The Secret Act of Painting


Lucky Pieces
Norbert Steins "Pata" Culture

colored thumbprintThere is the PATA TRIO, the PATA MASTERS, the PATA HORNS and the PATA ORCHESTER. And there´s hardly an expert of music who does not associate the names with "pata pata", South African Miriam Makeba´s first world music hit. That was in 1960 when the expression "world music" did not yet exist. But the PATA groups are hardly African, it is but Norbert Stein behind them. The Cologne saxophon player and composer, a long time member of the "Saxophone Mafia" there, discovered the turn of the century French philosopher Alfred Jarry, who call one of his figures "pata physician".The translator describes "pata physics" as "a sience combining irreal logic with a new reality beyond the limits of the appearing world, removed from usual causal thinking"

With music this has always been the case. That is why Stein was impressed by it, and that is why there is no need to analyse details of possible relations between philosophy and the Stein product. Stein is simply a musician with open ears seeing chances which can combine to an unpredictable and artificially more impressing concoction than other composers., who during the last ten years were - according to the zeitgeist - not interested in drawing a sharp outline of an individual style.

The music of the nine-headed ensemble is influenced by modern classics with stylized bolero rhythms and rich Mahler harmonies. From the depth of atmospheric sceneries bubbles free jazz. Consoling electronic violins are only touched on the surface. Machine rhythms contrast with the expressiveness of devoted solists. Dark moods are dissolved in steps of grey and black which is no contradiction to a confession of a pure idyll a few pieces further on. Albert Ayler´s aggressive song motifs are transposed to the magic realm of European sound delicacies. Minimalistic Central African entanglements are elaborately recreated. Folk songs like "Königskinder" and "Es geht eine dunkle Wolk herein" change to melancholic chorals.

Norbert Stein´s ensemble is top-class: hardly a member who didn´t lead his own band, who didn´t produce his own CD. Reiner Winterschladen´s husky expressive trumpet and Michael Heupel´s refine flute play produce best solos, and with this they give it a recognizable individual element. Norbert Stein, whose earlier quick productions were at times quite mediocre, created with this debut on his newly founded label a masterpiece of playful imagination and mature soundings.


the Pata Orchestra

colored thumbprintRecommended record: Norbert Stein´s Pata Orchestra with "The Secret Act Of Painting"

Pata physics - that´s a bit tricky. The discipline of thinking which names itself "the science of imaginary solutions" strictly refuses to distinguish between severity and un-severity. With this it puts itself into the centre of the discussion of things, and at the same time beyond.

The inventor of this trick of thinking is the French writer Alfred Jarry, who in the beginning of the 20th century created with his protagonist Doktor Faustroll the master of this discipline. Following that idea, the Cologne saxophone player and composer Norbert Stein named his different formations "Pata Orchester" or "Pata Horns". As pata physics is programmatically only interested in exceptions but not in rules be assured that any kind of conventional thinking is replaced by unorthodoxical enthusiasm for experiments.

On his new album "The Secret Act of Painting" Norbert Stein practices "pataphysically" the unorthodoxical, to think the totally different and transform it into sounds. This means to step out of the own background. For the Pata Orchester this background is jazz. Only in tiny traces we find hints to Afro-American tradition - they step back in favor of a funny,. ironic bow to other tracks of history. Dadaism was a one force behind it, too. The avant-garde of the classical music has been raided, and Marcel Duchamp´s conceptional art shines as from far in some of the sound paintings. Alfred Jarry wrote that pata physics deals with the pure imaginative deductions, accordingly pata music offers exceedingly real solutions to questions not yet asked.

Two things are missing on the CD: first, the teutonic seriousness half open doors are usually battered down with - secondly, an ideologically overloaded definiteness. The eighteen pieces keep hovering between irony and seriosness. Imagination is out of bounds prefering a slow change of moods instead of being superficial. Even in abstract passages the music still retains its playful character. African rhythms romp about next to echoes of an ironically broken tattoo, the cliche´character of blues is cunningly avoided, onomatopoeia à la Kurt Schwitters oppose to mourning tunes freed of all sentimentality.

"The Secret Act of Painting" is one of the rare and independant German jazz productions. Norbert Stein is one of the few musicians who with humor leaves conventions behind: above all things and stillwithin the centre. Every piece tells its own story, owes its original sound, its own instrumentation - from big band sounds to tense sparseness. Because of this great range the varied CD keeps its grip on the listener from the first to the last second entertaining in an illuminating way.

Norbert Stein´s Pata Orchester published " The Secret Act of Painting " as number 7 on Stein´s own label PATA MUSIC.

Harry Lachner / KULTURNOTIZEN S2 Kultur (SDR 2 / SWF 2)