Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Manfred Schoof - 1978 - Light Lines

Manfred Schoof 
Light Lines

01. Source 11:09
02. Light Lines 6:12
03. Criterium 5:51
04. Lonesome Defender 7:18
05. Resonance 7:06

Manfred Schoof - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Michel Pilz - Bass Clarinet
Jasper Van't Hof - Piano, Electric Piano, Organ
Günter Lenz - Bass
Ralf Hübner - Drums

What distinguished him from the avant-garde demimonde was an insistence on melodic integrity. For Schoof, “the term ‘free’ not only stands for a specific style of jazz that, in its beginnings, opposed with revolutionary gesture everything redolent of the past and reminiscent of tradition but rather the freedom to choose between a multitude of very different means of expression. Tradition, therefore, is viewed as a past experience that merges with and enriches a new style of sound.” His band mates in these recordings include Pilz, pianists Jasper van ‘t Hof and Rainer Brüninghaus, bassist Günter Lenz, and drummer Ralf-R. Hübner, most of whom will be familiar to the more adventurous ECM listeners.

Source introduces the second disc with the world of Light Lines. The middle of this JAPO sandwich finds Schoof swimming in an ocean of fire. Overall, the sound is more sparkling by way of Hübner’s clear and present kit work. The album boasts not only its own title track, a splash of sonic goodness in which Schoof’s trumpet is the very image of a bird in flight, but also that of the set as a whole. “Resonance,” for that matter, is more than a catchy word. It is the credo of a musician whose focus unnerves with its precision. Working through the changes like a card shark riffling to his cull, he holds our attention by means of powerful misdirection. “Criterium” and “Lonesome Defender” round things out, on the one hand, the glint of a blade catching sunlight and, on the other, an evocative blend of sweet and savory flavors.
Two worthy, if confected, tracks have been elided from Horizons—strange when you consider the collection could have accommodated both. “The Abstract Face Of Beauty,” penned by Hübner, paints a vista of clouds and barren land, every bit the sonic analogue to the album’s cover, and features prime soulful blowing from Pilz. “Sunrise” taps a similarly rubato vein and throws the spotlight on Schoof’s technical prowess. The 14-minute loss isn’t likely to matter to those new to this material, of whom many listeners of Resonance are likely to be. In any event, Schoof himself assembled the included tracks, and one can only imagine his good reason.

Although he is one diamond in a mine already chock full of them, Manfred Schoof deserves any ECM fan’s close attention. As a composer, he builds a welcoming world. As a player, he turns fantasy inside out and makes it feel possible. Like the solo concerts of Keith Jarrett, if the reader will forgive the otherwise groundless simile, his pieces are distinguished by their ostinatos, which thrum with the invisible energy of ley lines. This is music that looks at itself in the mirror and asks, “Am I the reflection after all?”

Tyran Grillo

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