Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky - Luten at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz

The Free Jazz Collective 0

By Martin Schray

Together with Conny Bauer and Günter “Baby“ Sommer, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky was probably the proverbial personification of jazz in the German Democratic Republic. Between official disdain and cultural-political recognition, he upheld this music in East Germany and developed a very unique style of his own. In this ideological rollercoaster between the government’s renunciation for jazz as a capitalist incitement of youth and cultural-political approval as a musical genre to be promoted in the ensemble of the arts of the GDR, he unflinchingly developed this robustly independent alto saxophone and clarinet style that can be placed somewhere between Charlie Parker, Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman. Petrowsky’s sound could purr, nestle, caress and warm you. But it could also crash, rattle, squeal and smack you right in the face. It could be angry and accusatory. And it could - as the late German writer and journalist Wiglaf Droste said - “blow your head off like a bullet from a .45 Magnum, which (had) the inestimable advantage that the head was still on and whole afterwards“. Nevertheless, one’s perception of music is different after listening to Luten Petrovsky’s music. You are sensitized to other sounds. You are literally freer to engage with them. And all this can be wonderfully verified by this new release with Alexander von Schlippenbach on piano and Christian Lillinger on drums, released shortly before Petrowsky’s death in July.

In May 2011, after a break of almost three decades, free Jazz was back in the film theater in Peitz, where the Jazzwerkstatt Peitz festivals were launched in the early 1970s. And who could build this bridge better than these three musicians: Petrowsky and Schlippenbach (aged 77 and 73, respectively, in 2011) had known each other for a long time, as Petrowsky had been part of the Globe Unity Orchestra for many years, and Christian Lillinger (then 27) was the rising star of the German free jazz scene; he and Petrowsky had previously played together in the New Old Luten Trio. So it was a clash of generations - and what a superb one it was.

Luten at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz consists of two pieces, the 32-minute “Auf ein Neues“ and “Freie Improvisation“. You get to hear the firebreather Petrowsky in the first seventeen minutes of the first piece, where he lets his alto saxophone howl, fueled by Schlippenbach’s mighty clusters and Lillinger’s scurrying drums (interrupted only by a brief, thoughtful piano/drums duet). He then switches to the clarinet and plays incredibly tender passages that Schlippenbach punctuates with very somber chords in the lower registers. However, the second part of the piece accelerates almost imperceptibly, the two old warhorses slowly increasing tempo and intensity. Lillinger uses brushes, he seems almost impatient and inspires clarinet and piano to hurry up, which is what happens. The last four minutes are pure fireworks, a hail of bullets, a flash flood. The music literally rolls over.

In summary, this is a great recording, wonderful music not only for lovers of European free jazz of the 1970s (but also for them, of course).

Luten at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz is available as a CD.

Listen to “Auf ein Neues“ here:


Thu Sep 14 05:00:00 GMT 2023