logo   The Wels Concert (OD12013)
Musicians Peter Brötzmann — tarogato, e-flat clarinet, alto & tenor sax
Hamid Drake — frame drum, tablas, drums
Mahmoud Gania — guembri, voice
Cover and Artwork cover

Cover art: Raimund van Well
Cover concept: Peter Brötzmann
Graphics: Louise Molnar

Songs 1. Part 1 (25:46) (MPEG2)
2. Part 2 (25:15)
3. Part 3 (19:17)
total time: 70:20

All compositions by Peter Brötzmann (GEMA) and Hamid Drake (Smiling Forehead/BMI)

Recording Info Recorded at Schlachthof Wels (Austria) — Festival Music Unlimited 96, November 8, 1996

Produced by: Peter Brötzmann, Hamid Drake, IMI-Gerlinde Koschik, John Corbett
Executive Producer: Bruno Johnson
Engineer: Franz Prummer
Final mastering and editing: John McCortney (Airwaves Studios)

Reviews ...you’ll find no political themes on The “Wels” Concert (OkkaDisk), but the trance-inducing polyrhythms whipped up by Moroccan guembri (an acoustic instrument that resembles a bass guitar) player Mahmoud Gania and American drummer Hamid Drake command an especially primal yet nuanced performance from German reed player Peter Brötzmann. You might have heard him with Last Exit or in duet with his guitarist son Caspar, but this disc exceeds those performances for sheer hypnotic power.

[picked as one of the best five free/jazz albums of 1997]

— Bill Meyer, Magnet, Jan/Feb 1998

Peter Brötzmann is an international treasure, a granddaddy of sorts of free-style jazz, and a continual innovator. He has inspired and influenced scores of disciples and stood as a beacon for more than thirty years of unadulterated braying.

Although marred by poor recording quality (Brötzmann sounds at times like he is playing from deep inside a well), The Wels Concert, a live set recorded in Austria in late 1996 at the Schachthof Wels Festival mUsic Unlimited 96, works remarkably well. It is essentially three long “Parts”, each 19 to 26 minutes long, featuring the trio of Brotzmann, Hamid Drake, and Mahmoud Gania. There are no liner notes, which is a shame, particularly because it would be nice to know how this group came together, who Gania is, what the guembri is (it is not found in my dictionaries or reference guides) and similar queries.

The live forum and the lengthy recording times give the players the chance to stretch, Brotzmann building tension with perpetuated tones served over an entrancing blend of elongated percussion and guembri. The guembri is some sort of stringed instrument, with a sound resembling a string bass, but evidently without the advantage of speed. Here, it complements an extraordinary performance by Drake (although he is mixed far too close). Gania shows his mettle on African vocals, too, with a surprisingly mesmerizing chant sung throughout above Drake’s aggressive drumming and Brotzmann’s saxophone screams. While not usually attracted to drone, this recording somehow soothes as it challenges, inviting the listener into a world of timeless chant: no less free and hardly less cacophonous, but perhaps more hypnotic, rock-like, with a touch of “world” music.

The Wels Concert shows a different side to free improvisation and one that not only works, but adds a new dimension, an overlooked nook, a glimpse at eternity. What more can one expect?

— Steven A. Loewy, Cadence, February 1998