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212
Chapter 9
improvisation, and he wrote music with specific individuals in mind, not to be repeated
(or ‘retrieved’) by ‘any old’ saxophone player or by classical musicians.
Most improvising musicians also invited their colleagues to contribute their own creativity
to the realisation of their compositional works, and reeds player Uli Kempendorff
described how:
In my group, the material is much more songs and everything, but I choose
players who will destroy and ‘slash-and-burn’ everything. [...] I still want to
expose it to that. [...] I don’t call Jonas Burgwinkel,70 but I call Oli Steidle...
because I want all these elements.
Describing his colleague and friend, Tristan Honsinger, Tobias Delius added that:
[Tristan is] of a very strong mind, and... his pieces are very strong... [but]
I think he works best when there are people on stage, who, although they
might try to understand him and... try to comply with his wishes, at the
same time that they have a mind of their own.
And, even though compositions were now involved, music-making remained a collective
process and individual voices could still be heard, Michael Thieke explaining how even
in his most jazz-orientated work:
The lack of hierarchy in collectives is something I really enjoy. With some
exceptions. [...] If it’s clear somebody writes the music, and also has this
idea and wants to realise it, then if I like the basic material... I’ve no problem
to have that part of the decision out of my hands.
Still, I wouldn’t like a band where I couldn’t tell my opinion... I wouldn’t
play in a band where I would need to fake something to fit into the music.
So in a way, still these bands have a collective feeling to it because the
final decision [of] what to do remains a collective decision, and it’s not like
the bandleader says “It’s done this way, even if they don’t like it.” That
wouldn’t work for me.
For many, ‘accurate’ realisation of their compositions (or any idea of Werktreue) was
far from their aim, and Rudi Mahall delighted that:
When I write a composition I write pretty basic stuff... and I’m always
happy when it sounds different!
Adding that, in one concert of a Berlin-based 9-piece band, “It was great, because
nobody actually played what was there on the page!”, and telling me that this related to
a deeper philosophy of music-making inspired by a first-hand encounter with John Cage,
when Mahall was aged 18 (“Cage would have been happy, when something happened
70
A young drummer based in Köln and well known in the German jazz scene.