Peter Brotzmann’s Die Like a Dog Quartet is my favorite of the many bands the protean saxophonist has played with during his career. The musical telepathy exhibited by Brotzmann, trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake is simply out of this world. That’s about the best description of the music, as well. While fans of Brotzmann’s familiar sonic aggression won’t be disappointed, the music on these four discs consistently explores intriguing and less contentious areas of harmonic space. There’s plenty of darkness, to be sure, yet it’s tempered by the supple, open feeling established by Parker and Drake’s rhythmic conception, which often grounds the music in something approaching structure. They are arguably the tightest and most inventive rhythm section Brotzmann has ever fronted. And in Kondo (who plays trumpet and contributes electronics), Brotzmann has found his most unique front-line partner, a musician who both complements the setting and establishes something apart from it. Kondo’s like an electrified Miles on acid, yet his conception is even more out there than Miles even dared. The trumpeter alternates white-hot banshee wails with an informal lyricism that seems to have similarly inspired Brotzmann, who indulges in surprisingly affecting moments of introspection. The two combine to produce an inexhaustible flow of ideas, raining down thunder while spitting out shards of tonality that drift in and out of the not-quite-as-dissonant-as-it-seems mix. Ultimately, this music is impossible to adequately describe or even categorize. Most will call it free jazz, but it goes way beyond that descriptor. It might be more accurately described as healing balm for the spirit and the soul. All you need to know is that you need to have this set in your collection. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of free jazz, Die Like a Dog will make you a believer.
I would recommend this to a friend