From NY’s downtown music gallery newsletter (by Bruce Lee Gallanter):
PETER HERBERT – aktionstheatre ensemble.2000 (aziza music 1002)
This is bassist and composer’s Peter Herbert’s music for nine different theatre pieces featuring a large (25 piece) ensemble of revolving musicians – the well-known players include Dave Tronzo, Dave Liebman, Bob Moses, Peter Madsen, Tomas Ulrich, Tom Varner and the vocals of Theo Bleckman and Dominique Eade. Each piece is broken into a few different sections. „Woyzeck Love Story“ begins our journey with somber, lush layers of clarinets, elegant percussion and a superb dreamy soprano sax from Dave Liebman. The second section is brief and has some wacky wordless vocals from Theo Bleckman, the third part has some a short but spirited clarinet solo from Adam Kolker and the last part of this section has some eerie waterphone, percussion and flute. „Nathan der Weise“ goes through a variety of short changing sections – from lovely acoustic bass and piano to bluesy, funky guitar from Tronzo. „Leonce & Lena“ has hazy, precious acoustic guitar, cello and minimal percussion – ever so slow and drifting. The next part has some old-time jazz solo piano, followed by a bit of two handed baroque piano and then some dark, muted modern piano played on the inside and on the keyboard both. „King Oedipus“ has layers of cellos which set a somber, yet playful mood – this turns into a tentative, yet intense duet for soprano sax and cello which answer each other weaving lines with just the right amount of echo to bathe us in a reflective, melancholy state. „Danton’s Tod speilen“ starts with some scary wind samples but soon both vocalists (Theo & Dominique) swoon and swirl their fine wordless vocals together – more scary samples appear, then some more enchanting layers of echoed vocals – these waves of dark and light sections continue throughout this piece – a great balance of opposite vibrations. Subtle operatic vocals and harpsichord are featured on „Lorenzaccio.Un Medici“ which then adds some of Tronzo’s slide guitar – with some short sections of drum’n bass to add some strange flavor as Tronzo adds his unique sound and spice throughout. „Das Madchen des Poeten“ has an odd mix of classical strings with some skewered jazz piano, then the piano alone plays the melody stated by the strings earlier. On „Kain“ we get a series of different parts and moods – layers on string fragments, samples of bleating sheep, tart pizzicato bass and strings swirling together – funky drum machine and synth vocals and somber, soothing vocals sailing on a warm trombone cloud. Each section has a way of transporting us through different evocative scenery and Peter Herbert has done a marvelous job of making this enchanting journey almost seamless as it moves through many moods and genres. I just wish we could hear the entire theatre pieces that these excerpts have come from, perhaps we will get a chance to hear some of these works in their entirety since Peter does live nearby some of the time.
all about jazz review (by Maurizio Comandini):
Music For Theater Peter Herbert – Aktionstheater Ensemble (Aziza Music – Austria/USA – 2000)
Peter Herbert, un’eccellente bassista austriaco, da tempo residente a New York, la cittˆ dove la nuova musica ha trovato da tempo un centro di gravitˆ permanente. Herbert, comunque, non ha interrotto i contatti con il suo paese di origine e ci presenta una quarantina di brevi brani, quasi dei bozzetti, scritti per performance teatrali dell’Aktionstheater Ensemble di Vienna. Sono lavori che coprono praticamente tutti gli anni novanta e presentano situazioni musicali decisamente difformi fra di loro. Si va da brani in duo con David Liebman al sax soprano per un „Edipo Re“ del 1994, a un gruppo allargato dalla strumentazione atipica come quello che vede quattro vocalists (fra i quali Theo Bleckmann), tre percussionisti, una tromba e un corno francese, oltre al basso del leader che assicura una sorta di continuitˆ assieme al pianista Peter Madsen, spesso presente. Il culmine viene raggiunto dai quattro bozzetti che vedono protagonisti Dave Tronzo, come sempre splendido alla slide guitar, la voce di Alexandra Montano e le tastiere di Sasi Shalom. Una musica cangiante per un teatro che sta cercando di trovare la chiave multimediale per giungere alla riscoperta della sacralitˆ perduta.