Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe / Four Men Only - Complete Recordings


Musicians on the recording

Herbert Joos - flugelhorn, mellophone, piston, percussion
Wilfried Eichhorn - tenor & soprano saxophone, flute
Helmuth Zimmer - piano
Klaus Bühler - double bass
Rudi Theilmann - drums

Release date - 20th July, 2020

Recording track list



1. Trees 8:33
2. Schnee Verbrennt  3:01
3. Lonely Time 12:35
4. The Devil Is Green, Blue, Yellow  9:23
5. Change Of Beauty 11:13
6. Unreleased 1 14:07

Track 1-5

Recording date: May 10, 1968

Track 6

Recorded at a concert in Hannover, Funkhaus Hannover, Grosser Sendesaal on October 30, 1971 during the Jazztage '71

Tracks 1-5 originally released on a single LP “Trees” 


Herbert Joos - flugelhorn, mellophone, piston, percussion
Wilfried Eichhorn - tenor & soprano saxophone, flute
Helmuth Zimmer - piano
Klaus Bühler - double bass
Rudi Theilmann - drums





1. Position 2000 12:15
2. Where Love Forever Shines  4:55
3. The Sun Is Coming Over  18:45
4. Unreleased 2 6:15

Track 1-3

Recording date: April 24, 1970

Track 4

Recorded at a concert in Hannover, Funkhaus Hannover, Grosser Sendesaal on October 30, 1971 during the Jazztage '71

Tracks 1-3 originally released on a single LP “Position 2000” 


Herbert Joos - flugelhorn, mellophone, Indian flute, percussion
Wilfried Eichhorn - tenor & soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, percussion
Helmuth Zimmer - piano, percussion
Klaus Bühler - double bass, percussion
Rudi Theilmann - drums, percussion





1. Viridiana / Ich Und Meine Brüder / Compulsion   17:17
2. Count Down / Excess 16:59


3. Departure / Plastic Happines / Beautiful Darkness / Space Wall   18:10
4. Dead Season / The Beauty Without A Face / Lucifer Is Marching In / Return?   20:17


Track 1-2

Recording date: May 6, 1972

Originally released on a single LP “Volume One” 


Herbert Joos - flugelhorn, percussion
Wilfried Eichhorn - tenor & soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Helmuth Zimmer - piano, percussion
Rudi Theilmann - drums, percussion


Track 3-4

Recording date: December 26 - 29, 1973

Originally released on a single LP “Eight Scient Fiction Stories” 


Herbert Joos - flugelhorn, trumpet, mellophone, percussion
Wolfgang Czelusta - trombone
Wilfried Eichhorn - bass clarinet, flute, oboe
Helmuth Zimmer - piano
Rudi Theilmann - drums, percussion


NoBusiness Records NBCD 129-131
Release year - 2020
Edition of 500 copies

Credits and release info

Reviews and articles


Tom Hull - Genuinely Exciting. A-


Marcus J. Moore - Bandcamp

Jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player Herbert Joos was one of the most celebrated musicians in Lithuania’s avant-garde scene. From 1968 to 1973, he was a member of the Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe and Four Men Only, two free jazz bands with intense, heavy-hitting musicianship. Complete Recordings collects the full work of both units, presenting it in a massive three-hour box set. The music is stunning, all stampeding drums, squealing brass, and dark piano chords. Songs like “Lonely Time,” “The Devil Is Green, Blue, Yellow” and “The Sun Is Coming Over” sound especially gripping, each track shifting and changing form as the arrangements unfold. Then there’s “Position 2000,” the title track of the Karlsruhe quintet’s 1970 album. After the song rumbles for a bit, thanks to Rudi Theilmann’s hypnotic drum roll, the horn section arises with an almost regal tone. Then the remaining players chime in, locking into a turbulent groove teetering on the verge of collapse. Like much of the compilation, the scoring never falters: every song is a thrilling high-wire act with unforeseen twists and turns. All that to say this: Complete Recordings is incredible, and I can’t stop playing it.


Fabricio Vieira - Free Form / Free Jazz

O trompetista germânico Herbert Joos (1940-2019) é o nome de peso desta importante edição. Complete Recordings reúne, em quatro CDs, discos de duas bandas intrinsecamente ligadas ao nome de Joos nas décadas de 60 e 70: o Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe, que criou no fim dos anos 60 ao lado de Wilfried Eichhorn (sax, clarinete baixo), Helmuth Zimmer (piano), Klaus Bühler (baixo) e Rudi Theilmann (bateria); e o Four Men Only, um desdobramento do grupo após a saída de Bühler. Este lançamento reúne os dois discos do Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe, "Tress" (68) e "Position 2000" (70), e dois do Four Men Only, "Vol. I" (72) e "Eight Science Fiction Stories" (73). O trabalho de ambos os projetos está mais associado a uma seara free jazzística que propriamente ao free impro europeu que atingia seu ápice exatamente na época registrada nos discos. As peças, mesmo em suas linhas mais energy, são construídas, no geral, seguindo um rumo, uma rota na qual não são raros o desenvolvimento de temas, em um processo no qual elementos composicionais perceptíveis dividem espaço com improvisos por vezes bastante ariscos. A música, de um álbum a outro, tem uma forte conexão, o que faz com que a decisão de editá-la toda junta seja bastante acertada também do ponto de vista estético. Com exceção de Joos, um pouco mais conhecido (apesar de bem menos que outros de seus contemporâneos e conterrâneos), os outros músicos aqui presentes deixaram raros registros e dificilmente são lembrados afora esses trabalhos. A edição deste Complete Recordings, em limitadas 500 cópias, é uma excelente notícia para os fãs de free jazz, já que esses títulos estavam fora de catálogo há muito. Infelizmente só veio à luz agora, após a morte de Joos, ocorrida em dezembro passado. 


