The blueprint for the quintet was to re-integrate lessons learned in free playing into melodically-intense small group jazz. Manfred Schoof “The 1970s, when these recordings were made, gave many musicians the opportunity to expand a scale of musical expression that originated from the free jazz of the 1960s. This led to a new kind of playing that did not hesitate to use and combine different means of expression – a process exemplified by the present recordings. The music on these CDs is contemporary and free in the best sense of these words; more so, it is timeless. Here the term “free” not only stands for a specific style of jazz that, in its beginnings, opposed with revolutionary gesture everything redolent of the past and reminiscent of tradition but rather the freedom to choose between a multitude of very different means of expression. Tradition, therefore, is viewed as a past experience that merges with and enriches a new style of sound.”
Schoof showcased some exceptional talent in his band. Michel Pilz was, in the era, the only European improviser who had committed himself exclusively to the bass clarinet. Inspired initially by Eric Dolphy, he developed his own distinctive sound, playing inside the ensemble textures as well as soloing with energy and imagination. Günter Lenz and Ralf R. Hübner helped to define the direction of modern jazz in Germany. Both bassist and drummer were members of Albert Mangelsdorff’s pioneering groups of the 1960s and their detailed interaction is crucial to the buoyancy of the Schoof quintet sound. Lenz can also be heard on ECM with the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Hübner with Eberhard Weber on “The Colours of Chloe” and “Chorus”. Together, for decades, they powered the rhythm section of the Jazzensemble des Hessischen Rundfunks – see the ECM album “Atmospheric Conditions Permitting”.
The pianists in the Schoof group were players of the next generation. Dutch keyboardist Jasper van’t Hof came to Schoof after playing with Pierre Courbois’s Association PC and the collective Pork Pie, which also included Charlie Mariano and Philip Catherine, in a time when rock and jazz were influencing each other.