Tom Prehns Kvartet - Tom Prehns Kvartet (1967), 8/10

A landmark release in the free jazz and improvisation era, and a remarkably unique album. This quartet hailing from Denmark provides an array of unusual arrangements and sounds even for the genre and the era in general. The opener's chaotic, manic tension is reminiscent of Peter Br√∂tzmann's early work, while a track like "Xenia" may remind you of modern creative's semi-structured improvisation. Prehn’s quartet creates some truly forward thinking and marvelously boundary pushing jazz. While the electricity or brutality of some tracks grab you right away, some of these moments lean toward the intellectual, but they continually provide a long lasting, layered listening experience never lacking in passion. If nothing else, this record is full of surprises even for deeply versed fans of free jazz. Prehn’s performances on piano are exceptional and his virtuosity is apparent right away, as is his passion and devotion to crafting challenging yet supremely rewarding improvisational performances. At times he sounds crazed or even frenetic, playing against an equally frantic rhythm section or the haunted horn section. Departures from the raw fury take shape in the form of anxious tension, a strongpoint of Prehn’s piano playing, especially when juxtaposed against the spirited free jazz that is captured in other surrounding phrases. One of the most fiery and rapturous recordings of European free jazz, all from a lesser-known quartet.