Raymond MacDonald / Gunter Baby Sommer – “Delphinus & Lyra” CF 086
Here it is, naked to the bone, free jazz in all its glory, loose, intense and furious, not in hanger but with “joie de vivre.” A sax-drums duo like this, in which one of the performers is Gunter “Baby” Sommer, a hallowed name in European improvised music, makes you anticipate an essentialist approach to the communicative powers of improvisation. This is an encounter of generations, German percussionist and free-jazz pioneer Sommer meets a new presence on the international scene, Scottish saxophonist (and a psychologist, who uses sounds as a therapy for the mentally handicapped) MacDonald. We are all musical, the Glasgow-based MacDonald has lectured. From this universal musicality grow infra-music and hyper-music, music before and after music, nuclear and at the same time cosmic, on the path blazed by John Coltrane and Rashied Ali. The Sommer-MacDonald duo isn’t as spiritual, but the celebration of life is the same. Back in the 60s and 70s Sommer was part of the gang that included Peter Brotzmann, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Peter Kowald, Evan Parker, Leo Smith, and Cecil Taylor when the world was challenged by a new music that rejected both traditional jazz and academic classical composition. He, with his unusual drum kit and literary collaborations, is a living monument. MacDonald is far from being mesmerized by the personal history of his partner: he himself gained the status of one of the most important reedmen in the United Kingdom, with the Burt-MacDonald Quintet, the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and gigs with Keith Tippett, Maggie Nicols, Lol Coxhill, Harry Beckett, and other notables. You can’t ignore the energy and fresh perspectives in this joint venture.