18. September 2018

Memories of Mauricio Kagel – 4

Today, September 18, 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of Mauricio Kagel’s death. We commemorate it with a concert at the Kölner Philharmonie.

My strongest memory of Mauricio Kagel is the recording sessions for PLAYBACK PLAY from 1997. Each of us had a 3 hour recording session with Kagel alone in a very dry studio of WDR.

Kagel refused to give us music before the session and wanted each of us to sight read relatively simple melodies with three or four staves (instead of 5) which is actually really difficult! In one I used a mute which was really sharp, about a 1/4 tone, so I had pulled out my tuning slide for it to be in tune. A while later, after recording other passages open, I realised that I had forgotten to push my slide back in, meaning they were all too flat. I mentioned this to Kagel and he said, “Oh, that doesn’t matter, we have technical methods.”

We also had to play scales in different tempi. Kagel recorded the practice runs, the ones where we would make mistakes and stop. These are the ones he used on the CD!

At one point I had to listen to an incredibly bad South American village band
with earphones and try to imitate it. Each time I played Kagel would say
“That’s too good, try and play much worse.” After a while, he was finally satisfied. These were the takes he used on the CD for the big moment when the announcer says “Ladies and Gentlemen, Musikfabrik.” All of us were playing as badly as we possibly could. Fantastic!

Bruce Collings, trombone