Sketches and Ballads is only one 36-minute track, but there’s quite a lot packed into this “song.” And although most avant-garde fans out there consider Full Blast to be a Peter Brötzman-helmed project (I know I do), “Sketches and Ballads” was actually composed entirely by drummer Michael Wertmüller. Furthering the democratic process is the inclusion of “friends,” taking Full Blast from a trio to a one-off sextet.
This is a group that has always boasted a large sound for three people; after all, Brötzman’s nickname is “Superlungs.” But the addition of trumpeter Thomas Heberer, percussionist Dirk Rothbrust and restless multi-reedman Ken Vandermark just further galvanizes an already powerful band. And this is not some kind of Free Jazz-era Coleman behemot—this is a multi-movement composition flush with fluctuating tempo, dynamics and never ending tension. This is one of those albums that comes highly recommended, even though it’s clearly not for everyone.