5 May 2012

Gunter Hampel Quintet - Heartplants

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?

 Basic facts:
 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!


kinabalu said...



boogieman said...

Excellent post, probably the most accessible album of Gunther Hampel, and it swings! It had been posted in the past - the glorious days of Magic Purple Sunshine blog.

I'm still looking for a good vinyl copy at an affordable price.

As for the beginning of Free Jazz in Europe: this album for sure, and the Joe Harriott-Shake Keane collaborations,


onxidlib said...

A seminal recording at the transition from (more) mainstream to (more) free.

Since weeks I thought about posting my copy of it - already scanned the Cover - ;)

So I'll stick to the earliest Globe Unity...

Thanks for posting!

Cheers, Kinabalu!!!

kinabalu said...

@Onx: I actually thought about posting the first Globe Unity myself, but as you're on the case, I shall desist. I haven't even scanned the cover yet :-)

glmlr said...

It's always good (and healthy!) to be reminded of just how instrumental Manfred Schoof was in the birth of European free jazz / free improvisation. All along, he was right there in the heart of things. Globe Unity and AvS grew up out of Schoof's bands.

Vitko said...

Great album,
otherwise it is interesting that after military service in the late '50s, Hampel studied architecture while continuing to play music on the side. By 1958, he had started playing jazz professionally. In 1964, he established the "Heartplants" Quintet, which included Alex von Schlippenbach and Manfred Schoof. The group recorded Heartplants (MPS/SABA), Hampel's first album, which received a five-star rating from Down Beat magazine.
Thank you.

marten512 said...

I'm not normally a fan of Mr Hampel, but I really enjoyed this one. Thank you very much, Kinabalu.

Anonymous said...

Hi Any Chance For re-up of heartplants

J.D. Henson said...

More heartplants, if you please?