"This work," according to a brief liner note, "was first performed and recorded at the concert 'Between the Lines - Zwischen Jazz und Europäischer Moderne'." If the intention was not just to stay zwischen but to bring jazz and Europäischer Moderne together in one musical stew, this disc has admirably succeeded.
Pianist Michel Wintsch, who himself traffics in explicitly European classical motifs a great deal in his playing, composed eight of these twelve tracks. Here he has assembled an unusual eleven-piece ensemble, consisting of a healthy number of string players, to play them. While most of the tracks have an energy and forward motion that comes from jazz, and many feature quite fascinating improvisations, the texture of this music is classical. And to the great credit of all the performers, it is nothing like the exercises in cliché or elevator music that "third-stream" exercises often are. Instead, this music manages to capture something of the emotional depth of classical music without sacrificing the sound of surprise.
Since there is more than one violinist, it's impossible to tell whom to single out for praise, but the string players are effective improvisers. Trumpeter Peter Schärli is a strong and strikingly clear voice. The vocals by flautist Franziska Baumann, deployed in the music as an additional (wordless) instrument, add much. And above it all there is Wintsch, whose piano playing never ceases to amaze. If you haven't heard him, here him now.
Gerry Hemingway, d; Franziska Baumann, flt, vcl; Nathalie Saudan, vln; Daniela Beltraminelli, vln; Peter Schärli, tpt; Jean-Jacques Pedretti, tbn; Michel Wintsch, p; Jean-Philippe Zwahlen, g; Martin Schütz, clo; Lucas Niggli, d; Jean Kéraudren, sound.