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TIM BERNE & The Schulldogs

Datum: So, 02.06.2002
Veranstalter: Verein Innenhofkultur
Ort: cik-Künstlerhaus Klagenfurt

The Schulldogs:

Tim Berne – tenor saxophone
Tony Malaby – tenor saxophone
George Schuller – drums, comp
John Hebert – bass

Bild: George Schuller

If there’s a terrain… that requires some serious trekking, then you should know about the Schulldogs. They have been tearin‘ up the New York improvisational scene for the past four years at such downtown haunts as the Knitting Factory, Cornelia St. Cafe, Internet Cafe and Tonic. Recent tours have brought them to Southwestern United States as well as appearances at the Ost-West Jazz Festival in Nuremberg, Germany and the Komeda Jazz Festival in both Slupsk and Gdansk, Poland. With a front line that boasts of Tim Berne (alto sax) and Tony Malaby (tenor sax) and a brother-driven rhythm section of Ed Schuller (bass) and George Schuller (drummer, leader), the Schulldogs have been described as „the best band you never heard…… a band that integrates bloodthirsty soloing and tight ensemble work within a bright and modernistic compositional approach. Schooled, knowing musicians, they’re all connoisseurs of that point where form implodes and then recoheres.“

From its inception, the Schulldogs performed, at first, as a loose-limbed trio — tenor duties were shared between the legendary George Garzone and Malaby, coupled with a revolving bass chair of brother Ed and Mark Helias. However, the quartet was born from a need to know basis — to pit Garzone with the younger Malaby side by side, and to christen the brotherhood backcourt with one common family name. It left no doubt that „tenor madness“ still reigns supreme amongst those diehard fans of saxdom’s tradition. On one momentous and crowd whoopin‘ occasion at the Internet Cafe, the Village Voice reviewer proclaimed that the performance that night was „one of the most walloping stretches of music I’ve witnessed all year.“

Following its critically-acclaimed debut —Tenor Tantrums —on the New World Recording label, the Schulldogs have turned yet another improvisational and sonic corner with the inclusion of one of downtown’s cherished offspring: alto saxophonist and Screwgun label owner Tim Berne. Recently, the quartet of Berne. Malaby, and the Schuller Bros. were captured live from a concert recorded in Albequerque, New Mexico. With hopes of a release in the coming months, this particular aggregation of forward-thinkin‘ sound conceptualists are bound to invade your neck of the woods.

What the critics have to say about Tenor Tantrums:

„Tenor Tantrums is a riveting effort from a band who have been tearing it up, predominately on the East Coast. „The Schulldogs“ may be the best band you never heard, well ? here’s your chance! Here is a band who integrate bloodthirsty or ferocious soloing and tight ensemble work all within George Schuller’s bright and modernistic compositional approach. Tenor Tantrums covers a lot of ground yet the band convey a personalized style through at times dissimilar concepts, which can only assist with the unending or evolutionary process of jazz.“ * * * * 1/2
—Glenn Astarita (AllAboutJazz.com) Oct. 99
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„A three year project comes to fruition for drummer/composer George Schuller, and he brings bassist/brother Ed, and saxophonists Tony Malaby and George Garzone along for the ride. Of the seven of nine pieces the drummer wrote for this recording, many fall into a swinging free bop context allowing the tenor tantrums to exhaust themselves. Malaby and Garzone are quite expressive players, joining in lots of unison lines, occasionally going out, but mostly keeping within the written framework. At their most quick witted, the quartet jump starts a popping melody for „The Symptoms“ minus Garzone plus trumpeter Dave Ballou, while both tenors really dig in on the hard swinging, head noddin‘ „No Hazmats“ interrupted by a fine bass solo from Ed Schuller. The 12/8 groove with contrapuntally delayed melodies for „Slightly Round“ and the beautiful unison of Malaby’s soprano sax and Garzone’s tenor for „Boogie Two Shoes“ with an r & b ostinato bass line shows the drummer at his compositional best.

A bluesy thang „URWUP“ (i.e. U R What U Play) is more sneaky, the drummer on brushes with Malaby on soprano. „Nameless“ is at once mournful and reverent with bass and tenor tandem notes and free clarion calls. The title track is a snarly collective improvisation with hard swing inferences by the drummer, while Ornette Coleman’s „Free“ with Ballou and a time shifting 5 to 15 to 4 beats per measure „Loose Bloose“ by Bill Evans, Malaby again on soprano, gives the arranger Schuller something to adapt and make his own.

