Thursday, November 02, 2006

MPS Musik produktion Swarzwald

At the end of the 60’s Düsseldorf wasn’t the first German city to start proposing different music to the European and Worldwide public thanks to such groups as Kratwerk and Neu, it wasn’t the last one either. Right in the middle of the Black Forest there is a little town called Villigen that would become a kind of Mecca for a new type of Jazz, the so called Krautjazz. In this town, during those days, there was born the label MPS Musik Produktion Shwarzwald. MPS was a kind of open house to experimentation, for that regarding the type of jazz as well as its instrumentation, things like the Indian Sitar, new recording techniques or instrumentation such as the Moog that had never been used for jazz, at least not in that period. MPS touched on Latin tastes, oriental sounds, vocal jazz, scat jazz, space spirituals and jazzy experimentations that anticipated the so called Jazz Fusion of the 70’s. Inside 15 years MPS published 700 titles, many of them of the highest quality. The boss of this label was the pianist Hans George Brunner Schwer who started off in 1968 with a session called ‘Midnight Session’, a kind of private session with the mythical Oscar Peterson, I have to point out though that there exist recordings before this date such as “SABA Stereo Sound”. Many jazz artists, not only European, wanted to make albums on MPS: from Oscar Peterson (as mentioned before) with “Exclusively For My Friends” (from Vol. 1 to Vol. 6 – 1963/1968) to Pony Poindexter, then Mark Murphy, Archie Shepp, Bill Evans, Maynard Ferguson, Novi Quartet, the Polish Novi Singers, Wolfgang Dauner, Dave Pike, Art Farmer, Johnny Teupen, Red Garland, George Duke, Karin Krog or Charlie Antolini and his Soul Beat. At the beginning of the 90’s the maestro Gilles Peterson put together a series of compilations containing many pieces from this label (“Talkin’ Jazz”) creating the same effect on the market as the Blow Up DJ’s in London with the label Music Library (see my last column). Thanks to him, and the DJ’s of Mojo as well as my willingness to learn, I started hunting down original MPS pieces of vinyl, even if the coming about of compilations has heightened the prices even more on the market. When you got an original copy in your hands you began to realise also that whoever it was who wrote the credits on the Talkin Loud compilations made a few mistakes in their citations… sadly enough this also happens with me. Seeing as I am a lover of the Sitar I started looking for the works by the Dave Pike Set like “Four Reasons” or “Infra Red”, that’s without mentioning “Noisy Silence Gentle Noise” which contains “Mathar”, then there was “The Oimels” by Wolfgang Dauner but I don’t wish to mention just the better known titles… Many productions contained standards as well as a few gems that could be used in a ‘Soul Beat’ ambience but in general you weren’t talking about classic jazz because it always had that something extra. Just a short while ago I realised that Charlie Antolini had called one of his albums ‘Soul Beat’, thus I understood that my taste is that which was and is the Soul Beat for roughly 35 years. Now, as usual, I will make a list of some titles I have selected for you: The Singers Unlimited “Ctyri Z Nàs” (Polish versions of course), Johnny Teupen “Plays Harp”, Baden Powel “Images On Guitar”, Dave Pike Set “Four Reasons”, Ira Kriss “Jazzanova”, Bora Rokovic “Ultra Native”, Wolfgang Dauner “Etcetera Live”, “The Oimels” and “Jankows Keyboard”… naturally there are also loads of others. The fact remains that a lot of the time you think of American jazz as conventional jazz but just like all of the things in the Soul Beat colours and nations are relative… The Soul Beat continues its journey towards the truth of the groove. Til next time and… peace all over the forests!
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