RT 9350 (2015)

The Ten Thousand Things

Simon Rose: baritone and alto saxophones
Stefan Schultze: prepared piano

1. Horsepower 6:34
2. Dead end  5:17
3. The ten thousand things  1:27
4. Magua  2:12
5. Extinguish the lamps  3:41
6. Leviathan blues  5:13
7. Bird sommersaults  4:03
8. Straw dogs  7:16
9. Slippage  1:38
10. Unstabled  4:45
11. Fault-line  3:15

All tracks recorded on 19th and 20th of October 2013 by Christian Heck at Loft, Cologne, Germany.
Mixed and Mastered on 23rd and 24th of June 2014 by Hannes Plattmeier at tonart-studio, Kerpen-Horrem, Germany.

Photo of Simon Rose by Bob Chance
Photo of Stefan Schultze by Falk Grieffenhagen



Stefan Schultze and I met by chance in January 2013 at Ausland in Berlin. Much of Stefan’s work has been composing and arranging in the jazz idiom and beyond, and most of mine has been in free improvisation. So, in a way, the project is a meeting of two practices – formal compositional knowledge and free improvisation experience. Stefan had developed a series of piano preparations he was using in solo performance – we have a shared interest in performing solo. These ‘modules’ (bits and pieces in plastic bags) are applied to the inside of the piano, effectively creating a new instrument, or sound world with each preparation. Our music has developed by exploring, together, using the piano preparations and the baritone and alto saxophones. Improvisation, or free improvisation, is at the heart of the approach as it not only enables us to work together creatively but is the preferred way of doing things. With our different points of reference there is a wide variety of possibilities, there’s also very little censorship of ideas, and a broad use of dynamics. Much of the time the piano and saxophones are employed in ways that result in non-standard soundscapes – derived from ‘other’ approaches to playing. The ‘areas’ we explore are left open - as new musical ideas arise different combinations emerge. The shared process is reflective, playing and discussing, and this has extended to the selection of music for this CD: ‘The Ten Thousand Things’. The recording was made at the Loft, Cologne, in concert and in session the following day on the 19th and 20th October 2013.

Simon Rose April 2015






Ken Waxman
The Whole Note, febr. March 2016

Joining forces to extract as many undiscovered textures from their instruments as humanly possible, British alto and baritone saxophonist Simon Rose and German-prepared piano specialist Stefan Schultze come across less like mad scientists and more like dedicated epistemologists. Like researchers confronted with unexpected by-products from their experiments, they assiduously dissect the results for further trials. And like the Lone Ranger and Tonto riding in tandem, for every extended technique exposed by Rose, from tongue slapping to atonal smears, Schultze has an appropriate response or goad, plucking, stopping, pushing and sliding along his strings, and with implements such as bowls, bells and ashers vibrating atop them.

A track like Magua for instance starts with gargantuan baritone sax textures exposed via bone-dry multiphonics, soon pleasantly liquefying to a jerky slap-tongue rhythm to affiliate with bell-like clangs from the piano’s speaking length. Or consider Schultze’s ring modulator-like reverberations which bring out the mellow underpinning of Rose’s backand-forth snuffling on Bird Sommersaults. Additionally, harpsichord-like string stopping gets a tougher interface that vibrates the soundboard strings when sympathetically matched with low-pitched reed vibrations
on Unstabled. Rose’s split tones allow him to play reed strategies that are simultaneously mellow and rickety or skyscraper high and copper mine low at the same time; while Schultze’s strategies create equivalent concurrent textures inside and outside the piano. Leviathan Blues is a fine demonstration of this. The pianist’s stretching the strings while percussively key slapping creates a rhythmic backbeat which expands to meet the saxophonist’s theme variations that likewise widen and become more dissonant as Rose plays. Altissimo reed agitation brings out equivalent kinetic key pummeling, until a simple pedal-push counter-theme calms the woodwind cyclone enough to move Rose to singular honks that finally meld with solidifying key vibrations.

By the time the last note sounds at the end of this CD’s 11th and final track, if the two haven’t exposed the sound textures from 10,000 things they’ve certainly come close to doing so.

