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El nino (2006)

Ned Rothenberg (bass & Bb clarinet, alto saxophone, shakuhachi)
Peter A.Schmid (contrabass, bass & Eb clarinet, subcontrabass saxophone / Bb Tubax)
Matthias Ziegler (contrabass, bass, alto & C flute, Matusi & quarter tone flute)
Creative Works Records CWR 1048



Liner notes by Meinrad Buholzer

Let me try with an analogy: imagine a conversation with a very well-read person. No titles are mentioned, no books are quoted and no names dropped. But this stock of literary knowledge - though unspoken - resonates throughout. The basis and inspiration - hinting at great depths and boundless openness. And now to music, to this CD 'El Nino'. It defies narrow categorization. To force it into any stylistic pattern would be a crime. Only the broadest possible definitions could fit, and that means the vaguest (and most meaningless). Nevertheless, just as in our imaginary literary conversation, the whole musical universe looms behind it, and resonates through it, fertilizing fruitfully, stimulating.This music doesn't come from nowhere. But it takes the existing and the known further, opening new roads, new vistas, pushing the boundaries of sound. Aside from the musical fabric, here newly woven, the three musicians also try to avoid the obvious and well-worn in their craft, the playing of music. They approach their instruments as if for the first time (provided, that is, that they know their instruments). Here are three soloists, each coming from a unique standpoint, dipping from their disparate backgrounds, feeling their way forward, seeking common ground - but never giving in. Setting counterpoints, and yet finally flowing into a common rhythm – sometimes only hinted at, sometimes dissolving again. Like rivers that meet and flood into a sea of sound. Lyrical interaction. The contact between Peter A. Schmid and Ned Rothenberg came about through Evan Parker. The first encounter occurred and is documented on the CD 'en passant'  (Creative Works Records CWR 1042) Rothenberg - who once said 'I don't take up a style, I take up people.' shows himself interested in a further collaboration, which also includes Schmid's partner Matthias Ziegler. In March of 2005, this trio came together. They performed two concerts and the tracks on this CD. 'Instant compositions', without elaborate arrangements but - as Schmid stresses 'with wide open ears'. Improvisations bound to the moment, now open to a wider circle thanks to this CD. Further concerts are planned. A word about the title, 'El Nino'. It refers to a weather phenomenon frequently affecting the Pacific Ocean and the west coast of Latin America, a complex confluence of water temperature and air currents. So what does it have to do with our trio? Wind instruments! Here too, air currents (just one key word: circular breathing) if not storms and drought triggered and the climate unforeseeably changed. But what the air currents in this microcosm trigger is just as complex and amazing for us, the listener - call it unforehearable! Take the time for this music - but of course, you should do that for any music which deserves the name. Get involved in the sounds, open yourself to it, let it permeate you, try to receive it and resonate to it. And experience this exchange, this rapprochement and responsiveness and finally - I can't express it any other way - this grandiose resolution.



CD review (www.downtownmusicgallery.com)

Featuring Peter Schmid on E-flat, bass & contrabass clarinets & subcontrabass sax (or tubax), Ned Rothenberg on alto sax, B-flat & bass clarinets & shakuhachi and Matthias Ziegler on C, bass & contrabass flutes, Matusi & quarter-tone flutes. Peter Schmid is known for playing some rather unusual reed instruments like the tubax, plays in the September Winds and has done duo discs with Evan Parker and Ned Rothenberg. Matthias Ziegler is a virtuoso on a variety of flutes and has work with Mark Dresser, has some hard to find discs out as well as a solo disc ('Uakti') on New Albion. Ned Rothenberg we know well through his 26+ years as a prominent member of the downtown network with dozens of solo, duo, trio and group projects & recordings. In some ways, this trio is not that different from New Winds, which included Ned, Robert Dick, J.D. Parran and Herb Robertson.

"El Nino" is a superbly recorded endeavor, with rich, warm and most expressive sounds made from numerous flutes and clarinets. Although these pieces consist of either trio or duo improvisations, all three musicians share a similar palette of sounds and breathe or circular-breathe together. Each piece is quite fascinating as they explore different textures, tempos and combinations of odd sounds. They employ tapping, bent notes, drones, breathy sounds and other acoustic devices that alter their notes in unique ways. What is most amazing is when certain combinations of sounds come together to produce these mesmerizing ghost-like sounds that take us away on journey to the stars. A cosmic feeling that can't be explained, but can certainly be felt.