The Living Music Reissue

The Living Music Reissue

Alexander VonSchlippenbach

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In the third week of April, 1969, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach took a seven-piece ensemble comprised of German, Dutch and British musicians into Conny Plank’s Rhenus Studio in Godorf, near Köln. When the day was over, two separate LPs had been completed. Saxophonist Peter Brötzmann used the session to record enough material by a quartet (Brötzmann, bassist Buschi Niebergall, drummer Han Bennink and pianist Fred Van Hove, the latter of whom did not appear with the Schlippenbach band) for side-two of Nipples. (This group also recorded several additional tracks which were recently rediscovered; they will be released by UMS in the near future.) Earlier in the afternoon, Schlippenbach and his full band of accomplices recorded the entirety of The Living Music.

Schlippenbach initially issued the album on his own Quasar label. The cover was hand-silkscreened, designed by Schlippenbach himself. Like Brötzmann’s first two LPs and Sven-Ake Johansson’s Schlingerland, all of which were issued by record companies established by the musicians, The Living Music was reissued immediately after the exhaustion of its first run on Free Music Production (FMP), a new initiative that would soon become the predominant force in improvised music in Germany. Indeed, just a few weeks before the record was waxed, FMP mounted its inaugural workshop – what quickly be renamed Workshop Freie Musik – at Berlin’s Akademie der Künste. In its first incarnation, the event was titled Three Nights of Living Music and Minimal Art, and, along with a group that featured FMP keystone Jost Gebers on bass (before he gave up playing completely for producing), the weekend festival also presented two performances by the Schlippenbach Nonett. The pianist and composer assembled a septet the following March for the follow-up Workshop Freie Musik, and at FMP’s debut Total Music Meeting in November, 1970, his ensemble was billed as Living Music.

In spirit as well as name, "living music" was an integral part of the early years of FMP. Schlippenbach’s The Living Music remains one of the most glorious, if also one of the least well known, of the label’s adopted children. -John Corbett, Chicago, May 2002