Conrad Bauer

Hummelsummen. INTAKT CD 085 / 2003

Eine geschlagene Stunde lang Posaune solo: Das klingt ein wenig nach jener Art von avantgardistischer Kulturveranstaltung, bei der Woody Allen (in «Small Time Crooks») verstohlen nach dem Ausgang schielt. Aber nicht, wenn es sich bei dem Mann, der da spielt, um den polyphonen Zauberer Conrad Bauer han delt. Auf «Hummelsummen» (Intakt Records), seinem fünften Soloalbum, zeigt sich der deutsche Musiker nicht nur als atemberaubender Techniker und furchtloser Sammler, sondern als versponnener, packender Geschichtenerzähler.
.© NZZ am Sonntag; 2003-09-28


Bauer war mit seinem «Zentralquartett» eine Säule des Freejazz in der DDR, danach in zahlreichen Kollaborationen aktiv. Wie detail- und nuancenreich sein Spiel ist, kann auf dieser wunderbaren Solo-Aufnahme in 7 Stücken nachverfolgt werden. Filigran, kräftig, humorvoll - alles da. Niemals nerven, immer fröhlich verühren, könnte das Credo sein. Aufgenommen im akustischen Klangraum einer Kriche ist diese Aufnahme ein ganz grosses Stück Musik.
Honker, TERZ, Düsseldorf, November 2003



There’s a special kind of satisfaction I derive when an artist who can compete on contemporary terms with anyone he chooses opts instead to create as befits his own idiosyncratic nature, spurning the fashionable, opening himself up to criticism of being a fuddy-duddy and not caring. I can’t say for certain whether or not any of this entered Bauer’s mind when recording this fine solo trombone disc, but damn if it doesn’t sound like it. Bauer, slightly younger than Albert Mangelsdorff and Paul Rutherford, a good bit older than George Lewis, knows the ins and outs of post-Rudd trombone as well as anyone and can—and does—exploit almost any conceivable extended technique but he also refers back to a proud tradition that most others have abandoned as being too…affected, too obtrusive: the ebullient, joyful strut. There’s a real danger, of course, of coming off like a peacock with shallow, flashy displays of virtuosity masking the lack of substance, but Bauer positively spills over with confidence and more, a youthful sense of delighted surprise at what he uncovers.
The seven pieces appear to be composed, at least to the extent of each having a central idea and something of a form. The disc opens appropriately with “Wilkommen und Abschied”, all unserious bluster and glad-handing, as though Bauer’s inviting you into his expansive home. Other tracks feature multiphonics (including a bit of Tuvan-style singing on “Hokuspokus”), overtones, hocketing and much more. “Klage” is something of a dirge, a lovely lament that echoes classics like “Lonely Woman”. He ends on an up note with the title track, an extremely playful frolic where Bauer seems barely able to contain his joy at what’s bubbling up. Throughout, both his gorgeous tone and the wealth of ideas give one a very full sense; you’re rarely thinking that this is “just” solo trombone. His conception renders that perception entirely beside the point. More, as in the work of the best improvising soloists, you have the feeling of being in the presence of a master storyteller, in this case one who fills his tales with jokes, heightened drama and even romance. Indeed, “romantic” wouldn’t be too inappropriate an adjective to describe Bauer’s approach here. That angle is a dangerous one—there are few things worse than second-rate romanticism—but with Bauer it seems to be entirely natural and unforced. He may be a kind of anti-Malfatti as far as contemporary trombonists, but shows that, as usual, there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat, more than one pathway that may prove viable. Highly recommended. ~
Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen, November 2003, USA


Trombonist Conrad Bauer is one of those musicians one can depend on to be consistently awe-inspiring. His full, clarion tone, spectacular control of extended techniques, and ability to blend wistful melodicism with energetic bluster never fail to stand out in any context. Since the early '70s, he has been honing his approach to improvisation in the long-standing group Zentralquartett with Ulrich Gumpert, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, and Günter Sommer; the group Doppelmoppel (with brother Johannes); or as a member of countless improvisation projects. But along the way he has continued to return to the solo setting, where he has found a fertile setting for his ingenious sonic explorations. On this recording, his fifth solo outing, the lively acoustics of the room play a central role in the improvisations (Bauer has recorded in both a drained water storage tank and a cavernous war monument previously). The resonance of his horn reverberating in the room adds shading and shadows to his meticulously shaped lines. Fleet, angular flurries, and sinuous melodies make way for brayed barrages, hovering multiphonics, and growled smears. His high-note blasts ring through the room then dive down to buzzing bass rumbles. But all of this is threaded together with a sense of thoughtful flow shot through with wry humor and a sense of joyful exploration. Intakt's trio release with Bauer, Sommer, and Peter Kowald was one of last year's stunners. With this solo, Bauer delivers another that is bound to end up on many year-end lists.
Michael Rosenstein, Coda, Canada, Mai 2004


