In any discussion of what marks the starting point of European free jazz, this record might be high up on the list. We have posted Francois Tusques' "Free Jazz" in the past which was out in 1965 in France, certainly a turning point in the evolution of French jazz. This combo is German, however, and these are studio recordings from 1964, originally out on the Saba label, but here from a 70s reissue on Crystal Jazz.
Whether this is "free" jazz as commonly understood, is debatable imho, most of it is fairly melodic, though there are instances of unbound collective improvisation on the Schlippenbach-penned "Iron Perceptions". Nonetheless, in the detailed liner notes inside the gatefold sleeve, there are careful annotations about each track in which the individual musicians explain the structure and purpose of each piece. One epithet that might fit, to the extent that these terms carry any determinate meaning, is "structural" jazz and the pieces here certainly are well organised and thought out.
Joachim E. Berendt, the producer, makes a somewht overstated point about the Europeanness of this music, linking it to the cognitive heritage of the European tradition, which might have made sense at the time of writng, though not from the vantage point of 45 plus years on. Hampel was very much inclined to collaborate with kindred spirits on the other side of the pond, which we have documented in the past and will do again. Of course, we'll have more on the formative years of European free jazz, but one thing at a time, eh?
Gunter Hampel - Heartplants Crystal Jazz 066 CRY 45 306 (1979)
A1 Heartplants (Alexander von Schlippenbach)
A2 No Arrows (Buschi Niebergall)
A3 Iron Perceptions (Alexander von Schlippenbach)
B1 Our Chant (Manfred Schoof)
B2 Without Me (Gunter Hampel)
Gunter Hampel - Vibraphone [Vibes], Flute, Leader
Manfred Schoof - Trumpet
Alexander von Schlippenbach - Piano
Buschi Niebergall - Bass
Pierre Courbois - Drums
Producer – Joachim E. Berendt
Engineer – Rolf Donner
Recorded By [Recording Director] – H.G. Brunner-Schwer, W. Fruth
Recorded at Saba-Studio, Villingen, Germany on January 30, 1965. Originally released in 1965 as SABA SB 15026.
This was another second-hand find and as far as I know, not generally avaailable anymore, except, possibly, from other second-hand sources. Enjoy (as always) and revitalise the past! We'll certainly lend a helping hand!