German, Berlin-based drummer-composer Max Andrzejewski was invited to present at the 42nd Leipzig Jazztage a tribute to a British musician. He chose one of his – and many many others – hero, iconoclast drummer-improviser-singer-songwriter and political activist Robert Wyatt, who retired from creating music five years ago. Andrzejewski saw in Wyatt a true spiritual brother, whose rich, genre-defying aesthetics corresponds with his own musical language, as expressed in the previous albums of his Hütte group. Wyatt himself already endorsed this project as «great for my sense of still being alive».
Andrzejewski arranged nine songs of Wyatt to his sextet, featuring Turkish singer Cansu Tanrıkulu as the lead vocalist. The songs encompasses Wyatt work since his work with Matching Mole in the early seventies and going through his solo albums, beginning with his magnificent «Rock Bottom» (Virgin, 1974) until «Comicopera» (Domino, 2007). More than a decade ago. The arrangements of Andrzejewski‘s Hütte attempt to keep Wyatt’s loose and sparse ones but are rooted in the fusion-jazz legacy of Miles Davis’ «Bitches Brew» and Carla Bley’s «Escalator Over the Hill», with modest orchestrations compared to recent tributes to Wyatt as the Orchestre National De Jazz of Daniel Yvinec’s «Around Robert Wyatt» (Bee Jazz, 2009) or North Sea Radio Orchestra featuring John Greaves and Annie Barbazza, «Folly Bololey (Songs From Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom)» (Dark companion, 2019).
Andrzejewski‘s Hütte focuses on the humorous and ironic aspects of Wyatt’s love songs and his quirky, unconventional musical ideas (after all, Wyatt himself said that he is «just a very primitive, infantile folk singer») and less on his merciless political insights. The playful, jazzy delivery of Tanrıkulu roughs up and tosses these one-of-a-kind «revolutionary lullabies» as «The Duchess» and «Cuckoo Madam», but lacks Wyatt inherent poignancy. Wyatt’s sense of dark and painful urgency is kept on the two versions of «Little Red Riding Hood Hits the Road» (the only song from «Rock Bottom») and the last two songs of Matching Mole – «Instant Kitten» and «Starting in the Middle of the Day (We Can Drink Our Politics Away)», where Andrzejewski’s drumming brings to mind the ecstatic playing of Wyatt in Soft Machine and in Matching Mole. The only political song is the prophetic «N.I.O. (New Information Order)» (from «Dondestan», Domino, 1991).
Uneven, but a loving, emotional homage to the great Robert Wyatt.
Johannes Schleiermacher (s, fl, synth), Tobias Hoffmann (g), Andreas Lang (b), Max Andrzejewski (dr, v), Cansu Tanrıkulu (v, eff), Jörg Hochapfel (org, g, v)