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This remarkable duo employs a battery of saxophones over the course of two suites, whose movements are helpfully broken into individual tracks. Critics heard echoes of Ellington, Steve Lacy, and ROVA Quartet in their beautifully sculpted melodies, riffs, and rhythms - as well as minimalism and classical canons. Recommended.
SWEET SOIL SUITE [1-8] - Compositions by Friedemann Graef.
SUITE "ZENGÖ 19" [9-21] - Compositions by Achim Goettert.
released January 1, 1998
All Music Guide: 4 Stars
"Saxophonists Graef and Goettert, veterans of numerous German and international ensembles, divide their CD into two very lengthy suites that employ a variety of compositional techniques and a range of saxophones. The first 32 minutes long, is by Graef, the second, 41 minutes, by Goettert. The compositions range from rounds and canons through Weill to more traditional Jazz forms, to minimalism and sonic explorations, but what distinguishes the work is its extraordinarily clear performance values and adherence to strongly architectural musical principles. While the two player’s identities are often sublimated in the tightly written parts, their individuality is apparent in the number of pieces where their altos and tenors are paired and improvisation is more explicit. Graef is tidier, more precise, and a master of cool sonics; Goettert, more vocalic, looser and funkier. It’s a nice contrast, and the CD will appeal to those who enjoy ROVA’s broad spectrum of approaches."
- Cadence Magazine
"Here are a pair of German saxophonists that understand the most elementary nuances of composing and playing together: there is no single dominant voice in any piece of music; all ensembles, no matter the size, exist because of balance. Graef and Goettert are players who are comfortable with each other in virtually any setting they choose: both are composers and improvisers of the highest degree, and are each highly adaptable given their diverse musical backgrounds. The two compositions here, "Sweet Soil Suite" by Graef and "Suite Zengo 19" by Goettert, are both multipart works where saxophones are played and exchanged throughout with compositionally structured frameworks that allow for many, many surprises along the way. The humor and structure are firmly in the jazz idiom, from Gershwin to Monk, but also echo Bartok and swing blues. With the deep blues at the core of these compositions, and the expert carrying out of their expression, no matter the means used to do so, this pair are jazzers and these are jazz suites in the same way Ellington's were — just sparser, that's all. The music is complex, full of mystery, surprise, and humor. It is a delight to listen to, and one can even be awed by it on occasion — why do you think we call it jazz?"
- All Music Guide
"The two explore a wide range of possibilities in the use of two saxophones – call & response, two independent lines, unison playing, intertwining melodies – and produce a highly melodic end result, between them using bass, baritone, tenor, alto and soprano saxes in almost every conceivable combination. Both players produce exquisite tones throughout, and these are well captured by the recording. This is a highly entertaining album, full of variety."
"These cerebral saxophone duets gracefully avoid the cold, calculating stereotype some assign to experimental European jazz. Graef and Goettert each have an impressive resume spanning jazz, chamber music, improv, and collaborations with theater, dance, film, and the visual arts. Synthesizing this wide variety of artistic strategies makes for an organic, slyly mercurial musical experience with enough interesting ideas that any overt similarities to Steve Lacy’s approach can be easily forgiven."
"Both suites are surprisingly light and airy affairs, seeming to draw much more on traditional, melodic American jazz than anything usually associated with German avant-garde."