormous energy and an amazingly expansive volume of tone. The sudden changes in color and the surprising turns during the improvisations lend a new face to the "power play" of Free Jazz.
The music documented on Baggerboot represents a moment of interconnectedness of three extraordinary individual musicians expressing their freedoms in an exciting world community of improvisers. They have moved through a variety of trainings in traditional forms of music to create their exploratory musical energies. Whether it is the fierce energy of noise with each musician wrapping around the others or the interplay of lyrical moments, there is awareness and communication. Improvisation is musical survival in the meta-cultural soundscape that is thriving, throbbing and sending new possibilities for relationships in a world littered with the millennial old patterns of argument as war. In this music there is negotiation, give and take in intimate and open spaces. This trio of indomitable musicians brings a rewarding feeling of unity. Their music is timely in a world of no time. The music is challenging in its multi-faceted detail. The bottom line is feeling that is never trapped in virtuosity Ð the music carries the feeling through waves of balanced simplicity, complexity and deep textural combinations of well loved instruments.
Gunda Gottschalk, violin / viola, plays improvised and contemporary music and combines her musical work with other art forms such as dance, theater, film, composition, visual art and literature. Since 1991 Gunda has been a member of Partita Radicale, a quintet for new and improvised music. Besides developing original improvisation cycles, Partita Radicale became known to a broader audience through their silent movie programs with live music, music theater productions and collaborations with composers. In 1994/95 the violinist met the bassist Peter Kowald. She performed in Kowald’s Ort-Ensemble and with important international soloists for improvised music such as Joelle Leandre, Carlos Zingaro, and Evan Parker. From 1995-2002, together with Xu Feng Xia, she made up the core trio of Kowald’s Global Village Ensemble, which brought together musicians from radically different cultural heritages. In ensembles ranging from trio to sextet, Global Village concertized in Europe and the USA. Among the many guest artists collaborating with the trio were Jin Hi Kim, Savina Yannatou, Pamela Z, Jeanne Lee, Otomo Yoshihide, Le Quan Ninh. 2002/03 Solo tours took Gunda all over the USA. There she played with William Parker, Susie Ibarra, Assif Tsahar, Michael Zerang, Oliver Lake, and Fred Frith, among many others. Gunda Gottschalk has been well represented on festivals of contemporary and improvised music throughout Europe and is a regular guest at the avantgarde Visions festival in New York.
Peter Jacquemyn, bass, is a member of WIM (Werkgroep Improviserende Musici) and has been performing since 1984. He performs in ensembles, duos, trios and quartets as well as participating in dance projects and theatrical performances. He is also a painter and sculptor. He performs in ensembles with Fred Van Hove, Ivo Vanerborght, Jacques Palindkx, Conrad Bauer, Wolfgang Fuchs, Takashi Yamane, Michael Moore, Ernst Reysegger, Barre Phillips, Roger Turner, Tony Oxley, Joelle Leandre, the late Peter Kowald, and many other stellar musicians. Duos and Trios with V2duo with Andre Goudbeek (sax), Gunda Gottschalk (violin), Geurt Grossfeld (flute), Trios with Andre Goudbeek and Le Quan Ninh (percussion), Jeffrey Morgan (sax) and Mark Sanders (percussion) are also part of his performance repertoire.
Ute Völker, accordion, is an accordion teacher at the Music School in Bochum, as well as a performing musician specializing in free improvisation. She studied the accordion and music theory at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Germany. She has also studied musicology, phonetics and German at the Universities of Cologne, Vienna and Paris. Ute is a cofounder of Partita Radicale, an ensemble of modern improvised music and contemporary chamber music. Partita Radicale have performed worldwide in countries such as Belgium, France, Rumania, Albania, and China. Trios in which she performs include Gottschalk and Jaquemyn as well as John Russel (guitar) and Mathieu Wischowski (violin). Ute has played duos with performing artist Cornelie Müller (Munich, Germany), as well as with Carl-Ludwig Hübsch (Tu) and Chefa Alonso (sax). Ute is a member of Fineworks orchestra for improvised music. She has performed in concerts of improvised music both alone and with many artists in Europe, USA, Canada and Argentina. Since 1994, Ute has also been very active in various theatre productions, the latest being in 2004 Mr. WangÕs New Face with Partita Radicale and Wen Lei (Peking opera singer).
