Reviews of Konfrontationen 2013 in Nickelsdorf, Austria

Franz Hautzinger 4

Franz Hautzinger 4 , photo: Kurt Liedwart

Andrew Choate

On paper, the quartet of John Tilbury on piano, Hamid Drake on drums, Franz Hautzinger on trumpet and Rozemarie Heggen on double bass looked like a tangle of styles with no hope of cohesion: Tilbury’s minimal piano, Drake’s groovy bebop drums, Hautzinger’s breath-focused trumpet, Heggen’s punk bass. But this set was surprisingly sensical, with each musician listening so intently to the others and contributing just what they could offer that everything stuck together in deep accord… Drake’s signature touch–O those bass drum thumps!–lent everything (and I do mean the whole world) a vibrancy. Heggen, like so many great doublebassists, displayed a supersensitivity to every moment, lending a solid dignity to every move: a bird’s nest dignity, a fought-for dignity. The reward was a perfectly balanced set that somehow displayed every musician’s strength while also revealing new facets of their playing.

Franz Hautzinger 4
photo: Kurt Liedwart

Andreas Felber

The debut of Franz Hautzinger’s Quartet was a productive clash of cultures with John Tilbury, Rozemarie Heggen and Hamid Drake: While Hautzinger’s trumpet hadn’t been sounding so melodic in a long time, and sometimes made you think of Chet Baker, Drake played the drums in the distance. The 77 year old Tilbury underlaid the carefully inventing sound structures with economical piano chords, as if he were lost in another world. Highlight!

Peter Bruyn, The Wire

… Viennese trumpet player Frantz Hautzinger with his quartet( including Hamid Drake, Rozemarie Heggen and John Tilbury), which excels in extremely vulnerable and controlled music, somewhere between rustling trees and Miles Davis’s damp Parisian street atmosphere in L’Ascenseur Pour L’Échafaud.

Guy Peters

The Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger, born in this region, put together a band for the festival and came up with a Quartet with bassist Rozemarie Heggen, cult pianist John Tilbury, and drummer Hamid Drake. A peculiar combination, but one that led to perhaps the most beautiful surprise of the festival….

The concert focused regularly on small details – barely audible variations in Hautzinger’s playing, Tilbury's fingers which performed a whispering dance on the keys -, but the result was an immense coherent listening experience, intoxicating in its effective implementation and nowhere far fetched. Even the ringing of the bells in the night seemed to join in just at the right moment.


Andrew Choate

Trombonist Hilary Jeffery’s psychedelic drone-rock improv ensemble Lysn started the evening off under ecstatically yellow light from the blue sky. Beginning with ambient electronics from Patrick Pulsinger’s synthesizer and all the effects Jeffery’s trombone and Alfredo Genovesi’s guitar ran through, the slow drone of a mildly insistent groove from drummer Steve Heather and Rozemarie Heggen on bass (electric this time) eventually formed. The band really took their time to build this groove up, incrementally adding drops of wet static sequence blipping here and warped guitar fuzz there. Jeffery’s alternation between purely acoustic and effect-laden trombone was so smartly timed that every emergence of the acoustic sound on top of all the electric instruments added a touch of grace that doubled as the memory of a threat. And the threat of a memory. Thirty minutes into the set, when they were seething with rambunctiousness, a zipper opened into the earth. It was actually heaven. Right here all along.

Hilary Jeffery
photo: Etang Chen

Guy Peters

The synth by Patrick Pulsinger lay nicely embedded in the group sound, which was very visual, and recalled images of perspectives and other ethereal panoramas. Hilary Jeffery’s trombone was central, but it was sometimes cunning music, which took you along a sometimes noisy trail, or you were unwittingly involved in a hugely compelling, rhythmic story full of rolling grooves, noisy guitar (Alfredo Genovesi) and trombone layers…. also drummer Steve Heather had (almost) unnoticed played a beautiful performance.

Peter Bruyn, The Wire

… Lysn, the ongoing electronic drone project of British-born, Berlin based trombonist Hilary Jeffery. They open like a 21st century Hawkwind hooking up with Neu!. Then drummer Steve Heather sets up a fantastic groove that gives the others room to launch their solos, while the piece as a whole keeps powering forwards with a giddy momentum.

High Birds - Volume 1-225x225px

High Birds - Volume 2-225x225px

Marc Medwin – All about Jazz

The fact that two of the four releases under discussion are on Dunmall's own label means that adventurousness is to be expected and the High Birds sessions do not disappoint. Much of the vast sonic variety is due to the inclusion of percussionist Alan Purves, who brings a unique voice to these two astonishing discs with his squeaks, gentle rattles and tubular bells. Also quite innovative in her approach is bassist Rozemarie Heggen, whose sense of timbre and timing is impeccable as she traverses the instrument's entire range. They push Dunmall to playing that veers between introspection and gusto. Each gesture is magnified and lengthened as he employs quick vibrato, sweeps, slides, emotive cascades and raspy gurgles—all extramusical tropes that he seemed to have eschewed long ago. However, they are entirely appropriate given the largely pointillistic and timbre-based explorations of the venture. Veteran Dunmall collaborator Hillary Jeffery graces the second disc with his own patented brand of multiphonic utterance, making these sessions some of the most fascinating and rewarding in the Dunmall catalogus.