Price: 15.10 €
Purchase Order No.: 009
Wolfgang Fuchs contrabass clarinet, bass clarinet, sopranino sax
Peter van Bergen tenor sax
Radu Malfatti trombone
Melvyn Poore tuba
Phil Wachsmann violin, live electronics
Anne LeBaron harp
Bertram Turetzky double bass
Fernando Grillo double bass
Paul Lytton percussion, live electronics
Guest vocalists:
Boris Aljinovic actor/speaker
Phil Minton voice
Irena Bart-Greiner soprano
Intro Urs Jaeggi
The Concert
Warming Up I
Warming Up II
Total time:  68:24

All music by Fuchs (GEMA), van Bergen (BUMA/STEMRA), Malfatti (GEMA), Poore (GEMA), Wachsmann (PRS/MCPS), LeBaron (ASCAP), Turetzky (BMI), Grillo (SIAE ), Lytton (PRS/GEMA), Bart-Greiner, Minton (PRS/MCPS), Aljinovic

Recorded live at the Total Music Meeting in Berlin on Nov 7 & 8, 2003 by Hrólfur Vagnsson
Assistance: Carsten Klopfer
Mixed and mastered by Hrólfur Vagnsson & Wolfgang Fuchs
Produced by Helma Schleif, John Rottiers, Peter van Bergen, Phil Wachsmann, Melvyn Poore, Wolfgang Fuchs
Booklet-Cover (motive): Franciszka Themerson (Ubu Comic Strip, 1970)
Design: wppt:komunikation

Thanks to Urs Jaeggi, John Rottiers (Radio Centraal, Antwerp), Jasia Reichardt, Nick Wadley (Themerson Archive, London), Klaus Horngacher (Horngacher GmbH, Starnberg) and all contributors for their generous support

LC 12005
EAN-Code: 4260013680101
P + C 2004

First released: Nov 4, 2004

Twenty Years of King Übü Örchestrü
The painter facing the white canvas
Improvised music arises from silence
Übü is the place where EARsome improvisers interact.
For Übü, there is no set personnel. Not only because of the guests that we occasionally like to invite, but because of the different developments that every player is going through with his or her own, mostly smaller ensemble before another meeting with Übü comes up. Hence, the participants´ names are the same by and large, but their bearers have reached a different musical plane through the years. Thus, Übü is a new ensemble each time its members get together. The new idea for this concert was to invite three vocalists (Boris, Irena, and Phil) who, totally independent of each other, worked with the text of Alfred Jarry´s play ´Ubu Roi´ (1896). Without prior consultation, they musically shaped parts of the text as they went along.
The Übü´s collective-productive seventh sense shows in the two minutes of silence shortly before the end of the first piece, initiated by a phrase repeated by Boris several times - in German. Amazingly, half of these Übü musicians don´t have any German…
The result in hand is encouragement for us to continue this project.
Long live Übü!

Wolfgang Fuchs, August 8, 2004

P.S.: Thanks to Urs for the introduction, and to those who made this CD possible through their contribution.
(English version by Werner Merz)

I¹m supposed to provide an introduction, well actually I wasn¹t supposed to,
but I got the message this evening, just as BSC Hertha scored their second
goal and then I said, OK. Of course I could actually begin with
King Ubu: say u-a-a-h-o-o-o or his famous merdre: mer-, mer-, merd, merdr,
or Schreiße, Schrei, Schr...
That´s the funny thing about Jarry, he lives from the fact that he didn¹t
call shit shit, rather it¹s just an unusual theatre piece which had a great
influence at least on my generation because after the 2nd World War came the
Theatre of the Absurd and that was actually the kind of theatre that we were
interested in. That was Ionesco, Adamov, Beckett, of course, and maybe it´s
difficult to compare these people with Jarry because of the language, but
nevertheless, the way he deals with reality, how he goes at it, for us at
that time was something which we didn¹t learn in school, or anywhere else,
but we read it, we tried to act it ourselves and that was really something.

