Bertrand Denzler


Bertrand Denzler – tenor saxophone

Joel Grip – double bass

Sven-Åke Johansson – drums


This trio was founded in 2015 by Sven-Åke Johansson. The group has since played several times in Berlin and published one LP as well as a double CD with guest Alexander von Schlippenbach, both recorded live by Andrew Levine.


«Neuköllner Modelle contains a lot of new interpretation. Not just kölln but ‘neukölln’; describing the playing field as constructive, with insights from the expressive foundation of free jazz, with micro-interactions and reactions from the subconscious used as consciously radical principles of form which, varied over  long stretches, lead to expansion of the form! Models for sounding the depths of unbound rhythms, periodicities and harmonic methods. – modus operandi.» – Sven Åke Johansson



Denzler-Grip-Johansson + Schlippenbach «Neuköllner Modelle - Sektion 3-7» Umlaut 2xCD (2017)

Denzler-Grip-Johansson «Neuköllner Modelle - Sektion 1-2» Umlaut LP (2016)



Joel Grip

Sven-Åke Johansson




As with their debut, Sektion 3-7 is another great slab of acoustic improvisation, this time from four masters of improvisation. Von Schlippenbach is the perfect addition to the group’s unified blend, and of course it’s an absolute delight to try and catch the references and quotes he liberally weaves in throughout the album, most notably in the middle area of “Sektion 7.” I for one, can’t wait to hear the next 8+ sektions.

– Lee Rice Epstein, Free Jazz Blog


Denzler has been puffing his tenor around these parts for some years now, most recently on Le Ring with Gerbal and Dörner. I’ve got to admire his restrained work on this recording, mainly because I like the short repeated phrases he keeps giving out. At key moments, you’ll get stuck in a delicious music loop with these simple statements of his. I’m convinced it means more than it appears to, especially if you think of more forthright 1970s improvisers who felt as though nothing short of 45 minutes of continual invention would do, never allowing a single repeat of anything if possible. Here of course it’s the same but not the same, the repetitions changing as they advance along, always framed and reframed by the very elastic context of the rhythm section. Some of this is down to the superbly flexible bass work of Joel Grip, but a lot of it is down to veteran drumster Johansson, who delineates one of the most open-ended percussion frameworks that an improvising musician could hope for. He also does it doe a long time – the whole record is over 52 mins long. And it’s quite understated, like the whole record in fact; energy is implied, for sure, but there’s none of your explosive roaring free jazz squonking afoot here. The dead-on accuracy of Johansson’s beats is uncanny, if we can use the word accuracy when trying to describe such a free-form, nebulous, pattern of activity.

– Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector


Proof once again that the generation gap exists only when musicians want it to, is the newly constituted Neuköllner Modelle (NM) whose members were born in four different decades but comfortably combine for a two-CD set of top quality improvisation. Although all have spent much of their respective careers expanding sound boundaries, the five extended selections here pulsate with define rhythms. Think of NM as the Fantastic Four fighting to ensure that quick moving even swinging Jazz doesn’t have to be limited to, or be dominated by, re-creators.

– Ken Waxman, Jazzword


The music soars to lofty heights but is also contoured with restraint as the artists reinvent themselves on a continual basis. Here, the quartet improvises at a higher-level, but equalizes the heady inferences with an entertaining gait. Essentially, they merge numerous abstract musical realms into a cohesive line of attack.

– Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz


Drummer Sven-Åke Johansson has called its music "constructive free jazz," a fair way to describe the limber, obliquely melodic, pulse-driven sound he creates with bassist Joel Grip and saxophonist Bertrand Denzler. The group explores within a comforting form, especially Johansson—his drumming clenches and loosens in a contemporary take on the free jazz of the past.

– Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader


Denzler and company provide almost two and a half hours of great music here, a free exchange of thoughts and impulses. Denzler dwells on “All the Things You Are” in Sektion 4 and plays pure bop blues on the brief Sektion 5. Overall, it’s as exciting when the band gets to Sektion 7 as it was in Sektion 1, the two longest episodes at over half an hour each. In that final movement Denzler practices a kind of free jazz balladry that’s invested with romance as well as blues, a muted “standard” without a prior model. Along the way, von Schlippenbach momentarily adds a bit of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Salt Peanuts,” much as his own trio references the themes of Eric Dolphy on the recent Warsaw Concert (Intakt). These may be bad days for everything else, but they’re great days for free jazz.

– Stuart Broomer, Point Of Departure


Je pense qu'il s'agit ici de constater la perméabilité de certaines frontières esthétiques et d'admettre qu'au-delà de l'innovation, peut se profiler une forme de plénitude apaisée, comme au-delà du surréalisme, se dessinaient déjà les prémices de l'illusion hyperréaliste.

– Joël Pagier, Revue & Corrigée


Alles, ob miteinander oder separat, wird feinsinnig improvisiert, daraus wurde eine so unaufdringliche wie unwiderstehliche Musik auf dieses Stück Vinyl gebannt. Wäre das Leben ein Wunschkonzert, wünschte man sich noch viele weitere Sektionen dieser Modelle.

– Felix, Freistil


Pairing Denzler, a musician with an astute approach to minimalist saxophone (check out Tenor (Potlatch, 2012)), with Grip, a collocating musician who ties many disparate European improvisational forms together, and Johansson, the Swiss army knife (although he is Swedish) of drummers, is a genius amalgam of musicians.

"Sektion 1" opens almost lazily with trudging bass and the rattle accents of Johansson warming up his snare, bass drum, and cymbals. Denzler puts lips to horn, honoring the footslog. Where another trio might have pushed and pulled each other to force, maybe squeeze, a performance out, these three never seem to play the provocation card. They build intensity as a unit, constructing both pieces here as if they were nurturing the music as an ecosystem. Highly recommended music.

– Mark Corroto, All About Jazz


Une superbe série d’improvisations free jazz par un vrai quartette cohérent réunissant le saxophoniste suisse Bertrand Denzler, le contrebassiste suédois Joel Grip, et deux briscards, les vieux complices Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano) et Sven-Ake Johansson (batterie) particulièrement en verve : une musique de grande densité et qui swingue – eh oui !

– Jean Buzelin, Culturejazz