We Don´t Need No Education
The Kochan-Uchihashi-Hautzinger Trio is a gathering of three extraordinary musicians. The Polish drummer, the Japanese guitarist and the Austrian trumpeter just recently found together for a number of concerts in Poland and a corresponding recording session. Even if they have all met several times during their musical careers, they only used to play together in duos, never all three of them. They have many things in common though, above all quite a degree of musical radicalism, a love for improvisation and a weakness for electronic gadgets.
When the three men are playing a concert, there is no need to plan the performance or to distribute tasks. If Franz Hautzinger says, ‘I only do this kind of project together with people who are truly able to improvise’, he really means it. The trio’s whole performance consists of one immense nonstop improvisation, there is neither a division into songs, nor does any other familiar musical structure appear. ‘The essence is improvised’, says Hautzinger, ‘we are not improvising around any given standard, as for example in Jazz music’. The whole thing develops on stage, they are composing the music in real-time. Even for the recording of their CD they will stick to this method; Jacek Kuchan, the drummer, expects it to take ‘maybe three hours’.
Of course, recording a whole CD within three hours requires great professionalism, at least if you do not want to just improvise a bit without caring about the result. And Hautzinger and his mates definitely do care about their music. Live on stage, you can see how seriously they take their job: highly concentrated, deeply lost in thought and constantly searching for new ideas, they play their instruments with tremendous artistic proficiency. Each performance is different, it is influenced by the room, the musicians’ mood and the magic of the situation. Naturally, there are moments in which there is no inspiration and Hautzinger also admits that ‘at some point you start to invent the same things again and again’, but he still tries to only play when he has actually got a good idea – if not, he stops and ponders around while the others are taking over.
Franz Hautzinger plays the trumpet, but his musical output hardly even sounds like a trumpet. Everything is about reduction, he cultivates a highly concentrated, minimalist way of playing with quickly inspired melodic particles and a variety of single tones. Hautzinger’s style is pretty radical, it forces the listeners to expand their understanding of music. He leaves a lot of room between the different sound events, quite often he no longer uses notes but drones and squeaks. He also works a lot with tongue and lip noises channeled through the instrument. That way, the trumpet becomes more like an extension of the improviser’s body than a technical device manufactured to produce music.
With Kazuhisa Uchihashi’s technique to play the guitar it is the other way around. He very much depends on electronic effects to modify the sound of his guitar. He likes to use rhythmical clicks and industrial sounding single tones. It is very much about contrasts, be it between loud and quiet or usual and strange sounds. By playing a wide range from gentle pickings to wild scrubbings, sometimes with the help of a violin bow, Uchihashi expands the possibilities of the electric guitar. The innovative Japanese creates digital sounds with an originally acoustic instrument.
Eventually, Jazek Kochan and his drums are providing the foundation for the whole sound. He builds a strong framework for the trumpet and the guitar, often underlining what they are doing. This behavior is apparently influenced by the nature of the instrument, but also by the fact that the others are just pushing forward a bit more. However, he still adds a unique flavor when he strikes out for thunder-like drum solos or nervously twitching Hi-Hat attacks. Similar to his companions, Kochan very much reduces these actions until they become individual sound events.
Kochan, Uchihashi and Hautzinger are very experienced musicians, they have all been making music for at least two decades, a time in which they more and more radicalized their play. Each one of them is well known by an international avant-garde audience and their experimental sound has brought them the freedom they need in order to play the music they like. The radical jam sessions they do as a trio are leading to a strange mixture of minimalistic sounds which can be quite exhausting for both musicians and audience, but it can also be very captivating. It simply depends if you are ready to experience a totally different kind of music.
