Tom Prehn Quartet - Reissue LP
The story of the "Tom Prehn Kvartet" is a story about a group in opposition, not only to the music of their time but to their environment, their geography, the Color of their skin and much more. In many ways, the "Tom Prehn Kvartet" is a very unlikely jazz group, and the brilliant recording you are holding in your hand seems even more so. It all began with Tom Prehn at age five practicing Mozart at the Hornbæk Badehotel. Later, the quartet would be founded with roots in the classical conservatory in Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city. The classical music conservatory was where you learned to play by notes and follow instructions. To conserve, not to create. But Tom Prehn, Fritz Krogh, Poul Ehlers and Preben Vang would have none of that. Instead, they used their exceptional technical skills to Offset the Chaotic, abrupt and Spontaneous. Debuting in 1963 on a bill that also counted Dexter Gordon and Tete Montoliu, the Tom Prehn Quartet went on to record Axiom, a recording that according to Prehm Sounds almost like "a lawnmower of its own running loose in the zoo during rush hour." Developing their sound for four years and exchanging Finn Slumstrup with Preben Vang, the group recorded the Self-titled "Tom Prehn Kvartet". One of the most unique jazz records in Danish music history. Especially interesting is the fact that the group had its home in Aarhus. With the legendary Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen was a central city on the european jazz scene at the time. Presenting names such as Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor, the Copenhagen Scene was a progressive one. Aarhus, meanwhile, is barely a footnote in the history of free jazz. Maybe this is why the "Tom Prehn Kvartet" was able to create a sound that was so far away from anything else. The Quartet doesn't sound like an imitation of John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor or Ornette Coleman. It sounds like all three at once. It takes the explosive energy of Coltrane, mixes it with the abrupt avant-garde of Taylor and adds Coleman's lyrical Sense of melody. What makes this record even more unique is the role the piano plays as a lead instrument. Backed by exceptional rhythmic bursts from Vang and abrupt, yet natural bass lines from Ehlers, Prehn's frenetic piano weaves perfectly in an out of Krogh's dark, overblown tenor solos. "Tom Prehn Kvartet" Sounds very American, yet it is unmistakably Danish. A unique masterpiece, both then and now.
- F. E. Denning