The Whole Note



orynx - improv and sounds

Fort heureux qu’un artiste aussi persévérant et original que le saxophoniste Simon Rose voie son excellent effort en compagnie du pianiste « préparateur » Stefan Schultze publié par un label notoire québécois (et tout aussi persévérant), dont le catalogue égrène les noms de musiciens incontournables (Léandre, Parker, Liebman, Golia, Brötzmann, SH Fell) et assume une véritable prise de risques. Depuis ces débuts dans la scène londonienne et son premier enregistrement avec le contrebassiste Simon H Fell (un géant !) et le batteur Mark Sanders où il sonnait encore un peu vert (Badland Bruce’s Finger 14), Simon Rose s’est construit à l’écart des grands festivals et des lieux fréquentés, un chemin personnel vraiment remarquable dans l’univers du saxophone improvisé des Evan Parker, Coxhill, Mitchell, Mc Phee, Leimgruber, Brötzmann, Gustafsson et consorts et où se pressent beaucoup d’appelés et trop peu d’élus. Le contraste et la complémentarité entre un pianiste à la fois « contemporain », éduqué et énergique, et un saxophoniste baryton autodidacte crée une tension, un échange qui renvoie de prime abord à la tradition du « call and response » de la free music telle qu’une large partie de son public raffole. Il y a d'ailleurs quelque chose de brötzmanniaque voire de gustafsonique chez Simon Rose. Mais l’écoute en éveil de nos deux duettistes nous conduit vers leur réflexion, leur concentration, leurs exigences. Onze pièces spontanément organisées autour d’idées force et d’une configuration préparée du clavier survolé par des tournoiements mélodiques d’harmoniques mordantes et d’effets de souffle spiralés ou percutés. Le travail du pianiste est vraiment remarquable, puissant et expressif malgré une sobriété voulue. Son jeu évite arpèges et digitalité discursive. Le son du piano est sollicité telle une machine sonore reliée à des accords secrets et des intervalles choisis. La musique du duo dispense rêves et d’imprévues suggestions. Le titre, Ten Thousand Things, nous rappelle que cette musique improvisée est faite d’une multitude de détails qui s’imposent à nous, disparaissent et renaissent au fil d’écoutes répétées – et dont je ne me priverai pas en ce qui concerne ce disque ! TTT figure parmi les beaux albums de musique libre improvisée du milieu de cette décennie, à la fois chercheur, lyrique, intransigeant et communicatif d’émotions sincères et entières.

orynx - improv and sounds blogspot - Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg


Free Jazz Collective

Baritone and alto saxophonist Simon Rose and pianist Stefan Schultze met in 2013 in Berlin, and even if the first came from the free improv scene and the second from a more standard jazz background, their collaboration on this album makes you wonder about these different perspectives because it all sounds so seamless and integrated.

On eleven improvisations these two musicians find a wonderful balance between ferocious destruction and sensitive construction, starting with their instruments, as the piano is prepared with all kinds of plastic sticks and bags, and Rose is a real fan of circular breathing, rhythmic tongue slapping, and other harder to define techniques, yet at the same time, and despite the obvious harshness, the music strikes a deep emotional chord, like a cry full of agony and pain, with vulnerability and even tenderness and intimacy. And that may explain the title, as "The Ten Thousand Things" is a buddhist expression of all the things that make up our world, and their musical reflection gives us this : a myriad of sounds and interactions that make us feel these 'ten thousand things', with all their qualities, and complexities and simplicities and gentleness, and so much more.

What I love about the album is that the two artists have a strong common vision and they go for it, all the way. There's nothing half-hearted here, or no compromising, no crowd-pleasing treats, but only authentic and creative expressivity, like life itself, hard and real like life itself.

It is one of those albums which take you over completely, and because of its emotional power, it has been a soothing album for me, and listening to it dozens and dozens of times, the raw sensitivity of the baritone, the bell-like sounds of the piano, the physical intimacy, the sometimes violent percussiveness, matched the emotional need of your humble servant, at moments when he felt he wanted to smash the things around him while at the same time needing some consolation and sympathetic sentiments. Apologies for the subjectivity, but there is no other way to approach this music : you love or you hate it. This guy loves it.

Free Jazz Collective - Stef Gijssels