Günter “Baby” Somer/Till Brönner – Baby’s Party (Intakt)

Eternally youthful Günter “Baby” Somer, 75, seems to enjoy himself every time he plays. The German drummer is in a particularly buoyant mood for this delightful duet with trumpeter Till Brönner.

These two witty, upbeat improvisers sound quite comfortable together and the music flows —sometimes serous, sometimes humorous — like easy banter between old friends. On “Apéro con Brio,” they swap phrases in an album-opening dialog, then slip into a groove powered by Somer’s balafon (wooden xylophone). Brönner relaxes into the proceedings with a warm, gentle tone and snaking bop-influenced lines. “Flinke Besen” begins with melodic trap-kit drumming from Somer. The pair then play around with tempos, speeding up or slowing down in unison or playing at different tempos simultaneously. It’s fun, sly and celebratory.

Somer plays mouth harp throughout “Second Shot” and the boing-boing rhythms provide a humorous contrast to the nocturnal tension of Brönner’s brooding trumpet. It’s impossible to predict where these tunes will go. Brönner’s chamois-soft tone and delicate melodies can explode into hot eruptions and sonic abstraction. Somer’s nuanced drumming is capable of power and subtlety, sometimes within the same phrase, and he can play free rhythms or in tempo at will. It’s an entertaining party indeed.— Ed Hazell

The Authoritative Voice in Jazz