About the Zentralquartet recording made in 1990 – it's music played in a highly charged period. The old GDR no longer existed, and the unification didn't yet. And also, even if the music of the Zentralquartet did not depict a mirror image of sensitivity, these recordings manifest it clearly: breakneck speed and introspection, exhaling and reflection. Produced and recorded in 1990, this CD hardly turned up in East Germany and in any shop anywhere. At that time, everything was thrown into chaos. Having disappeared from the scene, this album was considered an insider's secret. In order to make this CD available again, Intakt Records researched and consequently obtained the rights to this recording, which has the significance of a musical manifesto.
Recorded and originally released in the joyful chaos that was Berlin in 1990, this magnificent album promptly became about as hard to find as the Wall, and its reissue on Intakt is cause for celebration. Trombonist Conrad Bauer, pianist Ulrich Gumpert, saxophonist / clarinettist / flutist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and drummer Günter Sommer first played together back in 1973 under the name Synopsis (also the title of the album's first track), adopting the somewhat ironic (shades of the politburo) "Zentralquartett" moniker eleven years later. Muscular and optimistic, the music, in the absence of a bass player, is grounded in Gumpert's solid left hand, leaving his right free to add splashes of township harmony worthy of Dollar Brand or Chris McGregor. The churchy harmonies of Protestant hymns return home to roost after hundreds of years in the African sunshine, Sommer whoops and hollers behind his kit and the horns blast out joyfully, but for all its ebullience this is a polished and crafted document. Another fine album recorded in East Germany comes to mind: the Ganelin Trio's 1978 debut on Leo (LR 102) - and like that group, the Zentralquartett knew just how to smash down the barriers that supposedly make free jazz "difficult" listening. As history has shown, walls can come down a hell of a sight faster than it takes to put them up. Check this out!
Paris-Transatlantic-Magazine. Global Coverage of New Music. February 2002
East German musicians Conrad Bauer on trombone, pianist Ulrich Gumpert, altoist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and drummer Gunter Sommer got together in 1974, and reformed in 1984 under the name Zentralquartett – maybe the humourless GDR authorities didn't get the irony of the name's play on 'Central Committee', and the group's joyous free jazz was tolerated. This exhilarating example, recorded in Berlin in 1990 after the fall of the Wall, disappearded without trace on its original release. Raucous, postmodern and post-free, their crazy marches, waltzes and fragments of blues and calypso makes for musical slapstick and surrealism. A thoroughly entertaining, engrossing release.
Andy Hamilton, The Wire, London, Dezember 2001
Full of humor, funk, and joy
... This remarkable document captures the spirit of the ground better than any other I have heard. While there is considerable free improvisation, there is lots of structure, too. The results hearken to some of Carla Bley's early big band works, with gutsy, zany melodies and lots of free-wheeling solos. Ulrich Gumpert is superb on piano, the recording offering a rate glimpse of him unleashed. Another standout is Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, who was at the hight of his powers, performing remarkably on alto sax, clarinet, and flute. The second horn, trombonist Conrad Bauer, who has received more exposure than the others since this recoring was made, solos extensively and effectively, was expected. Günter Sommer, too, is at the top of his game. Equal to the quality of improvisations is the writing, which makes the CD a particular cause for celebration. the tunes are alternatively full of humor, funk, and joy, and this is likely to (or should) be on many lists of top reissues for 2001.
Steven Loewy, Cadence, Dezember 2001, New York, USA
Compositions by Bauer, Gumpert, Petrowsky, Sommer. Published and produced by Intakt Records. Recorded May 3-6, 1990 by Deutsche Schallplatten GmbH, Berlin. Engineer: Gerd Puchelt. First released 1990. New release 2001 on Intakt Records mit freundlicher Genehmigung der BMG Berlin Musik GmbH. Cover Art: Peter Frey, Liner Notes: Bert Noglik
Recorded 1990, Published 2001 by Intakt Records
supported by 10 fans who also own “Zentralquartett”
Thank you, Stephan, Liberty and Jamie (15 yrs after the fact) for a marvelous album.
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.
Stephan, your compositions are well adapted to reopening smoothly. Please let me know if you would like to discuss
Ryn Ryn Miake-Lye