Peter Brötzmann and Jason Adasiewicz
Ballroom Marfa welcomed these two musicians for a night of hybrid jazz at the Crowley Theater. Adasiewicz’s collaboration with Brötzmann ranged from gamelan-like plinks and plonks to soothing tones that stretched out underneath the manic activity of the saxophone. The resulting performance alternated between complex rhythms and discernible melodies, a cacophony of reedy outbursts and metallic tones, and a field of Adasiewicz’s placid drones upon which Brötzmann splattered his shrieks and skronks.
Free jazz saxophonist Peter Brötzmann makes his instrument bray, wheeze, blare and scream, a righteous chorus of sounds described in his AllMusic biography as “emotion-driven white noise.” Thus his work with vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz comes as a bit of a revelation, when according to New York Times critic Nate Chinen, it “flirts with outright beauty.”
The 71-year-old Brötzmann is an undisputed hero within the intimidating world of free jazz. Brötzmann started off as a visual artist in Wuppertal, Germany. Self-taught, he first began playing clarinet and saxophone in the late-50s, and quickly progressed to mounting a transcendent sonic assault informed by titanic free-jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler. Since then he’s released scores of material under his own name — 1968’s Machine Gun being the canonized entry point. A lifetime of collaboration has seen him recording with groups such as the Die Like a Dog Quartet, and seemingly every free jazz musician of note. His steps outside of the genre include work with Japanese noise musician Keiji Haino and avant-garde polymaths Bill Laswell and John Zorn.
Jason Adasiewicz is a 34-year-old vibraphonist hailing from Chicago, and in keeping with the city’s longstanding cross-pollination of jazz and indie rock — see the work of Rob Mazurek as well as the iconic post-rock group Tortoise — he has played with Edith Frost and Pinetop Seven as well as the avant-garde ensemble Exploding Star Orchestra. Adasiewicz began his career studying jazz drums, a background that informs his unique style, as he explained in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune:
“I’m interested in hitting the instrument as hard as I can to create these overtones that you’re not supposed to create … when you learn how to play, you learn a lot about dampening and articulating your lines so it doesn’t all blur together — and I’m trying to do the complete opposite, which is embracing what the instrument does. It rings.”
Listeners curious to preview the rising musician’s work should look no further than his 2010 LP Sun Rooms, an album that the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Jazz Times all pointed to as one of the standout releases of the year.
Support for this project provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston, TX and Ballroom Marfa members. Special thanks to Arts and Recreation, The Big Bend Sentinel, Dan Chamberlin, Rob Crowley, Tim Crowley and Jennifer Bell of the Crowley Theater, Marfa Independent School District, Marfa Public Radio, Marfa Recording Company, Mitchell Waechter and Cynthia Wimberly.