Those who have been scrutinizing the past adventures of Alfred 23 Harth – regularly reported on this very website – will definitely remember the name “Just Music”, a historic if slightly overlooked group that, in 1970, released a rather salient album on (then newborn) ECM label. Bassist Peter Stock was an important part of the collective throughout its course; after a long hiatus from performing, in 2009 he resumed activities in the ambit of German free-jazz and assembled this trio with Kuno Wagner (drums and toys) and Matthias Siegel (bass trombone), both affirmed specialists and teachers of their respective trades. This outstanding CD is the first recorded fruit of a hopefully fertile continuum for years to come.
Let’s not even deepen the sarcastic features of three central titles (respectively, “Küsse für Papandreou”, “Carla B.” and “In Bed With Merkozy”) showing that not everybody sleeps content with oneric imagery and cut-and-dried names. What we’re concerned about here, by now you should know, is how a record sounds. And Dreikönigstreffen sounds potent, agile-minded and balanced – a veritable jewel of forward-thinking improvisation that leaves nothing untouched. The lower frequencies – given the instrumental formation – are certainly an essential factor in the interplay’s impressive muscularity. Concepts are expressed with determinate imaginativeness and durable succinctness, assorted lines of thought fusing into a wholeness that doesn’t manage to spell the adjective “lazy”. There’s not a single hint of dogmatic posturing or smooth-talking frilliness: the acoustic body might be tending to the “massive” area, but the little nerves remain perfectly visible. 49 minutes gulped like a glass of fresh water, a must-have that sounds different from everything else.