Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gunther 'Baby' Soemmer

Photos: Gian Paolo Galasi
Since I've Interviewed Matthew Shipp  two weeks ago, but not his partner for that date (which I also listened to in Paris last February, but I didn't reviewed on this blog), I want to spend some lines in presenting Mr. Gunther 'Baby' Soemmer, born in Dresden in 1943 where he's currently teaching drums and percussions. At the concert I bought some records (that aren't easily available in Italy where I'm currently living) that showed me, along with his live performances, an extremely multi-faceted musician.

But, let's start from the beginning. Gunther starts playing behind the Iron Courtain, in the Communist Era. His musical apprenticeship is partly influenced from an older friend with whom he listens to the BBC Radio broadcasts. So he listens to Art Blakey, Max Roach and Philly Joe Jones amongst others. 

In 1961 he starts a class of dance music and plays as much as he can. In the 1980's he join Western Europe, where Jost Gebers, who run the FMP Label, begin to document his music and collaborations. In 1988 Soemmer plays in Atalanta at a National Black Arts Festival with bassist Peter Kowald and trombonist Konrad Bauer; the trio also plays in Victoriaville Festival in 1992.

But 'Baby' (named after 'Baby' Face Willette) starts playing solo drums since the 1970s, crossing the path of the likes of Peter Brotzmann, Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Evan Parker, Paul Rutherford, Derek Bailey, Wilhelm Brueker, Han Bennink, and Misha Mengelberg, and also Cecil Taylor, and also Italian improvisers like Gianni Gebbia and Mario Schiano.

'Hörmusik' (from German, 'music to listen to'), is a set that Gunter plays behind a courtain (another one) in theater, as a matter of pure listening to music. The drums are invisible to the public and that is the concept that stays behind, as he states:

“As for the solo playing, I don’t feel like just a timekeeper percussionist, I’m listening to so many different types of music. For me the musical world is a global village and sometimes when I’m listening to an interesting music it remains in my body and then comes out transformed. So when I play real long solo concerts, sometimes I take you to Africa or somewhere else. It’s not the real original, but it’s something of this. I think about how to start them, how to end, and to have certain points I’m going to and from, that point to go in another direction. But what happens in between is up to the moment. I really try to bring in an order in terms of composition. Because this way improvisation is also a sort of ‘instant composing.’ You are playing and composing when you do it and you have to pay attention to all these things, like counterpoints, dynamics, slow & fast, to keep the whole thing in the right balance.”  (see the complete interview on Gongtopia Website)

Gunter 'Baby' Sommer has also collaborated with Nobel Prize winner Gunter Grass, the author of "The Tin Drum", kind of a surrealistic long novel that metaforically overlooks the entire history of Germany through the rise of Nazist dictatorship until the end of WWII. There is a double CD made of Gunter Grass reading chapters of The Tin Drum and  The Fish (another novel shorter than the first one) with Soemmer accompanying him on drums. 

Some Records:

Zentralquartett - 11 songs - Aus Teutschen Landen (Intakt Records, 2006)
Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky (alto, flute, clarinet); Conrad Bauer (trombone); Ulrich Gumpert (pian); Günter Sommer (drums, percussions).
This album proposes 11 Volkslieder, pupular songs from XV Century, plus a couple of Gumpert's originals (the pianist is responsible also for picking up and arranging the repertorie). Improvising over this kind of traditional structures gives the record a joyous and higly ironical tinge, along with pieces immersed in a meditative mood.

01. Der Alte Thüringer - 4:30; 02. Es Fiel Ein Reif - 7:44; 03. Kiekbush - 5:15; 04. Dat Du Min Leevsten Büst - 4:30; 05. Der Maie, Der Maie - 5:56; 06. Tanz Mir Nicht Mit Meiner Jungfer Käthen - 3:53; 07. Es Sass Ein Schneeweiss Vögelein - 2:18; 08. Kommt, Ihr G'spielen - 5:39; 09. Es Ritten Drei Reiter Zum Tore Hinaus - 4:22; 10. Conference At Conny's - 2:21; 11. Es War Ein König In Thule - 5:07

Gunter 'Baby' Sommer - Live in Jerusalem (Kadima Collective Recordings, 2009)
Gunter Baby Sommer (drums); Steve Horenstein (baritone, and soprano sax); Jean Claude Jones (bass); Assif Tsahar (tenor sax, bass clarinet); Yoni Silver (bass clarinet); Yonatan Albalak (guitar); Yonatan Kretzmer (tenor sax).

In 2004, bassist JC Jones, born in Sfax, Tunisia, founded Kadima Collective Recordings, in order to document new Israelian jazz movement. In this record, Gunter leads improavant most know israeli stars, including tenor saxophonist Assif Tsahar, in various lineups d(uos, trios and quartets). Thundering, challenging, and extroverted performances. Sommer solos on Sommertime, inspiring through the recordings (made at Kalima Music Salon in Jerusalem) the musicians playing with him. 

01. Bojoh - 6:02; 02. Jassek - 10:40; 03. Sommertime - 5:52; 04. Bast - 13.12; 05. Yo Yo Yo - 7:48; 06. Sababa - 6:20.

Gunter 'Baby' Sommer percussion & strings - Whispering Eurasia (Neos Jazz, 2010)
Gunda Gottschalk (violin); Xu Fengxia (guzheng/sanxian/voice); Akira Ando (double bass); Gunter Baby Sommer (percussion)

Xu Fengxia started playing traditional Chinese music on various intruments since when she was 5; during her career she joined the Shanghai Orchestra of Chinese Music, but spanning throughout the years, she played also pop and rock music as a bassist and, since 1990's she started playing jazz and improvisation, touring with Peter Kowald. This record is a beautiful example of mixing  tinges taken from different traditions in improvisational textures.

01. Jing Ye Si - ester Gedanke - 06:09 - 02. Cubus - 02:17 - 03. Stelline - 03:40 - 04: Inside - Outside - 04:20 - 05. Snack I - 01:15 - 06. Qui Ye Luo Ting - 07:50 - 07. Snack II - 01:38 - 08. Netzballe - 06.15 - 09. Snack III - 01:13 - 10. Silenda - 03:34 - 11. Snack - 01:05 - 12. Warabe Sobi - 02:13 - 13. Rumba Saxonia 05:31 - 14 Jing Ye Si - zweiter Gedanke - 05:23

No comments:

Post a Comment