RT 9331 (2007)

Carl Ludwig Hübsch's
primordial soup

Axel Dörner - trumpet
Frank Gratkowski - reeds
Michael Griener - drums, percussion
Carl Ludwig Hübsch - tuba, composition

1. NGC 2271 Hades B [12:01]
2. NGC 2274 Melos [5:44]
3. Pressio #1 [4:21]
4. NGC 2273 Vier/Four [10:38]
5. Flexus [3:30]
6. Pressio #2 [3:11]
7. NGC 2270 Terrier [10:23]
8. NGC 2276 Inspektion [7:10]
9. Harpa Gratkowskae [1:55]

Recorded live and in studio in April 2005

All tracks by Carl Ludwig Hübsch, except
3,5,6,9 : Primordial Soup

 

visit Carl Ludwig Hübsch's website


Mark Corroto - All About Jazz

Composer and tubist Carl Ludwig Hübsch once released a CD of 119 solo tuba pieces. Actually only 99 could fit on the single disc! Try to imagine the record producer having the conversation with the artist, “Sorry Carl, we are going to have to either edit some of this material that runs nearly two minutes or cut a few of the thirty-second songs out all together.” Yikes.

His band Primordial Soup is made up of German free jazz stars, yet they are called upon to navigate some very complex compositions. That is not to say that the pieces do not allow for some extended improvisation. It is just the knowing where the written stops and the free starts that is beyond recognition.

The opening track, a twelve-minute introduction into Primordial Soup’s mission statement tentatively slips across as a classical piece of music that is extended—elongated and infused with improvisation tools. Midway through “NGC 2271 Hades B” the logical progression of the composition stops. The nothingness begins again with trumpeter Axel Dörner’s whispered breath technique. Is it the same song, but with a written passage of silence? It certainly must be—the breathy growls and uttered tones, whether improvised or notated, are mood stabilizers.

It is as if the composer has written with tools that are all now familiar within free jazz; he has simply gathered them into his color palate for music making. The obvious reference for a track like “NGC 2273 Vier/Four,” with the off-kilter measure and the tuba bottom is Anthony Braxton. But Hübsch is less serious (in the best sense of the word) than Braxton. Compositions written here must have been developed with the individual players in mind. Hübsch allows the familiar playing of Dörner and Gratkowski to blossom as he does not straightjacket each player by his writing. For his part, the drummer Michael Griener is a colorist and a fine collaborator with the other players.

This music might be one of the finer examples of how free jazz can be tailored into not randomly coherent, but orchestrated, coherence.

all about jazz

Squidco

Composer, improviser and Tuba player Hübsch in a setting dedicated to the universe, with most tracks named after celestial bodies. Hübsch composed the nine pieces here for a hand-selected group of fantastic improvisers who work well collectively. Each composition contains a map that presents improvisational stipulations which serve as a work tool for the collective group. The music is sparse but filled with detail and motion, creating both serious and joyful moments in the resulting performances.

squidco

Jazz Loft

(...) Primordial Soup is made up of German free jazz stars, yet they are called upon to navigate some very complex compositions. That is not to say that the pieces do not allow for some extended improvisation. It is just the knowing where the written stops and the free starts that is beyond recognition. The opening track, a twelve-minute  introduction into Primordial Soup«s mission statement tentatively slips across as a classical piece of music that is extended, elongated and infused with improvisation tools.

Midway through NGC 2271 Hades Bb the logical progression of the composition stops. The nothingness begins again with trumpeter Axel Dörner«s whispered breath technique. Is it the same song, but with a written passage of silence? It certainly must be the breathy growls and uttered tones, whether improvised or notated, are mood
stabilizers. It is as if the composer has written with tools that are all now familiar within free jazz; he has simply gathered them into his color palate for music making.