HurdAudio Rotation: The House That Hope Built
Free improvisation with strong parallels to improvised painting. Big, multi-colored paint brushes dripping with thick gobs of paint being flung into the frame of time to produce an aural image that fills every part of the canvas. The three tracks are labeled "Cascade I," Cascade II" and "Cascade III" for a music that cascades with the violence and beauty of a waterfall along a sheer cliff on its way toward a fierce splash and spray at the bottom. The reedy accordion pulled along by strong currents as the string instruments are sawed at mercilessly by Gottschalk and Jacquemyn. A spontaneous creation that loses nothing with repeated listening.
- Devin Hurd, Hurd Audio
Bonnie Wright's new label, Henceforth Records is off to a good start with a couple of thrilling releases.
"Baggerboot" features a trio of two musicians from Wuppertal, Germany - violinist and viola player Gunda Gottschalk and accordion player Ute Völker - along with Belgian bassist Peter Jacquemyn [who is also a member of the famous WIM]. Unusual choice of instrumentation for a jazz improvisation ensemble, but then again, this is not really jazz. It somehow straddles the boundaries and moves freely between improvisation and new music. In fact, new music is the moniker I would stick on the trio. Many of the recent work by members of the trio can be heard on various releases on Free Elephant label, which incidentally is run by Gottschalk. From a musical perspective, the trio doesn't really probe any new frontiers. This sort of comprovised [partially composed and mostly improvised music] has been done numerous times before. What's interesting here is all three players are truly interested in the texture of the sounds. How will the sounds appear as Gottschalk scrapes a mean pattern across her violin, while accordionist Völker weaves waves of chaotic noise, all the while Jacquemyn pounds his bass into submission with brutal force. Most interesting passage comes in "Cascade III", where a moody, drone passage is introduced. Highly energetic, the sounds are weaved in a fashion that makes the sum of the parts more interesting than individual ingredients.
- Tom Sekowski, Gaz-eta
Gunda Gottschalk/Peter Jacquemyn/Ute Volker - baggerboot (Henceforth Records 102) Featuring Gunda Gottschalk on violin & viola, Ute Volker on accordion (both from Wuppertal, Germany) and Peter Jacquemyn on contrabass (from Brakel, Belgium). We know the gifted improviser Gunda Gottschalk from her work with Peter Kowald, as well as her duo with Xu Feng Xia, both from performances at previous Vision festivals. She once played a fine solo set here at DMG. Contrabass explorer, Peter Jacquemyn, also played a great duo set here at DMG with vocalist Anna Homler a few months back and has an incredible, bizarre solo bass disc out that I reviewed right after his in-store performance. Ute Volker has a trio disc out with John Russell on Emanem, but I can't say that I was familiar with her before this date. Both Gunda and Ute are members of a group called Partita Radicale.
This acoustic trio sound completely unique, a very strange blend of two strings and accordion. Both string players are masters of extended technique(s) and highly unusual sounds. They twist, bend and manipulate those strings in all sorts of bizarre ways. Ute also gets her accordion to wheeze and twist notes inside out. This trio is often dense, frantic, spirited, fractured and occasionally over-the-top, yet they know when to lighten up and deal with less intense textures. It often takes some work and concentration in order to hear how it fits together, although there is joy in the way that you do hear that cosmic thread when you open yourself up to it. An extraordinary and quite challenging trio, well worth your discriminating listening abilities.
- Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
Baggerboot appears to begin where Frutas Azules concludes, with Gottschalk at last asserting herself, although Völker appears a bit more reserved. This isn't unexpected either. Wuppertal-native Gottschalk was part of the late German bassist Peter Kowald's Ort-Ensemble and since then has improvised with a wide range of stylists including British saxophonist Evan Parker, American bassist William Parker, and Chinese guzheng player Xu Feng Xi . Not that the powerful contributions of Jacquemyn can be downplayed. The bassist, who lives in Brakel, Belgium, is not only a sculptor who assaults tree trunks with axe and chainsaw, but for the past 20 years has joined musical forces with improvisers ranging from Belgium-based saxophonist André Goudbeek and Kowald to American saxophonist Jeffrey Morgan and French percussionist Lê Quan Ninh.
