The Comet is Coming in Berlin: Monsters of Jazz

The power trio, an invention of the 1960s, when rock music was first adequately amplified electrically and the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream blew the dust off the old bones of the blues, never caught on in jazz. Exceptions include Albert Ayler and Peter Brötzmann. These are not the worst references for the British tenor saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, who in his various formations explores the entire spectrum from the spiritual power of the overtone to the compressed intensity of white noise.

Space travelers grounded in London’s club culture

His trio The Comet is Coming is at the lower end of this scale, with which the jazz musician Hutchings, who calls himself King Shabaka in this band incarnation, has come as close as possible to the ideal of the power trio. This can be experienced on Thursday in the Festsaal Kreuzberg, where Hutchings, keyboarders Dan Leavers and drummer Maxwell Hallett, all space travelers with one leg grounded in London club culture, perform a brilliant interpretation of cosmic music. The “cosmic” is due in equal parts to the influence of the great Saturnian Sun Ra and the Berlin School of Tangerine Dream and Manuel Göttsching.

Spiritual influences from jazz history have almost disappeared on their fourth album with the descriptive title “Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam”: And Leavers, surrounded by a tower of analogue keyboards, is also placed in the foreground on stage.

He dominates the sound, a confident concession from the bandleader, who knows that while people are coming for him, in the case of The Comet is Coming, they’re expecting a rave show. Accordingly, the audience is divided into jazz heads and club kids. The latter are more likely to get their money’s worth this evening; also fans of the Canadian progressive band Rush (another formidable power trio!) on the “Moving Pictures” era.

The rock poses of the sun-shaded trio are only half ironic. Above all, Leavers acts behind his equipment as a revenant of Keith Emerson. Hutchings perforates his spherical synthesizer wafting that hangs overhead with percussive melodies. But against Leaver’s bass walls including dubstep drops, he only comes up with concise chords, which Hutchings blows out like guitar riffs. Refinement is less important here than sheer volume.

It’s a bit sad that a few months ago Shabaka Hutchings announced the end of his Afro-Caribbean inspired band Sons of Kemet. But The Comet is Coming seems to have no limits in the current state. And that means a lot for Hutchings, who has always viewed jazz as a loose framework for his musical ideas.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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