Remarkable German trombonist Johannes Bauer died today at 61. (No other details have yet been made public.) The younger brother of fellow trombonist Conny Bauer, he was a longtime fixture in European improvised music, an imaginative and talented player who privileged an ensemble-oriented approach over individual grandstanding. In fact, in his vast discography, which stretches back to 1979, I can’t find a single recording where name sits alone on an album’s cover—he always worked as sideman or a participant in collective endeavors. His list of regular collaborators included reedist Peter Brötzmann, bassist Barry Guy, and saxophonist Manfred Schulze, and he worked regularly in many durable ensembles, including Doppelmoppel (with his brother), Slawterhaus, and Globe Unity Orchestra.
In recent years Bauer made numerous visits to Chicago as a member of Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet, and last summer he played a trio concert at Experimental Sound Studio with drummer Paul Lytton and vibist Jason Adasiewicz. He had a brawny tone but could shape lines of remarkable agility and sleekness, which helped him adapt to the diverse contexts he sought out. Below you can hear several pieces he played on, beginning with a track from collaborative quartet iTi, where he was joined by Chicago reedist Ken Vandermark, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, and synthesizer player Thomas Lehn; it comes from the project’s sole recording, Artificat: iTi Live in St. Johann (Okka Disk). That’s followed by an extended piece by Barry Guy’s New Orchestra, from its 2014 album Amphi—Radio Rondo (Intakt). Last is a piece by Doppelmoppel (which also included guitarists Joe Sachse and Uwe Kropinski) from the 1996 album Reflections (FMP).
Kirk Knuffke, Little Cross (Steeplechase)
James Brandon Lewis, Days of FreeMan (OKeh)
Masabumi Kikuchi/Ben Street/Thomas Morgan/Kresten Osgood, Kikuchi/Street/Morgan/Osgood (ILK)
Jen Shyu & Jade Tongue, Sounds and Cries of the World (Pi)
Simon Toldam Trio, Kig Op (ILK)