Abstract Window by Kasper Tom / Alexander von Schlippenbach / Rudi Mahall

2017 WhyPlayJazz (RS032), CD + MP3 Album Download

Kasper Tom / Alexander von Schlippenbach / Rudi Mahall »Abstract Window«

Track listing

  1. Portrait  2:06
  2. Change Is the Only Constant  11:51
  3. Abstract Window  4:18
  4. Beyoglu Blues  4:39
  5. Close-up  4:32
  6. Fragments  4:42
  7. First Impression  6:51
  8. Casus Belli  4:32
  9. Harpy  4:31
  10. Full Plate  7:34
  11. Heavy Accent  2:49


Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano), Rudi Mahall (clarinet, bass clarinet), Kasper Tom Christiansen (drums)

Production credits

All compositions by Kasper Tom, Alexander von Schlippenbach and Rudi Mahall. Recorded October 17, 2016 by by Christian Betz at Berlinaudio Berlin, Germany. Mixed and mastered by Christian Betz. Design and artwork by Michael Schultz. Photo by Ozge Balkan. With support from DJBFA, Koda's Cultural Funds, Dansk Musiker Forbund, Dansk Artist Forbund and Dansk Solistforbund.

This is the debut album of a trio of heavyweights – all three champions of improvised music in Europe. Three generations – Alexander von Schlippenbach, Rudi Mahall and Kasper Tom – are united under the motto "Change is the Only Constant".

This is the debut album of a trio heavyweights – all three champions of improvised music in Europe. Legendary pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach qualifies as one of the most important representatives of first-generation of European free jazz. His colleague, the exceptional bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall, is likewise an innovative improviser who, together with Schlippenbach, has set benchmarks with the Globe Unity Orchestra as well as with his Monk interpretations on record and in concerts. In recent years, the youngest of the three, Kasper Tom has accomplished the leap into the European Avant-garde scene. Tom’s play is inspired by the explorations and discoveries of contemporary music, while it still honors tradition, and his compositions have a remarkable feel for distinctive melodies.
There is a refreshing interaction between the three musicians – each one has an equal share in the album’s success. The borders between spontaneous improvisation and precise, focused compositions are deliberately blurred. The three know how to play around the melodies and dramatic elements, as their quick, provocative interplay
flirts with disruptive structures. New ideas are embraced with open arms; the shifting dynamics and deliberate risk-taking on the song "Change is the Only Constant" speaks from the heart.
Von Schlippenbach bursts forth with beautiful long arpeggios and harmonic chords, shaping the musical flow. Mahall takes over the role of storyteller, as he narrates a series of adventurous tales expressed in a barrage of dramatic notes. Kasper Tom envisions his role as something more than a repetitive timekeeper. Even so, he is able to fulfill his role as the band’s rhythmic foundation. His grounded approach transmutes rhythmic patterns into a multicultural adventure.
Brilliant interaction throughout the play, mutual respect and attentiveness. minimalism and elegance – these are the real spiritual qualities in this project. Improvised music can’t be better.


Extraordinary and strange timbres, original playing manner and masterful improvising by three famous and talented jazz masters – all these elements are connected together in the collective improvisations of this album.

All three are in mutually coherent dialog throughout, each responding on a three-way channel of independence-through-togetherness synchronicity. It is an exciting example of one sub realm of free improv jazz that continues to grow and evolve today.

As the CD title says, the open window here is suitably abstract. But atonality for its own sake is as missing here as nuance would have been in a 1930s Krupa drum extravaganza. [...] Historically this trio’s sound may not be as influential as Goodman’s was, but the performance here is of the same high quality.

Längst hat sich Alexander von Schlippenbach, der vor über einem halben Jahrhundert mit "Globe Unity" gross einschlug, vom klassischen Free Jazz verabschiedet und sich mit komponiertem Material beschäftigt, das er freien Diskursen zuführte. Der Pionier dieser Spezies überprüft seine Errungenschaften immer wieder in neuen Konstellationen.

Reiner Kobe, JAZZ’N’MORE 6-2017

Die Momente hat es, wenn Schlippenbach in eigendefinierter Weise mit verschleppter swing-Handhabung ohne Bläserpräsenz den Raum drapiert. Abstraktion ereignet sich allerdings nicht zum Selbstzweck, sondern erklingt als feine Menschenmusik mit der so nötigen Openmindedness.

Hannes Schweiger, Concerto 5/2107

Auf „Abstract Window“ treten alle Musiker als gleichberechtigte Gestalter in Erscheinung. Hören aufeinander, mal zurückhaltend, mal rauer. Und in alle Richtungen beweglich.

Tim Caspar Boehme, taz, Kunstraum

All the pieces have a playful sense of melody and drama and structure despite their constant flirts with quirky structures and fast and sharp interplay. The three musicians openly embrace new ideas, dynamics and risks, applying the philosophy that led to title one of the pieces "Change is the Only Constant".

The music is of course everything people familiar with these musicians in particular, and the European Improvised scene in general, might expect: brilliant musicianship, wonderful respect and attention towards each other, minimalism and elegance, all these of the highest calibre. Improvised Music does not get better than this.

Also available

Abstract Window
Kasper Tom / Alexander von Schlippenbach / Rudi Mahall
(2017, Vinyl LP)