In a genre of music often heralded for its socialistic potential, saxophonist Peter Brötzmann might be the artist who most truly realizes those ideals. Active for three-plus decades, the bristly German reedmaster has led his share of energy-laden ensembles; yet, even at this point in his career, Brötz still enthusiastically participates as a member of several one-off collectives and even occasionally as a sideman. Fryed Fruit, released by the reinvigorated Red Toucan label, captures Brötzmann in one these collective free-for-alls—accompanied by the venerable Russian drummer Nikolai Yudanov and young Finnish guitarist Sakari Luoma in an hour-long flight of ecstatic fancy.
The music resulting from this meeting is old-school energy music, classic in every sense. Brötzmann rifles through his arsenal of reeds with customary, paint-peeling finesse, starting out on tenor, then switching to tarogato for "Xanadu" and "Around the Circle." Similarly, Yudanov maintains the vigorous pulse—tearing it up with Sunny Murray-esque glee while simultaneously keeping an ear open to subtlety. Luoma's guitar work vacillates between brilliant and questionable; his contributions to the music's quieter interludes come off as slightly meddling (as in the introduction to "Xanadu"), but his chunky phase-shifted power chords consistently urge the trio to heavier plateaus.
Brötzmann's ballsy wail yelps immediately to life on the opening "Monkey Wrench"; and it's only a matter of minutes before the trio locks together at full-bore intensity. "Red, White & Yellow" takes a little longer to gather steam over Luoma's tentative volume-swelled guitar, but the subsequent tenor/drums duo section resuscitates the music's flow with hotheaded poise. "Xanadu" wastes much time getting back to the tried-and-true freakout level that, once it's reclaimed, finds Luoma serving up a volley of frayed notes to reinforce Brötzmann's iron-lunged sustain. "Around the Circle" is the set's apex, slowly building from malfunctioning cassette chaos to a frenetic outpouring as Brötzmann proceeds to split his tarogato tones like a speedfreak lumberjack. "Fryed Fruit" seems almost an afterthought—Luoma tries on his Van Halen and McLaughlin hats for over half the piece until Brötzmann effectively silences him with astounding hunks of raw tenor.
While I can't claim this trio's approach to be much more than one-dimensional, their primitive energy packs such a resounding wallop that it's difficult to fault them for a lack of diversity. And even though it might be more delicacy than staple in a well-balanced musical diet, Fryed Fruit definitely won't leave a bad taste in any free jazz lover's mouth.
François Couture, All Music Guide
Did you ever wonder how a meeting between Peter Brötzmann and the Ruins would sound like? This is as close as it gets. While in Scandinavia in 1999, the German saxophone terrorist performed a few shows with surprising lineups and musical approaches with local musicians (another fine example is Live at Nefertiti, released in 2001 on Ayler Records). Fryed Fruit was recorded on June 8, 1999, in Joensuu, Finland, by a power trio closer to rock than jazz. Drummer Nikolai Yudanov and electric guitarist Sakari Luoma sided the saxophonist. The five tracks included here are all in-your-face jams, packed with energy the likes of which one doesn't expect from the aging Brötzmann anymore. Yudanov's free rock drumming compares to the Ruins' Yoshida Tatsuya. Finesse is not Luoma's cup of tea: he throws loud atonal chords and scrapes the strings with metal objects. Brötzmann leaves them an interesting duo spot during the first seven minutes of the title track. There is also a place to breathe at the beginning of "Xanadu," more delicate in its first half. But most of the time, Fryed Fruit sounds like what would have happened if Rush had been listening to Machine Gun. Powerful and quite entertaining, although free jazz purists will definitely not agree.
(musings) - Richard Cochrane
Peter Brotzmann has been saddled with the myth of his FMP album "Machine Gun" for his whole career; the myth, that is, that he is interested primarily in noise, in sonic extremes, that he is, in Ekkard Jost's phrase, a "sound player". That phrase is much-misused, and its application to Brotzmann is one of its saddest abuses of all, because it has led somewhat to his sidelining as a post-COltrane saxophonist who demands to be taken seriously.The trio with Yudanov and Luoma will, however, do little to convert the doubters. Brotzmann plays loud, long and gutsy throughout; those who already know his style and are aware of his capacity for subtlety at high volumes and low alike, though, will find much to enjoy here. Brotzmann has a strong vein of blues running through his playing, and frequently stirs reminiscences of, of all people, Jimi Hendrix. Although there's a more sophisticated structural sense here than the great guitarist ever had, locally they share the penchant for drama, for big sustains, wild vibratos, zigzagging pentatonics which slur their notes together into a roar.Speaking of Hendrix, Luoma's distorted, sometimes more exotically-effected guitar tempts the inevitable comparison. His technique can sometimes be as rudimentary as Brotzmann's -- both favour heavy trills and runs of notes blurred by unclear articulation. When the two solo together on "Xanadu", they are virtually indistinguishable, Brotzmann's tarogato even taking on much the same timbre as Luoma's guitar. Such hystrionics are familiar parts of the vocabulary of both rock guitar and free jazz sax, and such a close rapprochement is enlightening to say the least.
The pace of this set rarely lets up; all of the pieces start out fast but exploratory and become fast and loud. There's little room for nuance, and those seeking justification of Brotzmann's technique or evidence for his capacity for textural finesse should look elsewhere. Not since Last Exit has he played in such an all-out, furious free-rock setting; even that band never sustained the heights of the so-called "energy music" for as long as this trio. Yet the music is never relentless, and certainly never boring; like Gharles Gayle, Brotzmann knows how to structure this kind of energy and tell a sort of story with it, even if his palette sounds oddly restricted here.
Brotzmann (is) here exploring the energetic extreme of what might still just about be called "free jazz". (The) CD reflects a thoughtfulness which belies the apparent chaos. Entirely unfitted to act as background music, (it) contain spowerfully involving work, strong medicine to be taken with due caution. That said, Brotzmann's lengthy, bluesy assaults soon lose their shock value and, instead of revealing an empty shell, this process actually enables the listener to focus on something besides the volume. There's something exhilarating about this kind of wild, freewheeling jamming which draws you in and keeps you listening. (...) Highly recommended; (the) saxophonist seems to have been captured in company that genuinely excites (him) and who are, as they used to say, taking care of business.