Tied & Tickled Trio
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Tied & Tickled Trio , 7/10
EA1 EA2 , 6.5/10
Electric Avenue Tape , 6.5/10 (live)
Observing Systems (2003), 6/10
Aelita (2007) , 6.5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Tied & Tickled Trio is a German ensemble that borrows members from bands like Notwist (Markus Acher), Village of Savoonga, and others. The instrumentation (notably saxophonist Johannes Enders) is inspired to 1960s cool jazz and jazz-rock, but the solos flow as if hypnotized and the group improvisations is icy as if "digitized". Tied & Tickled Trio (Payola, 1998) is an essay in electronic post-jazz, a genre that weds Tortoise and Miles Davis, a genre that vivisects notes rather than just playing them, a genre that avoids extremes because it is more interested in the average. Every point of the trajectory is, ultimately, merely a point. Rara Avis, Mutant, Nordlied and Tusovska Dub mix dozens of references and yield smooth, relaxing ambience. T&TT sounds like a new age version of the harshest electronic music and free-jazz of the 1960s. Gil Evans' orchestral suites plotted something similar in those days.

The production on EA1 EA2 (Payola, 1999) is so polished that the avantgarde element is almost lost in the proceedings. All six members excel at the arrangements/improvisation. Andreas Gerth's electronic keyboards lead the sterilized jazz-rock of Unwohlpol that sounds like Weather Report jamming with Tricky. Closer to the jazz tradition is also the piano-driven ballad Yolanda. The fantastic horn section of Ulrich Wangenheim's clarinet, Johannes Enders' saxophone and Micha Acher's trombone intones the joyful fanfare of Van Brunt over forceful, quasi-tribal drumming. The rhythms of Markus Acher and Christoph Brandner are instrumental in forging enough infrastructure and geometry for this kind of restrained, tamed group improvisation.
The ensemble's most daring moments are also the most rewarding. Watery reverbs circulate in the hypnotic shuffle of Sevastopol, an acid-raga for the post-rock generation. The dischordant counterpoint of Db Track sounds like a cubistic deconstruction of Miles Davis' cool jazz, an embodiment of urban neurosis in the post-industrial age. Another complex composition, Utrom, finds a precarious balance between futurism and emotion, cyclic beats encircling funk bass, geometry luring mass (the instruments) into fallacious (harmonic) assumptions, This Heat dancing with Matching Mole. Almost completely indifferent to texture, the sextet invests all its capital in dynamics: a piano that strums a melody, African percussions that build up pressure, the horn section engage in a hymn-like form (4 Pole).

The live album Electric Avenue Tape (Clearspot, 2001) is even more elegant than the previous releases, and represents an even more effective (and transparent) bridge between 1950s' cool jazz and 1990s' post-rock. United World Elevator is the centerpiece: a 12-minute jam that starts out with disjointed minimalist piano patterns and thin metallic percussion (shaker plus drum machine) before delving into sax-led free-jazz jamming (the equivalent of Colosseum's Valentyne Suite for the glitch-rock scene). The nine-minute closer, Konstantinopel, is a chaotic jazz piece dominated by the saxophone. Two of the jams, Van Brunt/Van Ness and Sevastopol Version, had already appeared on EA1 EA2. Tusovska Dub Version appeared on Tied & Tickled Trio (1998). Here they get reworked and amplified, particularly Sevastopol Version.

Observing Systems (Morr, 2003) is another serving of unorthodox jazz delicatessen, that promotes Tied & Tickled Trio to ideal heirs of Canterbury's prog-rock scene. The numerous horns duel among themselves and then against the steady rhythm in the seven-minute The Long Tomorrow. The obsessive groove of Motorik is suspended between skipping beats and whirring saxophone. If nothing matches these two visions, there are many other demonstrations of creative elegance: the comic reggae of Revolution, the noir swing of 34E, the exotic free-jazz fanfare of Freakmachine, the subdued Brazilian jamming of Like Armstrong & Laika, the romantic jazz-rock of Bungalow.
The shorter non-jazz interludes that separate the longer pieces (the eerie Radio Jovian above all) display a formidable sonic intelligence whose only drawback is the lack of a major, genre-defining composition.

A.R.C. (Morr Music, 2006) contains a 19-minute free jam.

Aelita (Morr, 2007) is a wordless concept album whose gloomy dub-drenched ethnic-tinged instrumental post-rock is a mutation of the traditional Tied & Tickled Trio sound, shifting from jazz towards chamber music, while synthesizers and vibraphones lend the proceedings a sci-fi feeling (Tamaghis, A Rocket Debris Cloud Drifts, Other Voices Other Rooms). The four lengthy tracks (that alternate with four shorter ones) balance the elegant flow of a jazz improvisation and the cold geometry of a classical composition.

Johannes Enders had formed in 1996 his own Quartet that debuted with Reflections Of South Africa (september 1992), with Hiltomn Schilder on trumpet, Basil Moses on bass and Kevin Gibson on drums, and was augmented on Discoveries (august 1993) with Adrian Mears. After Scalenders, that released This And More (december 1993), with Stefan Schmid on keyboards, Martin Scales on guitars and synth, Patrick Scales on bass and Falk Willis on drums, Enders returned to his quartet with Home Ground (september 1996), this time with pianist Roberto Di Gioia, bassist Thomas Stabenow and drummer Guido May. After another project, Trio Impossible, that recorded a self-titled on november 1997, the quartet became a quintet on Bright Nights (november 1997) and Quiet Fire (april 1999). The next project was Enders Room documented on Monolith (2002) and Human Radio (2004). Soprano (january 2004) was a collaboration with Oliver Kent (piano), henning Sieverts (bass) and John Hollenbeck on drums. Engrad debuted with The Color Of Water (march 2004) with Herwig Gradischnig on tenor sax, Thomas Stabenow on bass and Howard Curtis on drums. Hotel Alba (2006) was a trio with pianist Roberto Di Gioia and trumpeter Sebastian Studnitzky. Dome (june 2007) was a different project, mixing his saxophone with electronics, clarinet, organ, trumpet and drums. Menawhile, Enders Room kept evolving: Random Guru (2008) featured alto saxophonist Glenn Mueller, pianist Roberto Di Gioia, guitarist Gerd Baumann, trumpeter Micha Acher and drummers; whereas Zen Tauri (2010) featured guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, Billy Hart and John Hollenbeck on drums, Acher on trumpet and bass clarinet by Stefan Schreiber. Carl Oesterhelt and Johannes Enders conceived a Divertimento fur Tenor Saxophon und kleines Ensemble (2010). The quartet Kyoto (Joe Locke on vibraphone, Ed Howard on bass and Christian Salfellner on drums) debuted with Mau Pin (november 2002).

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