German free-jazz pioneer Gunter Hampel with his Trio + Bass is headlining the Jazz Beyond Festival in Richmond on September 25. The event is being hosted by Richmond free-jazz unit New Loft and will also feature brianjonespercussionensemble and Chromatic Mysteries with Elliot Levin from Philadelphia. Hampel, a true multi-instrumentalist, explores the woodwind and percussion families […]
German free-jazz pioneer Gunter Hampel with his Trio + Bass is headlining the Jazz Beyond Festival in Richmond on September 25. The event is being hosted by Richmond free-jazz unit New Loft and will also feature brianjonespercussionensemble and Chromatic Mysteries with Elliot Levin from Philadelphia.
Hampel, a true multi-instrumentalist, explores the woodwind and percussion families equally: bass clarinet, vibraphone, saxophones, flute, and piano are all in play. Born in 1937 in Germany, he is best known for his recording The 8th of July, 1969, named for the date on which it was recorded. The work featured Anthony Braxton, Willem Breuker, and Hampel’s then wife Jeanne Lee. Music critic Nat Hentoff called it “a landmark of international music, with potential consequences we cannot even yet imagine.” Also in the 60s, Hampel began his own record label called Birth Records, on which he still releases his albums.
In the video below, Hampel performs in his hometown of Goettingen in 2007 with saxophonist Johannes Schleiermacher, drummer Bernd Oeszevim, and dancer Prince Alegs.
New Loft members Tim Harding (sax, bass, drums), Jimmy Ghaphery (sax), and Sam Byrd (drums), welcomed the chance to host Hampel’s group in Richmond.
Says Byrd of his experience listening to Hampel:
I first heard of him back in the ’80s, more just reading about him being Jeanne Lee’s husband (I had long been familiar with her from her work on Marion Brown’s Afternoon of a George Fawn, and on Carla Bley’s Escalator Over the Hill). I first heard Hampel in 1984 on Cecil Taylor’s masterwork Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants) and later also on the live Cecil big band stuff from the Berlin ’88 box, on the Atavistic reissue Globe Unity 67 & 70, and on his own 8th of July 1969 (with Braxton). His Galaxie Dream Band stuff (tons of albums) are relatively hard to come by… His vibes work on the Cecil big band stuff is really nice, fitting in perfectly with Cecil’s style, a kind of punctuation, a non-“vibes” vibe. His woodwind work on Winged Serpent and Globe Unity is strong, aggressive, I don’t want to say “typical European avant-garde jazz”-style, but he definitely holds his own with Jimmy Lyons, Peter Brotzmann, and Evan Parker.
New Loft has been performing in Richmond since 2000, although recently their main gig has been in Harding’s house. “We play almost every week in Tim’s living room and have been obsessive about documentation,” Ghaphery says. “For the past two years we have posted these recordings on the Internet Archive.”
In the past, however, they have been more active in public, playing their first gig at the Main Street Grill in September of 2000.
“Since then,” he continues, “we’ve been logging a gig here and there including some memorable out of town performances in DC, Charlottesville, and Chapel Hill. We have had the good fortune to be included on a number of Richmond shows through the 804Noise and HzCollective. Those shows are a lot of fun, where there is a wide variety of experimentation from laptops to amplified woks.”
Many will know Harding through his work with the Richmond super group Hotel X. Byrd’s Boston-based group UYA was featured on the Sun Ra compilation Wavelength Infinity: A Sun Ra Tribute, and Ghaphery was an original member of Hotel X before becoming devoted to improvised sounds and extended techniques. His solo work can also be found on the Internet Archive.
As almost every video of Hampel on YouTube suggests, music and dance is inseparable for the baseball-capped avant-gardist. He rarely stands still unless he’s behind a vibraphone, and interacting with improvising dancers is a vital aspect of the performances. With no dancer on the bill for Jazz Beyond Festival, we’re confident he’ll figure something out.
Jazz Beyond Festival featuring Gunter Hampel Trio + Bass, New Loft, brianjonespercussionensemble, and Chromatic Mysteries with Elliot Levin, takes place Friday, September 25, 2009, at The Camel (1621 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA). Tickets are $7.
Photo credit Michael Hoefner