The obvious reference for a track like NGC 2273 Vier/Four with the off-kilter measure and the tuba bottom is Anthony Braxton. But Hübsch is less serious (in the best sense of the word) than Braxton. Compositions written here must have been developed with the individual players in mind.Hübsch allows the familiar playing of Dörner
and Gratkowski to blossom as he does not straightjacket each player by his writing.For his part, the drummer Michael Griener is a colorist and a fine collaborator with the other players. This music might be one of the finer examples of how free jazz can be tailored into not randomly coherent, but orchestrated, coherence.

jazzloft


Free Jazz - Stef Gijssels
****

I am not a true fan of free improv which just consists of squeaks and squeals and snorts and whinnies. I need a little minimum of true music to fully appreciate a record, or - to put it differently - I don't understand musicless music, but that may come, that may come, with age, with more listening ... What German tuba-player Carl Ludwig Hübsch does on this record comes at times very close to the border of what I find bearable, yet on the other hand many of the parts which I call true music - and I know that's a very relative concept - are truly excellent. Hübsch, who composed all the material, is accompanied by some of the best improvising musicians on the German scene : Axel Dörner on trumpet, Frank Gratkowski on reeds and Michael Griener on drums and percussion. This music is composed, though, even if it is improvised. The structural basis of the music is at first listening far from being apparent, but as things evolve, the emergence of unisono lines and unclear rhythms which suddenly manifest themselves give surprising effects. The album starts with "NGC Hades B", a composition that is not only hardly audible, but which consists to a large extent of silence, with the occasional sound or sound clusters, creating solo or unisono monotonous waves that come and go, just to be replaced by silence again. The "Primordial Soup" in the title refers to the watery substance out of which life itself emerged some 3.8 billion years ago by loose chemicals starting to merge and become proteins. And the music surely imitates this process. The compositions are very abstract with notes jumping with high ranges over the scales, with lots of counterpoint melodies and odd rhythmic patterns, yet it all fits well. And the tracks are ordered in a nice way between pre-cambrian evocations and plain fun. For instance, on the sixth track "Pressio", you can close your eyes and indeed be transported back to a windy and watery expanse in which bizarre things are taking place below the surface, but then it's followed by a clearly composed tune "NGC 2270 Terrier", which has elements of brass band and early swing in it, with Hübsch's tuba providing the foundation for the other musicians to improvize, and at times even throwing them off balance, just to be brought back by the other musicians into the primordial soup and then slowly back into some really great subdued yet joyful unisono playing. But the next track "NGC 2776 Inspektion" brings you back underwater, in the soup, for a composition with as few notes as possible, creating images of a slowly bubbling oozy substance. The last track is joyous and sad at the same time, like the song of the whales. Really interesting music. Don't be judgmental when listening to it for the first time, be patient and listen again. This music has great depth, and what the musicians manage to create, not only by getting unknown sounds out of their instruments, but also by creating sound sculptures you've never heard before, is a great listening experience.

Free Jazz

Jerry D'Souza - All About Jazz

Tuba player Carl Ludwig Hübsch explains in the CD booklet, that “Primordial Soup” refers to the state of our universe: at the point in time that was just a miniscule fraction of a second after the Big Bang. That happens to be the starting point for his view on music and its construction, from establishing components to building them through exploration.

Hübsch is well served by the musicians he has chosen to navigate the unknown with him. Axel Dörner (trumpet), Frank Gratkowski (reeds) and Michael Grenier (drums, percussion) have all made a mark in free invention and instant improvisation. For the quartet, music is channelled through the impulse of the moment, from the inspiration that strikes in a flash. But despite what would on the face of it seem an entire foray into the realm of abstract freedom, Hübsch has plenty of melody running in his veins to let it have a vantage point on the record.

The two streams join forces significantly on “NGC 2270 Terrier.” The melody obtains its shape unhurriedly, but once it does it assumes a sense of urgency. Gratkowski and Dörner propel it with Hübsch adding the counterpoint. Then comes the near classical image, glassy lines shaped by Gratkowski on the clarinet before he casts them aside for more for obtuse designs. The fervour is ardent, the heated atmosphere given greater impetus by Hübsch. In the midst of it all Griener adds some light touches, a soft breeze in the whirlwind. But the plateau is open and undefined to let the quartet mark its own compelling signposts.

