SUMMER RE-UP #4: Everybody Loves Wolfgang Dauner

Originally posted 19 March 2007


Wolfgang Dauner
ECM : 1970

WD, piano, ring modulator, clavinet; Eberhard Weber, bass, cello, guitar; Fred Braceful, percussion, voice.

Wolfgang Dauner — not exactly a household name. So here are some fun facts about Mr. Dauner and his visionary 1970 electronic-jazz masterpiece Output.

#1: Hard to believe given its futuristic collision of aggressive electronic effects and heady jazz-rock instrumentation, but Output was one of the first releases of the fledgling ECM Records [1006].

#2: Manfred Eicher served as producer, although this clearly predates the refinement of his trademark production sound – that crystalline and sometimes airless quality that’s come to define the label. Perhaps, as some rumors allege, Eicher merely licensed this album from Dauner and added his credit after the fact. Or perhaps he played a key role in birthing in this forward-looking music. Anybody know for sure?

#3: Like many of the early 1000 series of ECM releases – many of the label’s most interesting recordings – Output is not readily available on CD.

#4: The album found little traction among jazz fans upon release. The electronic treatments were too strange, the compositions too off-kilter. There’s the pinched compression, the spacey melodica sounds in “Nothing to Declare” that seem lifted from a reggae song years down the road. Them there’s the Arabic tonalities in “Abraxas.” Not rock, not jazz, not even really fusion. The music was generally ignored.

#5: Dauner’s electronic-jazz combination even predates Dr. Patrick Gleeson‘s radical use of electronics on Herbie Hancock’s Sextant (1973). The work of both these visionary musicians was snubbed by most jazz cognoscenti.

#6: Dauner’s music was partially rediscovered and championed thanks to those outside the jazz community. The primary movers here were industrial pioneers Nurse With Wound. Dauner was included on the arcane but massively influential Nurse With Wound list, a grouping of sympatico artists that influenced the group’s early sound and approach. Many musicians on this list were virtually unknown at the time but their music has become quite influential. Only a few remain anonymous stars in that vast mysto-musical cosmology.

#7: Although the NWW list only includes artist names, Output is NWW mainstay Steve Stapleton‘s favorite Wolfgang Dauner album.

#8: Output is also a favorite of Jim O’Rourke‘s — varied solo artist, former Gatr Del Sol and Sonic Youth member, producer for Faust, Melt Banana, and Wilco, improviser with Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, and Red Krayola, experimental filmmaker, author of an incredibly informative essay about the Japanese New Wave cinema of the 1960s, et cetera.

#9: Though Abraxas, the Santana album, was released in September 1970, just as Output was being recorded, it is highly likely that Dauner was drawing on an entirely different tradition.

#10: Eberhard Weber: “I developed a kind of playing which only a handful of musicians accepted. I met an older German piano player named Wolfgang Dauner and he accepted my playing. We pretty quickly developed a German Bill Evans-style trio — similar to the one with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, without playing that well of course. [laughs] This was very different to what the other people who played in Germany were doing.”

#11: Since the early 1980s, Weber has regularly collaborated with British siren Kate Bush, playing on four of her last five studio albums (The Dreaming, 1982; Hounds of Love, 1985; The Sensual World, 1989; Aerial, 2005).

#12: Dauner later went on to stage multi-media theatrical events as part of his music.

#13: Is it just us, or does that cover art look exactly like it should be gracing the album of a New Wave band circa 1983?

#14: Dauner is not above a pun.

Discussion13 Comments Category Wolfgang Dauner Tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

13 Responses to SUMMER RE-UP #4: Everybody Loves Wolfgang Dauner

  1. You forgot to mention that Jim O’Rourke was also the music consultant for the blockbuster movie School of Rock.

  2. Great post. Dauner also contributes some great clavinet to Robin Kenyatta’s album Girl From Martinique (1970, ECM 1008). I love the early ECM recordings.

  3. This is awesome, does anyone know of any other albums that blend ‘out Jazz’ with electronics or noise? I’m working on some band projects in this area and would be grateful for more ideas to explore. I have come across Otomo Yoshihide New Jazz Orchestra and some George Russel recordings (alongside Sextant of course)…

  4. @Chris: Try anything with Richard Teitelbaum or Patrick Gleeson’s name on it. That’s probably one good path to take.

  5. Love this!
    Hey, is the link for Output broker? Thanks

  6. Chris — some other things to check out:
    Evan Parker’s Electroacoustic Ensemble (also on ECM, with a bunch of CDs);
    Spring Heel Jack’s Masses/Amassed/Live (especially Live, IMO — it rocks);
    David S Ware’s Corridors and Parallels;
    Anything (that I’ve heard) by the late Steve Harris and Zaum (their myspace and his homepage have sample tracks);
    George Lewis’s Homage to Charles Parker (this is already covered by ledrew’s Teitelbaum rec, but it’s one of the best jazz albums ever and you can buy it on mp3 for LESS THAN TWO DOLLARS);
    Dave Douglas’s Witness, Freak In, and Keystone;
    Miles Davis, Agharta and On the Corner;
    Wadada Leo Smith, Luminous Axis;
    Ellery Eskelin’s trio with Andrea Parkins and Jim Black;
    and, well, there’s lots to look into.

    There’s a very nice Dauner album with Charlie Mariano and Dino Saluzzi (on bandoneon); very much not out or electronic.

  7. @Chris
    Check out the new Peter Evans album ‘Ghosts’.

  8. Hey there, the “Output” link doesn’t work.

  9. Sorry about that “Output” link – it was streaming fine so we didn’t notice that there was an extra space in the coding that prevented downloading. It’s fixed now!

  10. The early ECM catalog was a really interesting mish-mosh of stuff, LOTS of which isn’t in the later stereotypical mode: not just this, but Derek Bailey, and Anthony Braxton, and Marion Brown; Keith Jarrett on e-piano and organ, (BEFORE the endless acoustic solo albums), Terje Rypdal playing what is sometimes closer to prog rock than to jazz, but with Barre Phillips on bass…

  11. I received an email from a “Jeff Golick” ( recommending some sort of diet product. I tried to forward it to you, but this just resulted in yahoo temporarily blocking me from sending emails.

    I suppose I could stand to lose a few pounds.

  12. Great stuff. I posted a 1976 play for children LP with Dauner, Weber, Mangelsdorff and others which is full of synthesizer experiments courtesy of Dauner.

  13. Of the oodles of long-lost things I’ve found trawling the net the past few years this is perhaps the best. Criminal that it’s OOP.

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