|Keith Tippett of BNT at Cafe Oto, September 2014
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2014. All rights reserved
Brötzmann, Noble, Tippett (BNT)
(Cafe Oto, 25th September 2014, first of a two-night residency; review and drawing of Keith Tippett by Geoff Winston)
BNT – Peter Brötzmann, Steve Noble, and Keith Tippett – was the meeting of three master musicians pushing at the edges of improvisation, and pushing each other into areas where they put themselves on the line rather than sitting back on their formidable reputations. This was also the first time Tippett and Brötzmann had been together on stage for some years.
Brötzmann led the way with one of his characteristic rolling, repetitive riffs to bring the tide flooding in, to offer an uncompromising base which would, nevertheless, allow melody to seep in and which suddenly dissipated when Tippett and Noble took off on a light duet, all sticks and quirky harpsichord sounds, a temporary move into prepared piano territory.
Tippett’s complexity and dexterity flashed Cecil Taylor with Conlon Nancarrow. Ultra-attentive to Brötzmann’s imperatives, he visibly strained to push himself to the limit and fashion the responses that would maintain the generative flux and continually lead to new pathways.
Noble took it all in his stride, with Tippett to his right and Brötzmann to his left, building up thunderous rumbles as Brötzmann worried his tenor and bringing a lightness of touch to intense passages with Tippett. Hand held cymbals, sticks held vertically to the snare, elbows tautening the skins – each gesture added punctuation, timbres and percussive melody to the discourse.
The dialogue had its calm spells, too. Brötzmann, who swapped alto sax for his metal clarinet and then tárogató, was at his most lyrical in a serpentine second set excursion that started with the slow burn of echoing gongs and bells and crossed Township jazz with an extreme piano-led blues and a rampant charge through the foothills of Coltrane’s Giant Steps. When Tippett utilised a tiny mechanical musical box and Noble added maracas, the change of scale was a touch of blue sky, the precursor of a beautifully poetic spell that they crafted within the hyper-energetic surge.
Peter Brötzmann: saxophones, clarinet, tárogató
Steve Noble: drums, percussion
Keith Tippett: piano