Add to that list of dangerous European improvisers invading our shores of late -- John Butcher, Gianni Gebbia, Luc Houtkamp, Peter van Bergen -- the frighteningly articulate Wolfgang Fuchs from Germany. His Bits & Pieces: Solo & Duets, issued last year on Berlin's idiom-defining Free Music Production (FMP) label, is destined to influence the future direction of the unaccompanied format. The music's language is clear and resonant, playful-serious, and ripe with optimistic adventure. And it doesn't sound like anything else, which may baffle those who feel more comfortable with familiar company.
At one with the contrabass clarinet (the tyrannosaur of all reeds), bass clarinet (Eric Dolphy's pioneering vehicle for jazz and birdsong), and sopranino sax (perhaps the most demanding and delicate of the smaller saxophones), Fuchs comes across like some sort of preternatural, multilimbed animal. He sounds both human and alien, bestial and strangely electronic (at times), but natural as well. The controlled breath and the assured fingers on the palpitating keypads remind us of the human behind the impossibly inhuman vibrations.
Fuchs rolls melody upon melody, curls phrases and phrase loops in and out of each other's trajectories, rarely retreading previous trails. His in-the-moment creations arguably mimic the great cosmic boom itself. In short, it rocks. The reverberations of Fuchs' music will persist for generations to come.
Wolfgang Fuchs appears solo (with Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures playing the second set) on Sunday, Sept. 21, at 8:15 p.m. at Beanbender's (2295 Shattuck at Bancroft, Berkeley). Tickets are $5; call 621-1967. Fuchs also performs solo, and with a quartet and chamber ensemble, on Monday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m., at the Luggage Store, 1007 Market. Requested donation $5-10; call (510) 597-1769.
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