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Zweisam 03:35
Take IV 03:42


Intakt CD 142

The four greats of German jazz – Conrad Bauer, Ulrich Gumpert, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, and Günter Sommer – have recorded on March 1974, in the studios of East German Radio, their early manifesto “Auf der Elbe schwimmt ein rosa Krokodil”, which was never released in East Germany. It was published later in West Berlin by FMP.

“Auf der Elbe schwimmt ein rosa Krokodil” continues what Ulrich Gumpert began in 1973 with his Workshop Band and also in his duo with Günter Sommer: the recourse to largely unused German folk songs as a commitment to his own tradition – with all the internalized Monk albums and various other influences superimposed upon it, of course.

“The theme that comes up in both "Krokodil" pieces and also in "Zweisam" seems like an anthem but is also somewhat elegiac. There is no reason for celebration, but also none for resignation. East Berlin, 1974. No ironic distance, but identification with a musically, culturally, and politically strange situation in the here and now. Finding oneself by risking breaking oneself. The image of a pink crocodile swimming on the Elbe, a verbal supplement to an autonomous sound production, pushes the play of associations into the surreal. Perhaps, too, the inflatable creature secretly sets out on the path that at the time would not have been allowed by the authorities: from Dresden to Hamburg and on to the open sea.”

"In the 1980s, East German musicians Conrad Bauer (trombone), Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky (saxes), Ulrich Gumpert (piano) and Günter Sommer (drums) formed Zentralquartett, named ironically after the Central Committee of the Communist Party. However, in 1974, in the studios of East German Radio, they had already recorded the musical manifesto Auf Der Elbe Schwimmt Ein Rosa Krokodil ("A Pink Crocodile Swims On the Elbe"). The recording was never released in East Germany, but appeared later on West Berlin's FMP label – and now, I assume, gets its first CD release. As the sleevenotes comment, the image of a pink crocodile swimming on the Elbe is surreal, but maybe reminds us that a journey up the river, from Dresden in the East to Hamburg and the sea in the West, would not have been allowed then by the authorities. This early glimpse into one of the great quartets of free jazz, unusual for its lack of a bassist, is relatively brief at only 36 minutes, but it's a rich and fascinating one. Throughout, the music is incredibly free and, compared to their later work, not so groove-based. In 1973 Ulrich Gumpert's Workshop Band, and his duo with Günter Sommer; had explored German folk songs, searching for a European direction for Improv, and that process is continued here in pieces such as "Mehr Aus Teutschen Landen". The title-track, by Sommer, is a rousing anthem."
Andy Hamilton, The Wire, London, Mai 2008


released January 1, 2008

Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky: Saxophones
Conrad Bauer: Trombone
Ulrich Gumpert: Piano
Günter Sommer: Drums, Percussion

Recorded March, 5, 6, 1974 by Rundfunk der DDR, Berlin. Engineer: Siegfried Scholz. Radio-Producer Rolf Reichelt. Original cover art: Angelika Margull/Jost Gebers. First released on FMP, 1976.
Re-released on Intakt Records, 2008. Cover reconstruction: Georg Bauer. Executive production: Patrik Landolt. Published and copyright by Intakt Records


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