- No Exercise
- Three Problems
- Bea´s Flat
- Love in the Middle of the Air (alt master)
- All Tones
- The Fugue #2 (Take 1)
Brains On Fire
Music that revises definitions and provides new standards for the merging of jazz and contemporary composition.
Remastered from original sources by Malcolm Addey.
Brains On Fire presents, for the very first time on two compact discs, some of the innovative early works of pianist/composer Heiner Stadler. These works, written and conceived over 40 years ago, are examples of what are arguably some of the most creatively and unjustly neglected amalgamations of the jazz and contemporary classical traditions. The follow-up release to the critically acclaimed Tribute To Bird And Monk (LAB 7074), Brains On Fire features groundbreaking compositions recorded between 1966 and 1974 that still sound as fresh and stimulating today as when they were first performed. The eight original compositions comprising this remarkable set reveal the mindset of the vastly innovative Stadler in his utilization of the instrumental and improvisatory skills of some of the day’s most accomplished players from both the United States and Europe. Noted author Howard Mandel contributes elucidating liner notes.
In bringing together artists of distinctly varied backgrounds and reputations, Stadler defied the separatist system of the time that divided performers into virtually warring camps: classical versus jazz, mainstream versus avant-garde. Composition and improvisation come together, in a confluence that realizes some truly amazing music. The album opens with two previously unreleased tracks, No Exercise and Three Problems, featuring Stadler at the piano in the company of powerhouse tenor saxophonist Tyrone Washington and virtuoso bassist Reggie Workman, forming a sextet with trumpeter Jimmy Owens, trombonist Garnett Brown and drummer Brian Brake in the former composition and, with the young Lenny White on drums, a quartet in the latter. Stadler’s imaginative blending of traditions is displayed along with his distinctive pianistic approach. Heidi, one of Stadler’s most satisfying performances on record, brings to light an intriguing work that deserves much greater attention than it received when it was first released.
Filling out the set’s first disc is one of Stadler’s earlier works, an arrangement of Bea’s Flat, a blues written by Russ Freeman for trumpeter Chet Baker. Arranged in 1966 and recorded in 1974, it features The Big Band of the North German Radio conducted by Dieter Glawischnig and features some of the most important players of the then burgeoning European jazz avant-garde, including, cornetist Manfred Schoof, tenor saxophonist Gerd Dudek, trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, pianist Wolfgang Dauner, bassist Lucas Lindholm and drummer Tony Inzalaco, in some of their most inspired performances on a work of dramatic proportions.
Disc Two opens with a 20 plus minute alternate master of Love In The Middle Of The Air, the tour de force duet between bassist Workman and vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater; this is a chilling recitation of the Lenore Kandel poem, the original version of which Eugene Chadbourne described in Cadence magazine as “an absolute must for anyone who likes Dee Dee Bridgewater at all.” Two more Stadler pieces, UCS and All Tones, by the quartet with Washington, Workman and White follow, each excitingly displaying the composer’s innovative writing, uniting composition and improvisation on equal planes. The disc concludes with Stadler’s The Fugue #2, featuring a sextet with trumpeter Owens–playing one of the finest solos of his career–, trombonist Brown, and a fiery Joe Farrell on tenor sax together with the rhythm section of Don Friedman, Barre Phillips and Joe Chambers (then associated with Third Stream icon Jimmy Giuffre) in an ingenious blending of jazz and modern classical traditions.
- Featuring a group of top-notch musicians from New York and Europe
- Showcases Dee Bridgewater’s free-falling aerialistics aided by legendary bassist Reggie Workman
- Re-introduces formidable reedman Tyrone Washington, one of the forgotten giants of the past
www.gapplegatemusicreview.blogspot.com (May 2012)
www.italia.allaboutjazz.com (All About Jazz Italia)
The New York City Jazz Record (PDF)
A mere five minutes into the program?s bursting, exploratory opener, No Exercise, I was hooked. Heiner Stadler?s eclectic composition combined with the caliber of performers at the table make for a delectable experience. Stadler?s jazz is smart, using traditional blues forms with 12-tone heads and crossing into choruses that can be tough to discern as improvised. These recordings range from 1966 to 1971, and three tracks were never released before. Heidi is a gem of expression, and the recording brings the listener extremely close to the players. Bea?s Flat, the longest piece at over 24 minutes, uses a full big band. Falls, hits, and screeches all appear, but the harmonic language Stadler uses brings European compositional techniques to bear with American immediacy and expression. The joining of the two creates pieces that still sound fresh and enjoyable.
--Kraig Lamper / American Record Guide
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