|Recorded in 1998... the three pieces fall comfortably into a long-form, open presentation of thematic improvisation that feels even older – with its roots, say, in the freeing of forms that occurred during the ‘60s – while making allusions to and referencing details to be found throughout the history of jazz. This is neither an act of stylistic appropriation nor conscious postmodern juxtapositioning, but an organic collective response reflecting the individual life experiences of these particular musicians, as artists from different generations, different geographical locations, different musical environments (making even the group name, Fellowship, with its echoes of ‘60s cooperative optimism, all the more apt). — Art Lange
This unexpected treasure features an incredible sextet from different places & backgrounds: Charlie Mariano on alto sax (US & Europe), Petra Vysniauskas on soprano sax (Lithuania), Theo Jorgensmann on clarinet, Karl Berger on vibes & piano (Germany & Woodstock, NY), Kent Carter on contrabass (US & France) and Klaus Kugel on drums (Germany & NYC). This is Mr. Jorgensmann's forth CD for Hatology, besides having a quintet date on Konnex. The great drummer, Klaus Kugel, being the only consistent member in all of these previous bands with Theo. Considering that I was not very familiar with Mr. Jorgensmann or Mr. Vysniauskas before this disc, I was blown away by this gem. 'Fellowship' was actually recorded live in April of 1998 and not released until now. What we find here is just three nearly 20 minute pieces, written by ensemble members Karl Berger, Jorgensmann and Kent Carter. Karl's "Nameless Child" begins slowly and elegantly with all three reeds (alto, soprano & clarinet) swirling superbly around Mr. Berger's exquisite piano. The piece continues to build until the sextet hit their stride with a modal sort of groove, Petras sailing on his soprano over the burning rhythm team. I recently caught Karl Berger playing at the opening night of the Don Cherry fest at The Stone and realized once more what an incredible pianist he is - his playing is ever so rich, soulful, tasty and consistently creative. Still, it is the alto solo by elder statesman & longtime US expat, Charlie Mariano that truly soars powerfully up to the heavens. Theo's "Nightmare" is next and has the rhythm team with Karl Berger now on vibes spinning powerfully together. Theo takes an incredible solo on the clarinet, certainly he must be included amongst the best on this instrument. Another under-recognized giant here is drummer Klaus Kugel, who has been playing in NY more recently with Roy Campbell and has a recent disc out with the Syntopia Quartet. Kent Carter's "It Will Come" starts quietly with a fine bass and soprano duet, which just gets better as it evolves, the complex theme soon erupts and is played tightly and passionately by the sextet, the rich harmonies make this piece very special. An outstanding offering from the beginning to the end!