"By my green candle, shittr, I think I finished him off, by my green candle…"

The piece had various names, amongst others Les Polonais, although I haven¹t
had the chance to find out why. It surprised me. But it could have been
any of them. He writes ´Cook 150 oxen and sheep´. I¹m very curious how it
can be translated into music. After all the things I¹ve heard at this
Total Music Meeting I think it will turn out great. Philippe Soupault, one of the
important French Surrealists, said: "Jarry did what we all would like to do:
set things straight." And he wrote that 40 years later, when we could see
how provocative Jarry had been in trying to set things straight, wanting to cook
150 oxen and sheep. He wanted to set things straight with the powers that be
and he did it. "So, Gentlemen, now we want to try the veal."

And, before the musicians come and play, Jarry about Jarry: "He is neither
Monsieur Tiers nor bourgeois nor uncouth brat, rather the complete anarchist
but with that something which prevents us from becoming complete anarchists.
He is human, therefore cowardice, filth, hatefulness, etc."

Of the three souls which Plato differentiates: head, heart and belly, the
last is in his case not embryonic. And finally, I don¹t know what the name
Ubu means: perhaps an abstraction from some prototype which turned up by
chance but never got mentioned.

Expect, maybe a vulture, but that´s only one side of his role. If he has
animal features, first of all he has a pig´s face, a nose like a crocodile´s
upper jaw and his cardboard cloak turns him into a brother of the
aesthetically most disgusting sea creature, the limulus moluccanus, the
King Crab.
Yes, we can´t wait to hear what the musicians will make of it.

Urs Jaeggi, September 8, 2003
English version: Melvyn Poore

Poem for King Übu Örchestrü

wisteria fronds of
Jarry-ed pronouncements
woven through
the sonic maze


sudden suspension
a delicate glass sphere...
Who would pierce
the swollen membrane?

Anne LeBaron, May 26, 2004

…It has always been in my dreams that Ubu on many levels is within the King Übü Örchestrü, the magical play of simultaneous levels of communication that allows such a sizeable group to work and integrate so well .... with unbelievable intensity married to humour and profound worldly issues and commitment ..... here it comes to bloom with the original source.

Philipp Wachsmann

I remember the concert as one of the most concentrated I´ve ever known, considering the number of musicians involved.

Phil Minton

The performance was magical. Wolfgang Fuchs was a brilliant casting director (what a great Ensemble!) and a remarkable music director who got everyone on the same page with a rare minimum of talk. This virtuoso group were also virtuoso listeners and that´s clearly the secret! It was an unforgettable night pure & simple.

Bertram Turetzky

In my teens I read a lot of literature, including Ubu Roi. I thought it was stupid. Then I started to notice what real politicians were doing in the real world around me. I thought they were stupid too. And very dangerous for us all. More than three decades later, things haven't changed much, except that I no longer think Jarry's play is stupid.

