Inside Thule - 07.15
Lilanto De Indio - 03.11
Kirsten - 12.16
Orga Fleur Super Asam - 15.01
Paatirsdag - 5.16
Cadentia Nova Danica
The son of an Congolese diplomat father and Danish mother, John Tchicai was raised in Denmark, where he initially studied violin, though by his teens he had moved on to atlo saxophone and clarinet. He studied at the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen, then played European festivals where he met Archie Shepp and Bill Dixon. A part of the burgeoning avant-garde jazz scene in Europe in the early 1960s, he left for New York City in 1963, co-founding the ensemble the New York Contemporary Five with Shepp and Don Cherry. The group soon toured Sweden and recorded a movie soundtrack.
He also co-led the New York Art Quartet with Roswell Rudd, Lewis Worrell and Milton Graves. In 1966, Tchicai was one of many participants in John Coltrane’s breakaway avant-garde album “Ascension”, though he soon after returned to his homeland, where he founded the jazz workshop Cadentia Nova Danica. Others with whom he worked include Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, George Gruntz and Pierre Dørge’s New Jungle Orchestra. He led bands with his keyboardist wife while living in the U.S. in the 1990s.
Tchicai suffered a stroke in June 2012 and died the following October in France at the age of 76.
“Cadentia Nova Danica” is a 1968 sesison by the workshop featuring Tchicai with fellow alto saxophonist Karsten Vogel, baritone saxophonist Max Bruel (who doubles on piano), trombonist Kim Menzer, trumpeter Hugh Steinmetz, bassist Steffen Anderson and percussionists Giorgio Musoni and Ivan Hill. Vogel’s “Inside Thule” opens like a dirge with droning reeds, though the alto saxes soon diverge to play off one another as the horns and percussion add a potent background. The miniature Tchicai’s “Lilanto Del Indio” has an exotic, haunting air, with tight unison lines by the altos and horns, leading into a solo spotlighting Bruel’s dramatic piano. The focus of Tchicai’s insistent “Kirsten” is the lengthy percussion feature, with both the leader and Vogel possibly augmenting the two percussionist as well. This piece builds from a simple vamp into an intense workout. In the medley of “Orga Fleur Super Asam” and “Nova,” both works by Vogel, Bruel is featured in the former piece, with both Tchicai and Vogel, plus Menzer and Steinmetz engaging in spirited free improvisation over the percussionists, as Bruel returns on piano at the conclusion of “Nova.” Tchicai’s alto has a plaintive air in the miniature feature “Pa Tirstag,” where he is accompanied only by bass and percussion.