Divergence converges on “NGC 2271 Hades B.” It’s a paean to free expression that seeks common ground and succeeds remarkably well. Gratkowski and Dörner are the protagonists, engaged in a conversation that pulls in different strands. It is an intriguing dialogue. The stimulus calms, space opens wide and silence greets the occasional twitter of the reeds or the lone drum beat. Time seems at a standstill, but curiosity is well served as out of the stillness rise the lonesome song of the trumpet or the burp of the tuba.

Hübsch and his fellow mates in high imagination turn on the spell and hold it right through.

all about jazz

Brian S. Lunde - Jazz Review

Even if Primordial Soup doesn’t fit easily into the jazz genre, it certainly takes you on a ride through extreme improvisational forms. Carl Ludwig Hübsch and his colleagues play their instruments and play with their instruments to produce a stunning array of sounds, both melodic and a-melodic, rhythmic and arrhythmic. The effect is sometimes contemplative, sometimes spatial, and sometimes, to use Hübsch’s own term, just “joyful noise.”

All of the compositions are Hübsch originals. They do not follow any recognizable forms, yet each piece is a distinct whole. Hübsch doesn’t so much write music as he writes musical maps that include “improvisational stipulations,” allowing each piece to emerge in ways totally unique to the individual and collective sensibilities of the moment. There are occasional glimpses of conventional writing where Hübsch has clearly annotated the parts completely, but they ebb and flow with the open improvisation and the edges are not distinct.

Highlights include “Pressio #1,” which offers a magical mixture of percussive sounds and air columns moving through the wind instruments. It sometimes sounds almost as if you are listening to a Fantasia-like improvisational symphony of steam-powered machines come-to-life. “Harpa Gratkowskea,” a twist on reed player Frank Gratkowski’s name, is a short, pensive piece featuring a lot of note-bending on the wind instruments. It manages to convey a sort of sad happiness, like a frown painted on the face of a clown.

Primordial Soup is music not so much to be listened to as to be thought about. Imaginative and challenging, it accurately evokes the themes of strangeness and beauty that commingle in the distant structures and spaces of our universe as Hübsch’s inspiration for this work.

jazzreview

 

Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen - INTUITIVE MUSIC CD REVIEWS

Carl Ludwig Hübsch's Primordial Soup. Carl Ludvig Hübsch, tuba; Axel Dörner, trumpet; Frank Gratkowski, reeds; Michael Griener - drums, perc. Red Toucan TR 9331, 2007
   On this CD, tightness of compositional structures and the spontaneous presence of improvised playing combine interestingly. Composed structures may be pointillistic with single tones presented subtly one after another, sudden insertions in a bop-like style, something sounding like it could rely on free imitations, jazz arangements with solos, aleatoric structures of ostinatos ... and there are several fantastic transitions gradually travelling from fixed towards more free, exhibiting the gradual emergence of individuality.
   Musicians do a virtuoso playing job, not least Huebsch on his tuba that yields a refreshingly different bass sound.
   Combining the "smartness" of bop style and long, meditative developments is not an easy task, but there is so much to experience here. The composer states in the booklet about his music generally that "While emphasis and plot are fragmented and given the freedom of a new point of departure, utmost care is given to awareness of musical flow and continuity of the play" ... interesting paradox...
   This can be great listening for both those who like non-museum jazz and those coming from the classical experimental music scene, but there's still more to say.
   Music is not just "good listening" but also, let's admit it, a kind of developing cultural icon, a mental notion or bundles of notions, a passionate being part of historic invention processes. Or, more modestly, a cultural "thing". This thing is something to be developed, handed down ultimately through generations, talking about the craft of composition, its ways and intricacies. It may result in great joy coming from the collectivity across different times and regions and from the heights of human invention it represents. Yes, preserving traditions may sometimes kill them, but this is about survival of know-how.
   In other words, innovative composition like this should be documented for the inspiration and enjoyment of others, as we probably cannot sit back and wait for commercial publishers to do it for us. Let's use the internet to show each other what the structures are all about, the ingenuity and beauty of the scores.

Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen - INTUITIVE MUSIC CD REVIEWS