Conrad Bauer, Ulrich Gumpert, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, and Gunter Sommer are old-time collaborators in the German free Jazz scene. Their group, Zentralquartett, is a combination of outstanding European free playing, tempered by Dutch humor. The results are wondrous and, significantly, accessible.
Some highlights from Careless Love:The title piece is played like a drunken donkey, evoking the best of Carla Bley's twisted excursions. The swaggering 'bone of Conrad Bauer, on Careless Love and elsewhere, is joyous, delicious, and raunchy. Similarly, Ulrich Gumpert (who proves himself the best composer of the bunch), contributes a rollicking, woozy "Dinner Music," not unrelated to (yet not derivative of) Bley's tune of the same name. Here, the slobbering trombone against the edgy piano should win converts. Ernst Ludwig -Petrowsky is stunning throughout, and even offers a startlingly exciting free clarinet solo on Bauer's "Zopf." The only detraction is the rare silliness to which the performers sometimes descend. The opening rapping of the collective on "Napf Blues," for example, and the joint singing on Sommer's "Sauferblues," are slight disappointments, but fun nevertheless.
Careless Love succeeds on most counts, and should please most connoisseurs of the avant-garde.