A fantastic lost legacy in European free improvisation – the complete works of a group who were first known as Modern Jazz
Quintet Karlsruhe, then later as Fourmenonly – presented here in a beautiful 3CD set! First up is the album Trees – issued on a small label in 1968, but a set that matches the groundbreaking energy of the early work on FMP – played by a group that features Helmuth Zimmer on piano, Wilfreid Eichorn on tenor and soprano sax, Claus Buhler on bass, Rudi Thielmann on drums, and Herbert Joos on flugelhorn, Mellophon, piston, and percussion! The group have a melodic vibe at the core – often feeling out the initial space as a unit, then exploding with sound and color – and really making especially great work of the talents of Joos and Eichorn – players who work together with great power, driven on by the others. Titles include "Lonely Time", "Trees", "Schnee Verbrennt", "Change Of Beauty", and "The Devil Is Green Blue Yellow". CD also features a bonus unreleased improvisation too! Next is Position 2000 – a record of even longer improvisations, and one that shows the quintet really developing their sound – strongly aware of the farther reaches, but always beginning in some more colorful passages that almost have a melody, before exploding out with very vibrant energy! The lineup is the same as on the debut – with Herbert Joos on flugelhorn, mellophone, Indian flute, and percussion – and Wilfried Eichorn on tenor, soprano sax, bass clarinet, flute, and percussion – alongside Helmuth Zimmer on piano, Klaus Buhler on bass, and Rudi Thielmann on drums. Titles include "The Sun Is Coming Over", "Position 2000", and "Where Love Forever Shines". CD also features an unreleased improvisation. For the next album, bassist Buhler has departed the group – who are renamed Fourmenonly! Their first record is a brilliant set of free jazz
from the German scene of the 70s – very different than other work of the time, in that there's maybe more of a future-thinking balance between sounds and silence, frenzy and fragility – all served up by a quartet that features Herbert Joos on trumpet and flugelhorn, Wilfried Eichhorn on tenor and soprano sax, Helmuth Zimmer on piano and percussion, and Rudi Theilmann on drums and percussion. Titles include "Viridiana/
Ich Und Meine Bruder/
Compulsion" and "Count Down/
Excess". On the album Eight Science Fiction Stories, the Fourmenonly lineup is expanded by trombonist Wolfgang Czelusta – and perform some fantastic work billed as "science fiction stories", all composed by Herbert Joos. The sound is as revolutionary as on the group's earliest material, but also maybe more compact as well – nicely focused, with especially strong emphasis on the interplay between Czelusta on trombone, Wilifried Eichorn on bass clarinet, flute, and oboe, and Herbert Joos on flugelhorn, trumpet, and mellophone. The piano of Helmuth Zimmer is amazing – almost Cecil Taylor-like in intensity at times – and drummer Rudi Theilmann does a great job of moving from passages of full-on power to more spacious percussion. Titles include "Lucifer Is Marching On", "Dead Season", "The Beauty Without A Face", "Departure", "Plastic Happiness", and "Space Wall".
(Limited edition of 500!)