Brötzmann/Pliakas/Wertmüller Trio brings European free jazz to the New Hazlett | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Brötzmann/Pliakas/Wertmüller Trio brings European free jazz to the New Hazlett

click to enlarge The Brtzmann/Pliakas/Wertmller Trio - PHOTO COURTESY OF OLIVER HEISCH
Photo courtesy of Oliver Heisch
The Brtzmann/Pliakas/Wertmller Trio

Active in expanding definitions and expectations since the 1960s, Peter Brötzmann is perhaps the elder statesman of European free jazz. The German woodwind player (and visual artist) takes winds to the extreme; the most intense and least melodic moments of John Coltrane or Albert Ayler are just a starting point in much of his work.

Collaborating with countless musicians, often and notably Han Bennink (of Instant Composer's Pool fame), Brötzmann has made a slew of improv records based on winds paired with a rhythm section. His work since the mid-'90s with his group, the Chicago Tentet, has also found acclaim. He appears Tue., June 9, at the New Hazlett Theater with his current lineup, the Brötzmann/Pliakas/Wertmüller Trio.

The Brötzmann/Pliakas/Wertmüller material centers on the frenetic end of improvisational jazz; Brötzmann bleats out saxophone screams as the rhythm section moves faster than humans likely ought to. Bassist Marino Pliakas scales the frets, "Flight of the Bumblebee"-style; percussionist Michael Wertmüller flails. There are breaks now and then for contemplation; other moments, such as on the trio's Full Blast album (recorded live in 2006), suggest a doom-like vibe, not unlike the guitar-and-drums improv of James Plotkin and Tim Wyskida.

While the group plays in a traditional jazz-trio setup, its members are clearly well-versed in other genres that have come to bear in the years since jazz's heyday. The overarching point, though, is something common to free jazz, hardcore and any number of other forms of extreme music: energy.


Brötzmann/Pliakas/Wertmüller Trio with Centipede Eest. 8 p.m. Tue., June 9. New Hazlett Theater, Allegheny Square East, North Side. $15. 412-320-4610 or

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