Stuart Broomer - New York City Jazz Record

 NoBusiness has been unusually creative in finding hidden facets of early free jazz. This three-CD set presents the Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe (MJQK) and its successive identities, Four Men Only and, when it became a quintet, Four Men Only + 1. It’s an unusual and largely lost episode in the music’s history.  The band launched as the Jazz Prophets in 1964 with pianist Helmuth Zimmer, trumpeter Herbert Joos and reedplayer Wilfried Eichhorn. In 1965 they added drummer Rudi Theilmann and bassist Klaus Bühler, becoming MJQK. The band released four LPs during their history: Trees (1968), Position 2000 (1970), then, as Four Men Only, Volume One (1972) and added + 1 for Eight Science Fiction Stories (1973). All that material is here, with two 1971 live tracks. By 1968, free jazz and improvised music ranged from American models (Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Giuffre, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Sun Ra) to the emerging Europeans: from AMM and Spontaneous Music Ensemble to Giorgio Gaslini, Alexander von Schlippenbach and Peter Brötzmann. MJQK sounds like none of these. With roots in hardbop, MJQK took another path. Trees includes Eichhorn’s brief “Schnee Verbrennt” and its tropical rain-forest vibe, with a piping flute central, tropical bird brass and random drum rolls, while Zimmer’s “Lonely Time” is marked by unaccompanied solos. With Joos’ “The Devil Is Green, Blue, Yellow” the band style begins to emerge. There are strings of composed motifs, short and long, fast and slow, a brassy fanfare, then a short dirge. It’s rooted in a kind of drama and the band is very good at it. A likely influence is the Blue Note school of liberated hardbop, when Freddie Hubbard in particular and many more were stretching the label’s idiom, but MJQK pushes that envelope further. “Change of Beauty” intersperses slow, reflective solos (bass and soprano) and rapid group improvisations in which the power and invention come to the fore, with Joos and Eichhorn (on soprano) cascading over the rhythm section’s tumult. The CD is filled out by a live performance at Funkhaus Hannover in 1971. With a string of lengthy solos, from bass to trumpet, again using some of the same internal tempo contrasts, it demonstrates a band that’s lively, interactive and able to realize a collective vision. The second CD, Position 2000, has Eichhorn adding a dramatic bass clarinet to his arsenal and the rest of the band all playing percussion at times, including xylophone. There’s an emphasis on power and drama, but it comes from the presence of flute and bass clarinet and later unison brass parts, as the band adds multi-tracking to its effects. Ernst Nebhuth notes in his liner essay that “this led to scathing reviews in the press about ‘leaving the trail of real/pure’ Jazz”, but he justifies it with the claim that this lets the band “produce their own backgrounds and horn sections”, though this often occurs when the other musicians are silent. The music’s identity changes dramatically. Joos, later a member of the Vienna Art Orchestra, stretches his trumpet range with other horns, flugelhorn and mellophone. One photo has him playing a piccolo trumpet. Orchestral color will trump collective expression. Only Side A of the first LP has music composed by anyone else. Often the band seems to prefer unaccompanied or lightly accompanied solos. Bühler, a creative bassist, departs and isn’t replaced. Overdubbing becomes the music’s most distinctive facet. Four Men Only’s first suite has a saxophone duet with only one saxophonist; a multi-tracked, largely composed brass “solo”; another background provided by multiple trumpets. Meanwhile, the record concludes with some brilliant percussive piano to end “Excess”. The group’s final LP, Eight Science Fiction Stories, adds trombonist Wolfgang Czelusta, apt support to Joos’ mellophone on the LP’s second suite. It’s the first, though, that demonstrates the sheer range and oddity of the band’s directions. Much of it is dominated by an overdubbed trumpet riff repeated for some six minutes under a Joos solo, which, together suggests a one-man Don Ellis Orchestra. At the limits of its split personality, the next segment has Eichhorn improvising himself into a modest but thoughtful facsimile of Sun Ra’s saxophone section.


Klappe Auf - Culture Magazine of Karlsruhe Region

While the history of music in Karlsruhe, from the courtly baroque to the academic Wolfgang Rihm, has now been well documented, there are also some important components that are rather poorly documented, and at best are likely to be familiar to insiders. From the late 1960s onwards there was a formation in the fan-shaped city whose contribution to the European emancipation of jazz cannot be overestimated. Rimski Eichhorn on various woodwind instruments and brass player Herbert Joos, both sadly deceased, as well as drummer Rudolf Theilmann and pianist Helmuth Zimmer formed the core of the Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe, which was renamed Four Men Only after the bassist left. The formation, which was sent to 13 countries around the world by the Goethe-Institut, had four long-playing records, Self-produced between 1968 and 1973. The re-release as a lovingly released 3-CD box by a Lithuanian label has meanwhile caused an international sensation, in the summer edition of the German trade journal Jazzpodium it was celebrated as record of the month. Anyone who gets to know the long out of print discs in this way will undoubtedly be surprised. While the people of Karlsruhe, who got along with amateurs with decided pride and who appeared as outsiders at the big festivals with this status, worked intensively with each other on their debut in the best African-American free jazz style, the second album "Position 2000" from the spring was already on 1970 was based on a very own, sound orchestral vision. From today's perspective by no means bulky, The music is surprisingly forward-looking and still explosive and refreshing, which does not want to sound like the supposed Kaputtspiel-Freejazz of German characteristics and is at the same time highly energetic and sensual. A fantastic chapter in the history of music in Karlsruhe that must not be forgotten again.

Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe / Four Men Only - Complete Recordings -

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