Unlike the nearly effete, formalist improvisation of Frutas Azules, the three tracks entitled "Cascades" I through III on this CD are no-holds-barred improv, consequently running the risk of failure as well as success. The former taints "Cascade I", which is overlong at more than 25 minutes, and almost submerges it beneath energized solipsism. Sharp spiccato squeals from the high strings, multiphonic tremolo from the accordion, and dissonant ratcheting buzzing from the double bass too often shove the textures into subterranean percussiveness and reverb. While a singular fiddle tone is almost flute-like and some ratcheting stops from Jacquemyn sound as if he's taking a metal comb to his strings, the concentrated polyphony is nearly wearying.
Almost as extended, "Cascades III" is a focused, final variant which defines the trio's improvisational skills. It follows the 12-minute interlude of "Cascades II", which highlights bulging bellows from Völker, whistling stress and unison vocalizing from Gottschalk, plus Jacquemyn's string rapping. On the concluding variation, though, as the fiddle's glissandi turn to extended falsetto arpeggios, the bassist introduces dissonance while the accordionist's reeds take on definite baritone saxophone resonance. With Völker maintaining a throbbing ostinato made up of minimalist, organ-like textures, Gottschalk's vibrant strokes reference a hoedown and Jacquemyn's gravelly tones rotate to a series of descending arco stops. Down-pedaling from fortissimo and prestissimo pitches, the trio—especially the violinist—splinters sounds into their upper partials, contracting timbres into shrill whistles, then dead silence.
Defining the triumphs and consequences of energized improv, Baggerboot impresses with the trio's willingness to experiment. More consistent throughout, the more formal Frutas Azules doesn't attain the same level of accomplishment.
- Ken Waxman, One Final Note
Gottschalk has made her presence known on the Downtown New York music scene in recent years with several appearances at the cuttingedge Vision Festival in the company of stalwarts such as Peter Kowald, Oliver Lake, and William Parker, among others. The violinist/violist joins forces on (1) with bassist Jacquemyn and accordionist Völker for a program of dynamic and electrifying action that leaps well over the line into the trio's output that casts a mesmerizing spell of bewitching magnitude. Gottschalk and Völker are on similar tonal wave lengths churning out rapidfire missiles of intense heat while Jacquemyn builds a rumbling bass foundation from which they are able to ignite. Three lengthy pieces compose this session where speed of collective execution is at times supplanted by introspective musings. The trio doesn't remain in this reflective stage for long and continually reverts to a state of piercing acoustics. Gottschalk and Völker seemingly creep inside each other's mind set using their interactive communicative skills. The violinist builds a barbed perimeter around the action and the accordionist enters the circle with jarring staccato complements. In the underworld beneath them, Jacquemyn stirs a murky pot of viscous consistency to balance the sonic spectrum. Deep, mindbending canyons of spontaneity erupt into a sea of joyously cacophonous sound rivers. This is not, however, music that washes over one in waves of numbing abstractness; it is highly provocative artistry that commands rapt attention to the intricacies of three astute musicians who reward the bold voyager with a startling brand of creativity.
- Frank Rubolino, Cadence
This trio of improvisers from Wuppertal, Germany, and Brakel, Belgium, have, according to their label, named this collection of improvisations after a dredger, baggerboot, used to clear canals in the Lowlands. Quite why I don't know, except perhaps as a surrealist gesture.
They come with no less a recommendation than that of their sleevenote writer, none other than the legendary Pauline Oliveros, who, perhaps as an accordionist herself, and a sometime colleague of fellow accordionist Ute Völker (Wuppertal), appreciates the rich sonorities this free jazz trio produce.
With violinist Gottschalk (Wuppertal) and double bassist Jacquemyn (Brakel), Völker conjures up incredibly rich textures that remind me of the magisterial Jokleba and, weirdly, even early Weather Report. The accordion sometimes acts like an organ, the bass blocks out the picture, and the strings - viola as well as violin - supply the tension.
Comparisons are, however, ultimately self-defeating here; they are, to plagiarise Whitman, singing the song of themselves. So much free music can sound like being dragged backwards through mud, but from the first of these three lengthy improvisations you can sense an interaction and empathy similar to, but different to, AMM. They have found a unique voice - imagine maybe a mini-me version of the Globe Unity Orchestra - and they express it with aplomb, brio, and no little humour. They have discovered shocking and delightful new sounds on their instruments, and range boldly between contemporary classical music and anarchic free jazz. A free music recording you'll find yourself playing again and again.
- John Gill, The Wire