"Live in Australia"


patali di rapata
cromda cromda ripalo
pata pata
ko ko ko

from „Das Lied der Elefanten“ by Prof. Alfred Tautz, Pata-physicist
(the song is so old that not even Cornelius can explain the lyrics)

In this corner of the globe, Wangaratta is as unheard-of as Pata. Wangaratta, however, is a concrete entity - a small town in south-eastern Australia, which contains some of the best vineyards in the country. The name Wangaratta actually hails from the aborigines and literally means "the cormorants' soujourn". In 1852 gold was discovered there. In 1873 Ovens Crossing (as Wangaratta was then called) joined Melbourne's railway network. An aluminium plant was set up in 1942 and by 1959 the village achieved town status with 15,000 inhabitants. 1970 saw the construction of the Yakka Overall plant, a textile factory, and 1990 was the first year of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz.

landscape of AustraliaSince then, even the more conservative elements of the town's administration have come to appreciate, in an almost European way, that culture represents a major location factor. 30,000 people make their way to the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz each year and this is an upward trend, which warms the hearts of the town's promoters. For like Moers, Pori, and Clusone, Wangaratta would remain uncelebrated if it wasn't for the jazz festival.

November 2001 was springtime in Australia and over 50 bands came to the 4-day festival - their venues ranging from the Town Hall and local churches to tents and even just the streets. These bands catered for a huge musical spectrum ranging from Dixieland Brunch and Corey Harris, the American Blues shouter, through to reconstructions of Coltrane's Meditations by the wild boys of the Bucketrider Big Band from Melbourne. This made for an adventurous mix which few concert organizers in Germany would ever dare to put on for fear of frightening away their audiencesOn this occasion, it was exciting to see how the Pata Masters would be received.

The first concert was held in St. Patrick’s Hall, a busy school church/assembly hall. It was two o'clock in the afternoon, outside scorching heat, inside, tensely expectant musicians and a quietly curious audience. Patas mean as much to the Australians as Wangaratta does to us. Such impartiality and the absence of any expectations provide an excellent barometer for gauging the direct impact of Pata music.Slit drums and sub-contra bass flutes quickly become as natural to an audience as to the musicians who play them. Pata music's rhythmic flow has a magnetic quality which takes sole command of the stage and auditorium.

This concert was a resounding success, to which the CD gives testimony. Pata was one of the undisputed high points of the festival. And, what no recording can document, the audience was glued to its seats. The new devotees of Pata music were even spotted again at the next two concerts in the Town Hall. Once again, we see that music is at its most powerful when it really has something to say.

Peter Schulze, Radio Bremen

Press commentaries in Australia:

Australien traffic sign... Okay. This festival far exceeded my expectations. Curtis Lundy and Odean Pope (who has been here before) were not international guests who excited anticipation in the way, for instance, Arthur Blythe, Mark Helias or Sam Rivers had. But there was an international dark horse in the German band Pata Masters, and they gave delightful, clear, fresh, inventive and buoyant recitals in which composition and improvisation, acoustic and electronic sounds, were unusually well integrated. The instruments included flutes ranging down to the giant sub-contrabass!, slitted wooden bass drums and gongs, tenor saxophone, drum kit and electronics - all as good to look at as they were to hear... (By John Clare / Jazzchord)

landscape black and white... Perhaps their monumental music tradition frees Germans from the wretchedness of conformity. The Pata Masters´eccentric instrumentation blew their music into pleasantly uncharted waters. Their pieces brimmed with surprises ... (By John Shand / The Sydney Morning Herald)

... Norbert Stein´s Pata Masters work to generate a true ensemble feel, where individual ideas are expressed in shared context that creates an unfamiliar but enchanting sound world. The stage set-up of this unique German ensemble resembles an ethnic art installation. Michael Heupel´s seven-foot sub-contrabass flute mounted alongside Matthias von Welck´s bass slit drum and custom-made klang-stub.
But once your eyes grow accustomed to these sights, your ears begin to appreciate the unfailing musicality involved in making such instruments function as a single, enmeshed unit. Often, von Welck and drummer Klaus Mages would conjure up a hypnotic, bubbling groove, while Norbert Stein (on tenor saxophone) would articulate an intricate theme with Heupel on bass flute. At other times, Stein´s tenor would blow furious sweeps of angular sound across a throbbing, percussive landscape.

Jessica Nicholas / The Age


Pata Masters - Live In Australia
Norbert Stein | Pata Music

A resident of Cologne, Germany - saxophonist/bandleader Norbert Stein’s microcosmic view of nineteenth century scientist, Dr. Faustroll’s “Pata” physics intimates a metaphorical musical translation. Whereas the crux of the matter pertains to the band’s singular characteristics!

excerpt of landscapeWhile Stein serves as the composer and tenor saxophonist, the band is a multitasking machine, as the soloists toggle between drums, percussion, EFX, mallets, flutes and so on. They engage in a blitzing frenzy, marked by pulsating rhythms during the opener, “Parliament of Music.” With this piece and elsewhere, the musicians commingle electronic treatments such as simulated birdcalls and subliminal textures with Bop, free jazz, and micro-motifs.

Nonetheless, part of the group’s calling card can be directly attributed to Stein and flutist Michael Heupet’s tightly organized and multipart unison choruses. As they embed quaint melodies within fleeting statements and cleverly articulated lyrical inventions. On “Wildes Denken,” Christoph Hillman produces electronic sounds that could be akin to hearing cartoon character banter atop ebulliently exercised world beat rhythms.

excerpt of landscapeYet, on many of these works Stein and Heupel engage in soaring dialogue while the percussionists infuse throbbing rhythms and otherworldly environs into the grand scheme of things. Hence, an indicator that surfaces on “Atonal Citizen II” – where the rhythm section executes an Afro-Cuban groove in support of Stein and Heupel’s slightly dissonant statements. Other highlights include the band’s enactment of what could be a Tibetan ritual on “Chat Imaginair,” coupled with the soloists’ cat and mouse type exchanges.

excerpt of landscapeHopefully Stein’s music will catch on here in the States! Especially when there appears to be a modest level of disparity in this genre as many artists are solely content with expanding upon previously proven formulas. Naturally, we’re not suggesting that the jazz scene is stale or witnessing a state of inertia. However, Stein’s “Pata” aggregation employs a paradigm that is distinguishable and irrefutably unique. (As of this writing there is no USA distribution although the “Pata Masters” recordings can be obtained from: Pata Music)

by Glenn Astarita