Seit drei Jahrzehnten gibt Connie Bauer Solo-Konzerte. Wie kein zweiter ist der Berliner Posaunist, der letzten Sommer sechzig wurde, den Tücken seines Instruments auf der Spur - einmal mehr auf seinem fünften Solo-Album. Rasant geht Bauer Themen, Motive und Melodien an, mischt Marsch mit Bebop, freier Improvisation und neuer Musik, kriecht in verschiedene Ecken jedweder Tradition. Mitunter schleicht sich ein Zitat ein, ansonsten ist der Posaunist nirgends (und doch überall) zu verorten. Wenn er gelegentlich in melodienseliges Schwärmen gerät, führt er in Folge den Zuhörer auf mehrstimmiges Parkett. Jedes der sieben Stücke dieser beachtlichen Solo-Platte hat seinen eigenen Charakter. Ob Obertongesang, melancholische Ballade oder swingende Stilistik: stets passieren verschiedene Dinge gleichzeitig. Die Verbindungen führt Bauer aus oder deutet sie an in einem fortlaufenden Strom. Da ist ihm stupende Technik dienlich, die nie Selbstzweck wird. Bauer geht es nicht um blosses Ausloten tonaler Strukturen um bestimmter Effekte willen, sondern um das Erfinden neuer Töne und Melodien. Bei aller Spintisiererei und Tüftelei ist er ein grosser Erzähler geblieben. Und, so John Corbett im Booklet, "einer der radikalsten originellen Stimmen in der improvisierten Musik".
Reiner Kobe, Jazzpodium 3/04



L'evoluzione del trombone ha qualcosa di spettacolare, se pensiamo al suo ruolo originario di riempitivo e lo paragoniamo al linguaggio dei vari J.J. Johnson o Christian Lindberg.
Il jazz ha un ruolo di primo piano in quest'opera d'emancipazione dai vincoli europei. Dai tempi di Kid Ory il trombone si e' imposto come strumento sempre piu' flessibile ed espressivo, contagiando il mondo della classica, che in anni recenti lo ha visto emergere come solista e in ensemble d'ottoni modellati sui Canadian Brass.
Il trombone ha un'estensione molto vicina a quella della voce maschile, l'emissione meno compressa rispetto alla tromba rende piu' accessibile l'uso di tecniche vocali polifoniche e l'inserimento di 'sporcature', come gli effetti growl. La coulisse permette di uscire dall'intonazione temperata e muoversi all'interno dei semitoni.
In Europa, Conrad Bauer e' uno dei piu' assidui frequentatori del trombone solo, forte di completezza tecnica e vasta padronanza idiomatica.
Al contrario di molti suoi colleghi europei, non ha paura dello swing e della tradizione jazz, bebop e anteriore. In lui ritroviamo parte della lezione di Roswell Rudd, al fianco di Johnson, Joe Nanton e altri.
Bauer conosce bene anche l'uso contemporaneo del suo strumento, dal quale desume strategie compositive e capacita' di forzarne i limiti.
I brani di Hummelsummen sono studi stilistici molto compatti: esplorazioni tematiche, variazioni su tecniche non ortodosse, richiami a diverse tradizioni.
Una figura di walking bass sembra sottostare a Willkommen und Abschied, dove semiminime marcate, dal timbro sporco, sono la base swingante di un'architettura ampia e logica.
Hokuspokus presenta un andamento ritmico simile, ma l'ambito melodico e' molto ristretto e il lavorio di Bauer si concentra sulle sfumature dinamiche e di articolazione.
Klage riporta l'attenzione sul canto e la semplicita' melodica. Uno studio sul pianissimo, dai toni evocativi, mistici, accentuati dall'impiego degli armonici che avvicina il trombone al djeridoo e alle trombe tibetane. Alla fine emerge solenne un accenno al Lonely Woman di Ornette Coleman.
Le tecniche vocali e multifoniche piu' estreme sono al centro di Geheimnis, che con Klage costituisce quasi un dittico, ben posto al centro dell'album.
Frolisches Dur torna all'andamento concitato dei brani d'apertura e Hummelsummen condensa, in quasi dodici minuti, le tematiche esposte in precedenza.
E' un disco severo, ma non ostico, dove la concentrazione non esclude la brillantezza. Con Hummelsummen Conrad Bauer conferma la sua posizione di primo piano nel panorama mondiale degli ottoni gravi.
Valutazione: * * * *
Valerio Prigiotti, All About Jazz Italia. March 2005


Philippe Renaud, Improjazz, France, June 2005


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