An intriguing composer and ambitious pianist, German musician Wolfgang Dauner has combined jazz, rock, electronic music, and elements of opera and theater in creating broad-based, ranging works. While at times these compositions may seem too far-reaching, Dauner's best work shows the links between idioms and genres and offers provocative musical and cultural concepts. He studied trumpet, piano, and composition at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart, then joined Joki Freund's sextet in the early '60s. Dauner appeared at several German festivals, then made his recording debut heading a trio in 1964. It was one of the first European free jazz recording sessions. Dauner led Radio Jazz Group Stuttgart and wrote compositions for them in 1969. He formed the jazz-rock band Et Cetera in 1970, then, with Hans Koller, co-led the Free Sound & Super Brass Big Band. He helped organize the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble in 1975, and began featuring theater, opera, and dance segments along with his performances in '70s and '80s concerts. Dauner's composed music for films, radio, and television broadcasts, and a children's opera. He's recorded for Mood, Columbia, MPS, and ECM, among others, and he has a number of sessions available on CD. ~ Ron Wynn
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Jazz - Released February 26, 2016 | Timba Records
Jazz - Released January 31, 2014 | MPS
Wolfgang Dauner's Free Action was one of the most sought after sessions recorded for Saba in the late '60s, though in early 2008 it finally reappeared on CD. This adventurous session of originals by the pianist includes violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Gerd Dudek, cellist Eberhard Weber, bassist Jürgen Karg, and two drummers, Mani Neumeier and Fred Braceful. Although Dauner is the leader, he treats himself as part of the ensemble and doesn't overly dominate the performances. The music alternates between accessible melodies reminiscent of Charles Mingus in spots, though there is often a quick transformation into much looser frameworks where chord structure and rhythm is quickly abandoned. The exotic disguise adds Neumeier on tabla, though Ponty's slashing violin is similar to his avant-garde leaning records as a leader during this period. Dudek's leaps on tenor sax in "Free Action Shot" suggest the influence of Eric Dolphy, while the furious pizzicato of the strings alternates with mournful arco lines. The extended work "My Spanish Disguise" utilizes prepared piano with the strings in a striking performance. Wolfgang Dauner is not as widely known outside Europe as he ought to be, but this striking reissue is a great starting place for those who are unfamiliar with his work. ~ Ken Dryden
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