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Music from Europe (1966)

Gunter Hampel Group

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Album Review

This CD is the debut from two of the premier pioneering creative improvising musicians that in time became the most enduring players in their style. While peers of Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and Archie Shepp, German Gunter Hampel and Dutch native Willem Breuker were introduced to American audiences with this breakthrough recording, now on its second straight reissue for the ESP-Disk label. Hampel is clearly a devotee of Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, doubles on vibraphone, and handles the flute on occasion. Breuker also wields the low-end woodwind Hampel prefers, as well as alto clarinet, and his full arsenal of saxophones from soprano to baritone. The near-22-minute seven-part epic suite "Assemblage" kicks off with a slight melody before Hampel and Breuker immediately slam the transmission into fifth gear, wailing into polyphony with ferocious abandon. They switch instruments almost as furiously, slowing and speeding up, churning, using written and improvised passages with Hampel's shimmering vibes and Breuker's whirring overblown unrefined phrases standing apart from a drum solo by Pierre Courbois, Hampel's flute, or Breuker's bass clarinet. "Heroicredolphysiognomystery" show the all-pervasive influence of Dolphy, extant in the introductory soprano/flute workout contrasting the arco bass from Piet Veening and clattery percussion via Courbois, building to a consistently intense and dense wall of sound, then surprisingly calming in a classic signature vibes solo from Hampel. "Make Love, Not War, To Everybody" is not so much a peace chant or mantra as it is a call to arms, identified by slide whistle, pizzicato bass, bowed cymbals all in hushed tones, sparse vibes, tambourine, and sliding bass restrained, then unleashed on Breuker's cue to a full-force phalanx of anxious, scattered warriors battling, then fading to triple pianissimo sexual hums, moans, and a satisfied, joyful clarion climax, all as the title suggests. Admittedly a recording for the challenged listener, with the caveat that these musicians are in their age of discovery, it bears historical and empirical substance as a recording not only reflecting the turbulent times, but part of an era that established personal freedoms for many thousands of players who followed, strived, and continue to stride alongside them. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 31 August 1937 in Göttingen, Germany

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Hampel is one of jazz's most prolific and self-reliant musicians. In 1969, he formed Birth Records to release The 8th of July 1969, an album of his compositions performed by a group that included Anthony Braxton, Jeanne Lee, Steve McCall, Willem Breuker, and Arjen Gorter. Since then, Birth has released nearly 50 albums of Hampel's work in a variety of configurations; some of his performance and recording groups...
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Music from Europe (1966), Gunter Hampel Group
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