Hans Koch meets London musicians In the winter of 2000, Hans Koch brought his bass clarinet, contrabassclarinet and soprano saxophone to London and embarked upon a series of live and studio encounters (in both duo and trio format) with some of the capital's finest free improvising residents. Koch, it seems, was determined to engage fully with his collaborators in a variety of combinations and hence discover, in a spirit of positive openness, the scope of their potential dynamic possibilities.
The disparate roll call also seemed to consolidate Koch's reputation for musical risk taking. It allowed him to embrace not only the closely controlled minutiae of Pat Thomas' electronics but the equally refined, yet utterly unique, voice/instrument of Phil Minton. Further encounters afforded him the opportunity to explore the sophisticated spontaneity of bassist John Edwards, percussionists Steve Noble and Roger Turner as well as a trio of string players whose lateral approach to their instruments' capabilities is continuing to open up and define new vistas of contemporary musical interpretation: violinist Phil Durrant, harpist Rhodri Davies and cellist Mark Wastell.
Judging from the results of the recording, Hans Koch obviously relished the role of visiting «wildcard» in this meeting of hearts and minds. He is, of course, a valued member of that coterie of cutting edge European improvisers who continue to both innovate and excite every time they make music. Indeed, his long-standing partnership with Martin Schutz and Fredy Studer is both revered and well documented within the world of free improvisation.
Furthermore, the breadth of his musical vision seamlessly integrates itself into the range of his chosen instrumentation. The bass clarinet and the soprano saxophone are as technically disparate to master as they are diverse in their sonic and textural signatures yet, as these pieces testify, Koch has full control of their combined spectrum and moves freely between them at will.
This results in highly intricate and detailed improvisations that seem to insinuate themselves into the listener's consciousness rather than overtly announce their presence. He is capable of intense, minimal quietude (which, for the most part, these pieces demonstrate) yet he is equally accomplished in replacing introvert inflection with the larger gesture and «cutting loose» when the moment requires it. The closing duo improvisation with John Edwards ably demonstrates this attribute. Yet the pervading mood of these collaborations is one of finesse and delicacy: a meeting of like minds intent on producing work of the highest calibre and extending both personal and collective musical vocabulary.
released January 1, 2004
Hans Koch: Sopransax, Bass- & Contrabassclarinet
Pat Thomas: Electronics
Phil Minton: Voice
Steve Noble: Drums, Percussion
Roger Turner: Drums, Percussion
Mark Wastell: Cello
Rhodri Davies: Harp
Phil Durrant: Violin
John Edwards: Bass