• 1. BERLINTRO (09:38)
  • 2. BERL IN ZIL (05:26)
  • 5. PRIMUS (16:24)
  • 6. SECUNDUS (04:34)
  • 7. TERTIUS (13:18)
  • 8. QUARTUS (12:24)

Solo in Berlin 1975


Trombone – Paul Rutherford

Recorded a year after his acclaimed masterpiece, "The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie", these three festival sets are at least as good. They find Rutherford at his most original and inventive, making wild music by enhancing his trombone with his voice, with mutes and other objects, as well as using his awesome speed and stunning range. No-one else has made the trombone sound like this, before or since. 75 minutes.

Excerpts from sleeve notes:
These recordings were among those that Paul Rutherford had been trying to get issued for several years. I had made enquiries about obtaining them, but sadly the tapes did not materialise until after his untimely death. I have never understood why interest in artists seems to increase after they are no longer around to appreciate it.

However, the music contained herein is so superb that it is crying out to be put into the public domain, rather than continue to languish in the vaults. Until now Rutherford’s masterpiece has generally been considered to be "The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie" – quite rightly in my opinion (vested interests aside) – but I think this Berlin collection from the following year is at least as good. Hopefully it will help to illustrate why I consider Rutherford (along with Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, and a handful of others) to have been one of the greatest innovative and creative instrumentalists.

Everything that can be done with a trombone is here thanks to a free spirit let loose with his imagination. There is fairly conventional playing, at times very fast, but always involving unexpected intervals and a large tonal range. There is the use of mutes (missing from his latter-day performances) and other 'objects' (including a trombone-activated piano on two tracks). There is his way of allowing fluid to accumulate in the slide to create popping noises. And there is the incredible use of his voice to create multi-phonics.

When I was still with my mum and dad, I used to play in front of the mirror just to watch what I was doing, and I had this feeling that you could sing and play at the same time. I used to do that. A little while later someone played me Sequenza V by Berio and they’re doing multi-phonics, singing and playing, and I said I’m doing that already. (PR 2000.)

So it would seem that he discovered how to use his voice independently of the Berio piece. Certainly Albert Mangelsdorff freely admitted that Rutherford inspired his use of multi-phonics. Some years later by the time of these Berlin recordings, Rutherford had developed even further to somehow use his voice and instrument to get as many as four or five things happening simultaneously by splitting notes. However, do not think of this record as being a catalogue of bizarre techniques. It is essentially great, original and innovative music.

This CD contains the three solo performances that he gave in 1975 at the two Berlin festivals organised by FMP. BERL IN ZIL was issued on an FMP sampler and titled by the performer. The titles of the remaining previously unissued pieces have had to be devised without his unique titling capabilities, although those of tracks 3 & 4 are based on his irreverent announcements.
“I think that the great thing about art is that it can enhance people’s life and conception of things. Therefore I don’t believe in making it simple for people. I see musicians and artists as part of the conscience of society, trying to make things a bit better for humanity. This lovely planet is in such a terrible state at the moment. Musicians and artists can help to make it slightly better for people. It doesn’t mean playing them silly songs. That’s what the pop business takes care of – playing them trash. As far as I’m concerned that makes for a dull person because they’re not being stimulated. Even if the stimulation is sort of negative – like they don’t like it – that’s at least a reaction – something for them to think about or talk about. (PR 1998.)

Paul Rutherford’s music certainly did enhance the lives of most of the people who heard it, and will continue to do so via the recordings. This is one of the very best ones. Listen, and be enhanced.

(The two quotes from Paul Rutherford come from interviews that were broadcast on 'Jazz on 3' on BBC Radio 3.)

Album label: 
Release date: 
01.11 / 2007
Recording date: 
31.03 / 1975
Recording location: 
Berlin FMP Festivals March 31 & November 7/8
Artwork design : Jak Kilby & Martin Davidson
Mastering engineer : Martin Davidson
Producer : Martin Davidson

You might also like