Some exceptional music here for those open minded to various combinations of jazz tradition and new music innovation. There’s some chaotic baby screaming here, but the tantrums, as mentioned, do step aside for some meaty on the table playing, everyone involved offering their fair share of excellence.“
— Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide (12/99)
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„Drummer George Schuller has made the definitive tenor saxophone CD of the last decade. Schuller’s compositions create an effective balance between form and freedom; his melodic sense is firmly rooted in the post-Ornette vocabulary, and his rhythmic conception is finely connected to the time/space continuum. As a drummer, Schuller propels, swings hard and has the rare ability to conjure form out of seeming chaos. Bassist and brother Ed Schuller has been a key figure on the improvised music scene for many years, known as a player that can groove, bow and solo with inventiveness. Trumpeter Dave Ballou appears on two tracks, filling out the ensemble with enormous tone and a sense of drama — his solos explore the gap between Freddie Hubbard and Don Cherry. In George Garzone and Tucson native Tony Malaby, Schuller has two of the most talented and uncompromising reedman around. Garzone has influenced multitudes of sax players over the last 25 years (including Malaby), and has finally emerged to his rightful place as a leading voice among jazz tenors.“
—Ed Friedland from Tuscon Weekly (1/00)
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„This is solid contemporary Jazz. The style is post-Ornette — in fact, like Masada and other contemporary groups the principal prototype would seem to be Don Cherry’s Complete Communion period. Schuller plays drums and writes effective lines that use harmony and counterpoint quite effectively. Sometimes bass lines underpin the solos, but whether there are preset harmonic reference points for the soloists is hard to hear (and irrelevant, after all). The writing reminds me of Mark helias, who organizes things particularly well in a comparable way. But good as the writing is, it’s the excellent soloing and group listening that make this record stand out. The tenors are George Garzone and Tony Malaby, Ed Schuller is on bass, and Dave Ballou’s trumpet is heard on two tracks. The two saxes are both fine and complimentary players, and Malaby even manages to sound interesting on soprano. I have to advise impenetrable annotator Mike Silverton that the 60’s sitcom F-Troop indian tribe that he keeps refering to was the Hekawis, not Fugawis (think about it).“
— Duck Baker from JazzTimes (3/00)
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„The apple rarely falls far from the tree. Witness drummer George Schuller and his bass-wielding brother Ed.  They’re scholar and composer Gunther Schuller’s offspring, and they display their father’s wonderment at the varieties of musical experience.   No doubt, this is a far jazzier CD than anything else.  But it’s unusually searching in its rhythms, where Ed manages pedal point, stop time, and untold odd effects to color the proceedings as long-heralded Boston-based sax wonder George Garzone and his reeds-mate Tony Malaby play it breathy and then riff hard and then careen to the outer realms.  Ornette Coleman’s ‚Free‘ opens the session, and from there the band thickens, favoring a rich middle where solos and melodies change faces quickly, integrating bop elements with soulful segues and punching energy. This is a potent recording, full with moments where the ears discover new things almost by the minute.“  —Andrew Bartlett (Amazon.com)
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What the critics have to say about The Schulldogs Live:

„You know the Village on Halloween: mucho blockage. So last Saturday night’s Schulldogs gig at the Internet was affected by a predictable goblin: delayed in his schlepp from Jersey City, Tony Malaby missed the opening blast by horn mate George Garzone. Yet, in an amazing feat of empathy, the tardy tenor player proved wavelengths are what you make them. His blistering free-bop salutation was a fierce complement to Garzone’s kickoff, adding queries and retorts to assure a bit of creative tension. It was as if he’d been listening outside the window, taking notes on possible perfect approaches.

„That level of accord was amplified during the rest of the set, one of the most walloping stretches of music I’ve witnessed all year. Instrumentation is subject to change in drummer George Schuller’s foursome. This edition of the S’dogs assured that tenor madness is a condition that still tickles jazz fans. It was one of those scenes where ringing phones and audience whoops enhanced the music’s inherent rambunctiousness. With formal tunes and arrangements banished, succinct free episodes were key to a chain of random moods dominated by blues motifs. Imagine a Jazz at the Philharmonic show in a post-Mingus environment.

„This approach suggests Schuller’s no chip off the old block; the attack of each participant–especially the leader nearly tattooing his ride cymbal at one point–all but decried the planning and polish of his father Gunther’s third-stream strategies. Rather, it made a case for the value of impromptu coordination. Garzone and Malaby sustained their individualism while blowtorching the place with polyphony. But even their counter lines framed them as kissin‘ cousins. As bassist Mark Helias bowed plush drones during the set’s outro, the pair chose separate but similar ways to float themselves home, more Wilbur and Orville than Romulus and Remus.“ — Jim Macnie, Village Voice, Nov. 98
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„Hooray for this little coffee bar, which quietly nurtures good jazz groups even when there’s little street traffic and no new record to help advertise the gig. Case in point: a newish band led by drummer George Schuller, with a terrifying saxophone tag-team of George Garzone and Tony Malaby, and the bassist Ed Schuller. Schooled, knowing musicians, they’re all connoisseurs of that point where form implodes and then recoheres.“ — Ben Ratliff, New York Times, Feb. 99

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