FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION as the Center of Contemporary Jazz Development
Today, the musicians
from the circle of Berlin's FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION (FMP) - the bassist
Peter Kowald, the saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, the pianist Alexander von
Schlippenbach, the guitarist Hans Reichel, to only name a few - are counted
among the most important renewers of jazz. Up until the 70's, exclusively
the names of American musicians stood for the music called jazz: Duke
Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday,
John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman... Music critics
conceived of the development of jazz through temporally limited jazz styles
and placed it in the cultural context of the USA.
At the end of the 60's and begin of the 70's, a new development began,
which the writer and music publicist Wilhelm E. Liefland at that time
interpreted as a "radical break in jazz music". The use of creative procedures,
employed by avantguarde movements, from different cultures, genres and
eras brought forth an opening that changed jazz. Instead of developing
linearly, jazz today reveals the coexistence of the most dissimilar styles
and innovatory directions. What, for example, the pioneers from FMP introduced
at the end of the 60's has developed into a manysided and differentiated
music: a first inventory, from EUROPAS JAZZ 1960 bis 1980 (published by
Fischer Verlag), written by the music critic and saxophonist Ekkehard
Jost, presents more than 50 internationally recognized musicians. In his
KLANGSPUREN. WEGE IMPROVISIERTER MUSIK (Sound Traces: Paths of Improvised
Music, also Fischer Verlag) the music publicist Bert Noglik sums up the
process of the last twenty years: "Jazz, an Afro-American idiom according
to ist origin, has developed to a musical world language".
The Berlin of FMP ist one of the most important centers that has made
this process possible, thereby threatening to surpass the ‚Big Apple'
New York. FMP has been substantially involved in the development of this
music. With both of ist supporting structures, Concerts/Festivals and
Record/CD-Production (and additionally since January 1st 2000 an independent
company solely for distribution & marketing, FMP FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION
Distribution & Communication, headed by Helma Schleif, editor's remark)
it has distinctly helped mould the development of contemporary jazz in
Europe. Ist transmission is large. As a whole, numerous reasons make up
the importance of Free Music Production:
1. Production and Documentation of Current Music History
FMP is an institution that presents contemporrary jazz music live and
simultaneously documents it, something practically no other promoter or
producer in Europe has succeeded in doing. (The list of the artists' names
which FMP has presented live in Berlin and published on recordings is
long and speaks in a clear language. Indeed, the catalogue of FMP is one
of the artistically most valuable catalogues of current jazz. Also of
great artistic importance are the photography and recorded archives of
FMP (All photography executed by Dagmar Gebers).
2. Continuity and Experience
Through its 30-year tradition, FMP has at ist disposal an extensive amount
of experience and competence. The festivals are carefully conceived, eventful
and qualitatively distinguished, and the records/CDs are very professionally
produced. Both audibly as well as visually, the records and CDs of FMP
are designed aesthetically.
3. Berlin as a Center
In the years of ist existence, FMP has become a center for European music.
Musicians from Germany, England, France, Holland, and Switzerland as well
as from the USA regularly perform in Berlin. The continuous musical exchange
is a prerequisite for an esthetic development towards an autnomous music.
At the same time, Berlin's public enjoys, at the regularly occurring concerts,
the ability to constantly follow the development of this music.
4. Worldwide Cultural Exchange
Throughout the years, FMP has cultivated the exchange of West European
jazz with East-European and American jazz. Regarding this, highlights
include, from the 70's, the concerts and recordings with musicians from
the GDR, and, at the beginning of the 90's, the large scale presentation
and CD production of Cecil Taylor, the most well-known pianist of new
jazz in the USA.
5. Personal Initiative and Expert Knowledge
Behind FMP stands, as with every artistically sucessful institution, an
innovative head: for years, the producer Jost Gebers has been leading
the fortune of this artistic enterprise with expert knowledge, personal
initiative and amazing endurance.
Without doubt, one can certainly say that FMP has contributed significantly
to the development of today's jazz music. It is not only through the performance
of FMP that names of musicians - such as Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald,
Hans Reichel, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Rüdiger Carl, Albert Mangelsdorff,
Paul Lovens - are well known in the international music world and count
amon the great performers of today's jazz. At the same time, one must
also thank FMP that, from Zurich to London, Prague to Moscow, and New
York to Tokyo, Berlin is known throughout the music world as a city of
openness, international exchange and artistic innovation.
Patrick Landolt is the cultural editor of the ‚WochenZeitung'
in Zurich; Zurich Journalist Award 1992. He has published among others:
‚The Laughing Outsiders: Musicians between Jazz, Rock and New Music. The
80's and 90's', edited by Rotpunkt Verlag, Zurich.