Author: Stefan Mühlenhoff
Having spent his childhood in Poland, Jacek Kochan leaves Europe in the early 1980s and tries his luck in New York. There, the young musician joins several jazz and funk bands to play drums. Besides, he also studies there, among others together with the bass player legend Jaco Pastorious and the funk-drummer Mike Clark, who had been playing in Herbie Hancock’s ‘Headhunter’ band. However, Jacek is not captured too much by the Big Apple and already a few years later he moves on to Canada. His first stopover is Montreal where he starts to broaden his musical horizon by writing compositions for choirs and orchestras. He also works with artists from diverse ethnical backgrounds, such as Latin, African and Balkan people. Still not feeling at home, Toronto with its multicultural way of life seems to promise more. Jacek plays important roles in countless live and recording projects, he even co-operates with star jazz-guitarist John Abercrombie. However, after 15 years in North America, it is finally time for him to engage again with his homeland. Back in Europe, the busy drummer continues to compose, play and record music in various formations. He is constantly enhancing his style, trying to create new music. In order to do so, Jacek experiments with electronic sounds and sampling methods. He fulfills multiple roles as a composer, arranger, drummer and performer on other instruments such as on the album ‘One Eyed Horse’ (2005) on which he is experimenting with an acoustic-electric hybrid sound. That already seems to be quite futuristic, but in spite of 13 solo albums, Jacek Kochan is still moving on to discover even more.
In 1959 Kazuhisa Uchihashi is born in Osaka, Japan. At the age of 12, he starts playing the guitar and in high school he plays in several folk and rock bands. During his studies at Osaka University of Foreign Languages, he acquaints himself with jazz techniques and starts playing at clubs and studios. His most important bands are ‘First Edition’, a jazz-oriented improvisational band he joined in 1988, and ‘Altered States’ in which he pursues a freer form of improvisation, adding rock elements. From 1994 to 1997, he was also a member of the group ‘Ground Zero’, lead by Yoshihide Otomo, which played an important role in the development of the noisy modern Japanese music scene. Kazuhisa Uchihashi also likes to collaborate with vocalists and is open for other artistic genres, too. He has written a number of soundtracks and he performs with dancers, poets or painters. Although he loves to experiment and is very much into improvised music, he is an exceptionally accomplished player who is able to play a variety of rock and country styles as well as excellent versions of mainstream jazz standards. Of course, he also does many international co-operations, such as the one with the German avant-garde guitarist and instrument builder Hans Reichel. The latter taught the Japanese how to play the ‘daxophone’ a unique instrument invented by himself. As if all these occupations were not enough, Uchihashi furthermore owns his own record label ‘Zenbei’, manages his own festivals and continues to release a series of highly praised solo guitar recordings.
The Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger is one of the most moulded musicians of the international scene. As a composer and performer of new and improvised music, he gained the attention of an international avant-garde audience, he has performed with Lou Reed, The Temptations and John Cole. Of course, it took Hautzinger some time to get to this stage. After studying trumpet and composition in Graz and Vienna, Austria, he starts working as a trumpet teacher and session musician. Although he stays quite flexible during this time, he develops his trumpet play, at first influenced by Miles Davis’ modal jazz, into a more contemplative and impressionistic style. In 1993 he joins the band ‘Striped Roses’ where he played together with saxophonist Helge Hinteregger and bass player Werner Dafeldecker. Already at this time, Hautzinger starts to turn away from jazz to stronger improvised forms of music. He starts several projects to pursue this idea and also acquaints himself with electronic effects and samplers. He further radicalizes his style by shifting from standard trumpet and flügelhorn to the much more flexible quarter-tone trumpet. In 1997, he records his first CD as a leader, ‘Bent’, together with Hinteregger and the Londoners Oren Marshall and Steve Noble. Between 1998 and 2000 though, he stops recording and fully concentrates on his development as a musician. He finally comes back with the solo CD ‘Gomberg’ (2000) and the debut of his new group ‘Dachte Musik’ (2001), both released on the German noise label ‘Grob’. With these and his participation in the composers’ ensemble ‘Zeitkratzer’, he establishes a much more radically improvised style. Now in his early forties, Franz Hautzinger still does not lack inspiration and continues his work in countless formations. However, he sometimes also turns back to more concrete jazz.
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