Composer/bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Gunter Hampel doesn’t get to these shores much, as European climes are notoriously more receptive to his brand of lyrical, swinging free jazz. Hampel has been at the jazz game since the 1960s he was among the first Euro-improvisers on the legendary ESP Disk label also he was of the generation of Euro-avant-jazzers who developed and defined a sound of their own, out of the shadows of the American giants. Like Charlie Mingus, many luminaries and then-to-be luminaries have passed through the ranks of his Galaxie Dream Band: Anthony Braxton, Mark Whitecage, Perry Robinson, Marion Brown, Willem Breuker, the late Jeanne Lee and the late Steve McCall, to name a few.
For his July NYC stand at the relatively new uptown club Triad (located handily very near Lincoln Center), Hampel had a swell quintet: Lou Grassi, drums; Ed Schuller, bass; Dmitry Baevski, alto sax; Clemens Orth, piano and GH on flute, vibes and bass clarinet, and the music was "accompanied" by "jazz breakdancer Prince Alegs. The latter was, alas, more of a distraction than an enhancement to the proceedings, as his movements were more appropriate to MTV Raps in the 80s. The music, however, was very fine: wailing, hard swinging hard bop with some unfettered, energized free passages. GH’s pieces had some of the wry simplicity of Monk and Ornette Coleman’s tunes and some of the elegance of John Lewis’ tunes. Everybody was fine ‘n’ hearty, but special mention was go to Baevski, whose sax had bright echoes of the tart bluesy wail of Cannonball Adderley and Ed Schuller’s rippling, sinuous, sinewy bass was a powerful presence. Hampel roared on bass clarinet without echoing Eric Dolphy and was crisply, brightly tuneful on the vibes. The sound at Triad was superb and the small crowd enthusiastic: a fun time, substantial sounds for all.