Melvyn Poore

Open letter to Helma Schleif

I´m very happy and even proud to be one of the co-producers of the fourth release of the King Übü Örchestrü, and to have been invited by you to add a few bars to this beautiful and very interesting booklet.
I´m also a little bit dissatisfied because so many industrial musical monsters made a lot of CD´s which sold by the dozen while the King Übü Örchestrü, one of the most creative units of this time, has only recorded four times in twenty years, which is one of the reasons why this wonderful pick-up group is only known to the happy few.
Most so-called music lovers only love background music and hate in a certain way real music. I´ve been a serious music lover for more than fifty years but it wasn´t always easy to travel from King Cole to King Oliver´s Creole Jazz Band and from King Oliver´s Jazz Band to the King Übü Örchestrü.
King Cole, who in the beginning was a very promising tickler of the ivories, but who faded away from Jazz and became one of the most popular crooners in history, was once one of my idols, while King Oliver´s Creole Jazz Band and the King Übü Örchestrü are both statements, each one in their own way.
Before I´d ever heard the name of the King Übü Örchestrü, my close friend Fred Van Hove sent me a copy of ´Berliner Begegnung´ (SAJ LP 47) with Wolfgang Fuchs on sopranino sax, clarinet and bass-clarinet, Peter Hollinger on drums and percussion, and Fred Van Hove, of course, on piano.
Fred Van Hove´s new baby was a bit of a disappointment for me, especially for the presence of Wolfgang Fuchs, and I didn´t get any kick from his work on clarinet and bass-clarinet and found his sound on sopranino sax just terrible.
When I told Fred Van Hove about my problems with the new release, he didn´t get angry, but started to smile and replied: "I really understand you, you have expected more familiar material, but we try out some new things. Just stay on it and one day you´ll discover a new world."
I followed Fred Van Hove´s advice, and his ugly baby became, step by step, a beautiful prince, and a little bit later I asked FMP in Berlin to send me every available Wolfgang Fuchs record including the first and only LP the King Übü Örchestrü ever recorded, the Uhlklang release ´Music is music is´ (uk 6).
Through the years I became more and more interested in the Art of Improvised Music but without losing any affection for the heritage of more conventional jazz artists like Billie Holiday and Lester Young who were great storytellers and mostly told stories about the facts of life, whereas Wolfgang Fuchs never picks up his horns to praise the Lord or to tell some kind of story, but his pure Free Improvisations are what I call Adventures in Sound.
It´s easier to play changes than to improvise freely anyway, yet free improvisation with a large group without any arrangements, as practised by the King Übü Örchestrü, is almost a mission impossible. It was Wolfgang Fuchs with the help of some friends who made this mission possible way back in 1983, and the first and only LP by the King Übü Örchestrü that I mentioned above is without any doubt a collector´s item of great historical value.
The present CD, recorded during the 2003 Total Music Meeting on the occasion of the KÜÖ´s 20th anniversary, doesn´t offer a simple reunion of the King Übü Örchestrü along the lines of reunions of conventional jazz groups such as the Benny Goodman Combo´s and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Instead, this ensemble provides ample space for the human voice. The King Übü Örchestrü has opened yet another door for further explorations.
I don´t think there´s any need to tell the story of each member of the KÜÖ. Some are new faces while others are set to become living legends, and I think you know their stories better than I do, but please do tell all these wonderful improvisers that in my opinion this CD is the cream of the crop.

John Rottiers, presenter of Radio Centraal, Antwerp, July 6th, 2004

The Magic of the Moment - The Magic of Silence
On the Music of the King Übü Örchestrü at the Total Music Meeting 2003

