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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Berlin Kaboom!

ACT 9559-2



  1. Space Walk
  2. Ballet of the Gnomes
  3. Berlin Kaboom!
  4. Kazakhstan
  5. Human Intent

Max von Mosch Orchestra

Recorded July 2012 at Jazzclub Unterfahrt, Munich [56:33]


Recorded during a residence at the Jazzclub Unterfahrt, Munich, in July 2012, this set has the three-piece suite Berlin Kaboom! as its centrepiece and satellite works round out the programme. Bandleader Max von Mosch, tenor and soprano sax player, as well as clarinettist, is also the composer and his mainly German band stay close to his tone and concept throughout.

Many of the voicings sound to me to be rooted in the kind of orchestrations that Gil Evans fashioned prior to his infatuation with the music of Jimi Hendrix. Space Walk is dominated by altoist Christian Weidner and the writing for horns is excellent, the shifting drum patterns providing constant interest. Each tune has a brief narrative description suggested in the leader’s notes, and that for Ballet of the Gnomes takes place in a forest clearing, that locus classicus of German Romanticism. I decided to ignore these literary prompts and heard instead puckish dance motifs, a raucous sax solo and some Carla Bley-soundalike backing voicings.

Trombonist Adrian Mears is the narrator during Kazakhstan with its powerful evocation of local colour and rhythms but also standing proudly independent in his (so it seems to me) nod at the kind of thing the mighty Gary Valente produces. Didgeridoo and bassoon star in Human Intent. Nor the kind of things one expects to hear in a Jazz album but then, the bassoon has seldom been played as funkily as it is here by Gregor Bürger.

The suite Berlin Kaboom! shows hints of Evans once again in the subtlety of its voicings but in the thrash explosions it also looks back to The Art Ensemble of Chicago. The modal vamp of the last of the three parts, Rugged, has both angularity and also Roots lineage – an eclectic combination especially when fused with idiosyncratic rhythmic patterns. There’s also a funkier vibe ushered in by a becalmed trombone.

Difficult to classify though it is, this album will appeal to the band’s admirers – admirers therefore of the selectively eclectic and largely successful.

Jonathan Woolf

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