Listen to the seventh track, “Puppet Party,” on SoundCloud:
Meinrad Kneer recently agreed to answer a few questions about the making of Modern Primitive, which was recorded 29 October 2010 at a live concert in a former World War II bunker currently reimagined as a top jazz nightclub in Bielefeld, Germany.
Q: How did this project come about? Whose idea was it?
A: Jeff Platz and Jan Klare, who had worked together in the past, came to the Netherlands to perform with me in Utrecht. This was a few years back when I organized a free improv concert series at the SJU Jazzpodium (a club which doesn’t exist anymore, unfortunately). From that moment, we stayed in touch and planned further projects. Jan Klare invited me several times to come and perform with him in Münster and with Jeff Platz I did a little tour in the eastern part of Germany. When I started to play with Bill Elgart, the idea of coming together in this quartet was born.
Q: Approximately how many times did the four of you play together, rehearsing and playing concerts, before cutting the free improvisations found on Modern Primitive?
A: If I remember correctly, we had a series of three concerts set up and the third one was recorded live at a Bielefeld venue, Bunker Ulmenwall. There was no rehearsing at all, because we wanted to keep the interaction and the improvisations as free, fresh and open as possible.
Several reviewers have referenced the fluid chemistry between German bassist Kneer and American expat drummer Bill Elgart on tracks like “Puppet Party” and “Meat Dress.” Dave Wayne of allmusic.com stated in a November 2012 review: “Elgart has worked extensively with bassist Meinrad Kneer, which is evident in their deeply connected playing throughout.”
Watch a video for “Meat Dress,” the third track from Modern Primitive, on YouTube:
Q: How did you first meet Bill Elgart?
A: I grew up in a little town in the south of Germany and started to listen to jazz music around the age of 11. So, whenever I went to Ulm, the nearest city to listen to concerts, I often saw Bill who was involved in most activities since he lived there. He’s always been one of my favorite drummers, up there with the greats such as Paul Motian, Ed Blackwell, etc. Friends and colleagues of mine, including pianist Achim Kaufmann and reed player Michael Moore who had played with Bill before, encouraged me to ask him to come and play at an Evil Rabbit Records festival in the Bimhuis in Amsterdam and the SJU Jazzpodium in Utrecht (both in the Netherlands). So I dared to ask him to be our special featured guest and to play with other artists including Dutch pianist Albert van Veenendaal, Gianni Lenoci from Italy, and reed player Ab Baars from my duo … From that moment the duo was now a trio!
Q: Are there any anecdotes or memories that come to mind from the making of this German-American affair?
A: Not really. But I remember, that we had a really nice time together… I hope that we will have many possibilities to perform together again.
Meinrad Kneer and Dutch pianist Albert van Veenendaal founded Evil Rabbit Records in 2006. Modern Primitive is the label’s 18th release—last year’s Give No Quarter by the trio Baars, Kneer, Elgart, is their most recent offering.Q: Besides playing the bass, composing, and leading your own quintet, you’re the co-founder of a record company. How is this going? Can you comment on any upcoming releases?
A: Well, my friend and colleague Albert van Veenendaal and I started this venture in order to create a platform for ourselves and our fellow musicians, where our releases can be presented in a professional and unique design (by Lysander Le Coultre, strangelove creatives). I think we managed to reach this goal. On the other hand, the CD market went down of course. There we would love to change things, but this is beyond our reach…
We will definitely go on releasing music on this beautiful label. Next will be the recording of a Berlin based double bass quartet called Sequoia. It will be released in April 2014 and of course we have plans for the future, but I don’t want to talk about them yet.
Q: What is your sense about how the Internet is impacting the company, especially as compared to when you first started the label nearly a decade ago? May I ask, what percentage of your sales are CDs and what percentage are downloads?
A: The Internet is now the most important distribution channel for us, as for most other independent labels. Most of our sales are going through the net, physical CD’s and digital downloads. I’d say that at the moment the division between CD and digital download sales is about 50/50.
Q: Are there any projects that you are working on that you can discuss?
A: Upcoming activities include projects with my trio with Ab Baars and Bill Elgart, my Berlin based quintet, and at the label where there’s an exciting free improv trio with violinist Jon Rose and electronic wizard Richard Barrett that is currently gaining attention. We’ll have a tour from the 1st till the 8th of May 2014. Furthermore, I just launched another new project focused on German writer/ poet Christian Morgenstern’s (1871-1914) work. This is a kind of chamber music project, involving a soprano, a reciting male voice, a bass clarinet, a harp and of course my double bass. I composed pieces for it, but there’s also a lot of improvising, too. You can find some sounds HERE (it’s all in German, but if you scroll down, you’ll find some audio files).
Listen to “Impish Episode,” the eighth track on Modern Primitive:
In addition, “Beekeeper’s Song,” the opening track is available in the following album review by Ken Waxman at theshop.free-jazz.net.
Two years before recording Modern Primitive, saxophonist Jan Klare, guitarist Jeff Platz, bassist Alex Morsey, and drummer Christian Schönefeld performed “Hymnal” live at Duisburg, Germany:
And two years after the album, Ab Baars, Meinrad Kneer, and Bill Elgart played live at Kaleidophon in Ulrichsberg, Austria:
More About Modern Primitive
More From Meinrad Kneer
Music from the Meinrad Kneer Quintet [includes four songs]
Meinrad Kneer Discography
Rose, Kneer, Barrett – Colophony (2013) CD Creative Sources
Baars, Kneer, Elgart – Give No Quarter (2013) Download and CD Evil Rabbit Records
Carrousel – Mallemolen (2012) LopLop Records
Klare, Platz, Kneer, Elgart – Modern Primitive (2011) Download and CD Evil Rabbit Records
Willers, Kneer, Marien – Nulli Secundus (2011) CD Creative Sources
Bite the Gnatze – Peeling Off Slowly (2011) TryTone
Baraná Quintet – Sarap (2010) CD Baykus Music
Baars, Kneer – Windfall (2008) Download and CD Evil Rabbit Records
Spoon 3 – Seductive Sabotage (2008) CD Evil Rabbit Records
Bite the Gnatze – Wals door het raam (2007) TryTone
van Veenendaal, Kneer, Sun – Predictable Point of Impact (2006) CD TryTone Evil Rabbit Records
van Veenendaal, Kneer, Sun – Songs To Dance Strangely With (2005) CD TryTone
Bite the Gnatze – Wilde dans in een afgelegen berghut (2003) TryTone
Coming Soon: Tito Rinesi Discusses Working With Stefano Torossi
Guitarist-composer Tito Rinesi recently discussed making the Middle East (1996) album with Stefano Torossi as well as his work composing original music for silent movie soundtracks. Here’s an introduction to the music of Tito Rinesi, with pianist Michele Fedrigotti. This video uses hand cut silhouettes from Director Lotte Reininger’s 1926 silent film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, inspired by both Arabia’s One Thousand and One Nights and Chinese and Javanese shadow theater: