HIRT / THEURER / LEHN: Trinidad Happy Few Rec. CD: HF8

MARTIN THEURER - piano / THOMAS LEHN - Analog Synthesizer / ERHARD HIRT - guitar & electronics
recorded live at "cuba" / Münster 6.6.'99
Don't load up on the sunscreen, flip flops or piña coladas when contemplating the first of these discs. Despite the song titles, the closest the CD comes to the Caribbean is that it was recorded at a club in Münster, Germany named Cuba. Additionally, improv master Derek Bailey or electronic composer Iannis Xenakis would serve as better reference points than The Mighty Sparrow or any other calypsonian.
Simply put, Trinidad is another short -- less than 39 minutes -- seminar in free improv by three German masters of the form. Plus axe abuser Erhard Hirt, one of the full time practitioners of endangered guitarism, tosses some electronics into this mix as well.
Analog synthesizer maven Thomas Lehn, who brings along acoustic circuitry and has worked with Hirt in the past, is best known for his membership in the Konk-Pak trio. Pianist Martin Theurer, less known beyond Deutschland's borders, specializes in eviscerating the entrails of his keyboard, and recently was part of another memorable trio session called Zwi + Zwi Sind Drei with saxophonist Joachim Zoepf and cellist Sue Schlotte. Two of the tracks here, however, are duets between the pianist and the guitarist; one features a short Theurer-Lehn face off; the rest are trio excursions.
It's probably a tribute to the talent that even the more conventional chordal instruments are stretched to their limits. If a small piano passage is suggested as on "Sagua La Grande," it soon vanishes into piano harp strumming and string scratches.
But listen to "Little Cayman" if you want to hear a guitar sound like an Asiatic mandolin one minute and as part of a quirky string section the next. Flowing seamlessly into the next two selections you can soon detect what sounds like glass breaking and bells pealing in "Sierra Maestra" as well as acoustic piano chords sharing space with the whooshes and blurts of the synthesizer in the previous number. All in all, a fine effort from everyone concerned
Ken Waxman  Jazz Weekly