Free improvisation always implies that you should be open and willing to let yourself in for adventure and risk - this goes for the musicians and the audience. The performance of a soloist is already fraught with risk and can be compared to a tightrope act which, even for a master musician, may end in a painful fall. Yet it is one intellect only that is responsible for what is being created. Consider then the complexity of two, three, four or even five musicians facing the risk of creating a web of freely improvised music by interacting without previous premeditation, musicians daring enough to devise, compose and to create music in and out of the moment! There is no place to hide for anyone, each individual is responsible both for his personal contribution and for the common good. Sounds like a high-falutin democratic utopia? Well, not if you are familiar with this kind of music, not if you have witnessed what an invigorating and deeply satisfying experience it is when great musicians miraculously succeed again and again in making said utopia come true.
The King Übü Örchestrü, in previous line-ups comprising nine or ten musicians, was initiated by Wolfgang Fuchs in 1983. For economic reasons, gigs have been few and far between over more than 20 years, and before the edition on hand there have been a mere three KÜÖ recordings available (the 1985 music is music is…, uk 6/Vinyl, the 1992 Binaurality on FMP CD 49, and Trigger Zone of 1998 on FMP CD 117).
Hence, for various reasons, expectations were high on the evening of November 8, 2003. For one, each and every one of the rare performances by the KÜÖ is as precious as a diamond; in addition, the performance was set to be the final concert of the superb Total Music Meeting 2003 - superb despite its shameful financial negligence on the part of the Berlin cultural authorities - and it was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the orchestra. Moreover, on this occasion a new, challenging element had been added to the instrumental ensemble in the form of three voices - voices that could hardly be more disparate: the classically trained soprano of Irena Bart-Greiner; the truly unique British improvising voice and sound virtuoso, Phil Minton; and, last but not least, the young actor Boris Aljinovic, remarkably and quite obviously open for this complex music. All three would present, in their own special ways, passages and fragments from Jarry´s black, caustic and disturbingly contemporary comedy. What a challenge for both musicians and audience! We were ready to embark on the trip…
Following Urs Jaeggi´s introduction (just as freely improvised as the music - he had only learnt a few hours earlier that he was supposed to stand in for Alban Nikolai Herbst, who was unable to attend), the musicians take their places on the stage of Berlin´s ´Podewil´ - with nary a music stand in sight. In the absence of sheet music, there is no use for any. Nor is there a ´conductor´ to guide the orchestra, to shape the improvisation by means of elaborate gestures, hand signs and eye contact, along the lines of Butch Morris´ well-known ´conductions´. No, throughout this particular adventure, everyone would be their own master, would have to rely on their very own mettle, intuition and reactivity.
Out of the softest vocal and instrumental fragments, an arch of breathtaking tension develops. The tiniest sound, articulated on the lowest dynamic level and ´judiciously´ placed by one, takes on the significance of a major inspiration for the others. The few dynamic intensifications and peaks are all the more powerful, earth-shaking and shattering for their turn-on-a-dime surge and retreat. One is inevitably reminded of a term originating in the visual arts and applied by the ground-breaking British improviser John Stevens with regard to the music of his Spontaneous Music Ensemble: that of peripheral vision, in which the tiniest and seemingly unimportant details all of a sudden, out of action and split-second reaction, take on a disproportionate and unforeseen significance.

And so, in the course of the evening, 45 minutes of literally unheard-of music unfold, contemporary music which gives back its original meaning to a hackneyed term, music in the course of which, after 32 minutes, something truly unbelievable occurs, something which I count among the great and unforgettable moments of my life: After Boris Aljinovic has literally and vocally ´dropped anchor´, there is silence. Knowing what it is like to experience a few seconds of silence in the midst of a large crowd of people, you will understand how utterly stunning one hundred and twenty seconds of silence can be, of breathless silence in a full concert hall, silence that constitutes an integral part of this particular improvisation.

One may deplore the fact that after those two minutes of tension-filled silence there is applause - tentative at first, then bursting out with enthusiasm. However, an audience prepared to brave the enormously satisfying but wild rapids and demanding challenges of improvised music does not merely rest in passive consumption, it interacts with the musicians in manifold and even mysterious ways. Here, for a few seconds only, the enormous tension accrued simply needed an outlet. The magic spell was never broken - on the contrary. This was an opportunity, perhaps unconsciously sought, for mustering up new strength for the brilliant continuation and completion of this amazing improvisation. I assume that one must personally experience such astounding moments, with all their imponderabilia, in order to be able to believe and to imagine that something like this can truly happen.
Despite the never-ending argument whether it makes sense or not to record and thus preserve improvised music, this new CD of the King Übü Örchestrü is cause for celebration. Naturally, the recording cannot completely reproduce the unique intensity of the actual experience. The visual element is lacking, and the magic of the moment, the magic of silence can neither be captured nor conveyed in full, not even by the most sophisticated technology. Yet the present edition is simply and most definitely a remarkable musical triumph, an artistic revelation that has the power to give one´s life a positive turn.

Werner Merz (English version by the author)

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