Avant-garde for the critics

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Dear Barry Witherden!

Thank you for listening to my latest (and as it will turn out: last) album This Is It. You could hear that we all can play but you disliked the style and obviously preferred the avant-garde way of playing, that I also have done for years.

I do not at all question that position. But I find this interesting and also confusing: 10 years ago together with Hugh Steinmetz I released a ”pure” avant-garde album. And nothing happened, not a word, no airplay, no gigs. Three years ago I released an album (also on Storyville), even more edgy, together with piano player Per Aage Brandt. Nothing happened, no reviews, no airplay, no gigs.

But when I make music in a more melodic area (and a more composed way – which I also really feel for) I am told: you should play free-form jazz in a less controlled way – and when you do, we will let you die in silence.

(By the way: On “Ouleeka” it is not Tchicai but me playing the alto saxophone).

But again: Thank you for listening.

Karsten Vogel

Barry Witherden replies: I am sorry my review displeased Mr. Vogel, who is a musician I respect.  I understand his frustration at the lack of attention paid to his avant garde recordings, but  I was reacting to the CD put before me.

A primary duty of a reviewer should be to distinguish between personal taste (an entirely subjective and sometimes inconsistent quality) and an honest assessment of the merits of the music presented.  I think I did this … my review readily acknowledged the quality of the compositions and performances on This Is It. I am sorry to hear that it will be his last album.