Historie of TTT
The 60s saw the beginning of a music revolution. The message was all electric guitars, amplifiers and sound systems. New sounds, new ways of playing just about every sort of instrument. Together with the improvements in microphones, mixing decks and PAs popular music surged forward. Almost overnight, stages around the world were hammering out rock music, with spectacular accompanying shows. The rock era had begun.
And we were old enough to take part and free. Do what we wanted, which we did.
Like many, we were always on the lookout for more kicks. Time passed quickly and in the end rock and roll became the standard we did.
We tried everything from rocking the classics to free improvisation, or even setting Brecht poetry to rock music.
As a young artist, Penck also wanted to play music and was really into the new music scene. With a classical training, he was able to teach himself piano and had a highly developed feeling for music.
Like his painting, he translated and documented structures and events as totally abstracted forms when he played music. When improvising on the drums, flute or piano he was able to step completely outside the concrete world around him.
That really impressed me, especially as I hated those rigidly copied solos played by our East German guitarists at the time.
The only time it was possible to show any individuality in a cover band was by playing a badly copied riffs, stolen from other guitarists.
That made Penck and I friends. Two strong characters with their own determination, wanting to change everything commercial and boring around them. Through his musical style I quickly discovered new dimensions of guitar playing. That was the basis of our first LP.
„ Afrika Paranoia „ the Winkler-Wollny Group’s first wild abstraction.
We just started playing while trying to communicate as we played, which more or less worked. It didn’t really matter anyway, because it produced the inner peace and serenity we were seeking. The enthusiastic discussions we had before and after a session served to strengthen our determination to really push on with this way of playing and producing music.
But it was in London, in our studio in Fawe Street, where we first found the necessary calm and space to really turn our ideas into reality.
But while we were initially satisfied the result, we still felt that the whole thing was still somehow too “German”. So we started studying musicians from a wide range of musical backgrounds, incorporating their ideas into what we were doing.
The successful studio recording in Bad Homburg, marked the parting of ways for us and conventional rock and roll.
Local musicians like Lois T. Moholo were among the first to accompany us in this new and completely free musical space. The first public concert we held was in the Royal Academy, as part of an exhibition of German 20th century painting. We played and the room cleared.
Royal Academy London
Our next port of call in the search was New York.
Loft in NY
There we found what we were looking for. Butch Morris, a serious director of free music and an amazing cornet player. Frank Wright, the saxophone player that most people were afraid of playing with. Frank Lowe, whose music contained exactly the abstract elements we were looking for. Dennis King Charles, whose drum playing was akin to singing. Billy Bang Walker, who could wrench hearts with his violin. Jeanne Lee, who took us in his arms like a mother and cared for us. And, of course, Clarence C. Sharpe who one day appeared from somewhere out of the Underground, patched up his alto with rubber rings and blew us away with his unmistakable, brilliant playing.
Penck and Clarence C. Sharpe in the Studio, NY F.Wrigth
They were wild years, with wild people and wild music. In 1988, we managed to talk Frank Wright into coming to Europe. He lived in Rotterdam and played with everyone at Willem van Empel’s Thelonius Club. Willem was a big fan of Frank Wright. As was a then young drummer from Holland by the name of Coen Alberts. Every time we had a gig, I collected Frank Wright and took him back home again.
Butch directing the TTT big band at the ICA in London
In the ensuing years there were many highlights with Coen, Peter Kowald and Lois T. Moholo.
One of the best was a concert in Finland during the Jazz Festival at Pori. The sun never set and we neither, 3 days solid booze and jamming.
I think it was at a gig in the Alter Wartesaal in Cologne that I realized that the Penck-Wright-Wollny formation had reached its goal. We were playing together, yet everyone for himself. Three birds in the woods singing together. With discipline, abstractedly and with enormous energy.
Somehow we had got where we wanted to be.
Frank Wrigth had a girlfreind in Cologne. So he travelled to Cologne regularly at around 9.00 p.m. to meet her and drove back the same night. As he was stopped nearly every time on the return journey by the police, probably because of his cowboy hat, he started staying overnight. Then, on 17th May 1990, we got the tragic news that Frank Wright was dead.
This was a terrible loss for us, because while we were together he had flourished and greatly enjoyed the security he felt in our midst. Frank Wright also got on very well with my mother, even though the language barrier made communication between them difficult. Both just spoke their own language and somehow they understood each other like a house on fire. He was the only one allowed to drink beer for breakfast because his blood pressure meant he couldn’t drink coffee. “Beer calms me…” was his excuse. And of course there was the real American breakfast, hush browns, egg easy over bacon and marmalade.
Session in the Haus Schönblick Gallery .............Break between sets
We organized an homage concert in memory of Frank Wright and invited all the musicians who had played with him. Bobby Few, Alan Silva and Sunny Murray came from France.
From the States came Edward Kidd Jordan, Jeanne Lee, Billy Bang and Butch Morris. Paul Lovens, Rüdiger Karl, Peter Kowald, Alex von Schlippenbach came from Germany. Noah Howart came from Belgium, Coen Alberts from Holland, and of course TTT was there.
Alan, Butch, Trudy, Jeanne and Gunter
C. Sharpe and Denis King Charles made off with the money we sent them for the flight and blew it all.
For a whole week, every possible formation got together to play jazz, films were shown, discussed, plans made, paintings painted. In other words, a complete success in every way, not least thanks to a generous donation of wine from wine grower Wilfried Matthis from Klingenmünster, with his delicious wine from the South German “Weinstrasse”.
Even Trudy Morse, who had accompanied Cecil Taylor for many years and supported him through the Morse Foundation, took an interest in the homage. She wrote texts during the long flight over which she subsequently recited in person.
In the years that followed, the homage turned into a regular event in the painting and music scene.
But the question facting TTT was how to continue. Frank Wright was irreplacable. We decided to change the concept completely and offered the vacant position to Alan Silva, who had already been living in Germany for some time and liked Heimbach. Apart from that he had moved from bass to keyboards, and his sounds created a new creative template. This combination was strengthened by Kidd Jordan and Gunther Hampel, resulting in some very exciting concerts. The crowning achievement of the period was a performance in New York.„ Kitchen“ with Bill Dixon and Rashid Ali. We lived at Edvins Strautmanis’ loft, who was still able to enjoy this concert. Sadly, he died just three months later.
Big TTT stage set by Edvins Strautmanis with tickets by Martina Jess
The Dusseldorf Jazz Rally and homage to Frank Wright were the main events of the year.
But it was a time of change. Ralf to Ireland with Petra and after an unsuccessful exhibition in Klagenfurt decided to give up.
But it only took a short discussion and Markus Lüpertz was ready to take over immediately as our pianist. The backbones of the TTT concept were back in place.