The late, great Peter Brötzmann began to collaborate with Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love when Brötzmann joined in Frode Gjerstad Trio 2001 (Sharp Knives Cut Deeper, Splasc(H), 2023)). This inexhaustible, hard-hitting connection solidified when the percussionist joined the Chicago Tentet in 2004. They continued to work as a duo, different trios (with Mats Gustafsson, Steve Swell, Michiyo Yagi, Massimo Pupillo., and Fred Lonbeg-Holm) and the Hairy Bones quartet (with Toshinori Kondo and Pupillo).
Most of the recordings of Brötzmann and Nilssen-Love were captured during their live performances. But in August 2015 they booked a two-day session at Zuiderpershuis in Antwerp. Nilssen-Love tells in the liner notes that Brötzmann had acquired a contra-alto clarinet and was very enthusiastic about the sound of this instrument. Nilssen-Love had also bought several Korean gongs which he had not used yet. «This was a different situation for us. With more time on our hands, and with all the different horns and gongs, the music opened up in a new way. It was still intense but had darker and brighter moments, more transparency, stronger contrasts, and more air», Nilssen-Love writes.
And it feels, indeed, different from much of their work. Brötzmann expresses a touching and vulnerable kind of melodic lyricism most of the time, with only a few times calling the familiar, nervous and muscular eruptions, mainly on «Dancing Octopus» and the brief «Move on over». Brötzmann focuses on the clarinet family (including the tarogato and bass clarinet) and occasionally plays on the bass sax. Nilssen-love opts for a much more thoughtful and minimalist approach and embraces and caresses Brötzmann’s contemplative and soulful playing with poetic percussive touches that add depth and intriguing, resonating and sustained contrasts with his sets of new gongs He knows how to steer this emotional commotion with precision and imagination, and never stoops challenging the old master. And their rapport and level of engagement were as strong and deep as ever.
Chicken Shit Bingo marks a new, inspired and profound phase in the ongoing work of Brötzmann and Nilssen-Love. Luckily, as Nilssen-Love noted, «Music and memories, however, live on forever», and there is always the consolation of the sounds that Brötzmann left behind. A second volume from this studio session will be released later in 2024, along with an album of live recordings. The cover artwork is a woodcut made by Brötzmann.
Peter Brötzmann (tarogato, BB clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, bass saxophone, bass clarinet), Paal Nilssen-Love (drums, gongs, percussion)