Swiss pianist Urs Voerkel along with long time collaborator, drummer Paul Lovens tackle the piano-drum format on disc 1, which has been somewhat of an emblematic or distinguishing factor for the always hip...Swiss improv-jazz scene. Yet, many of these accolades should be directed towards the great pianist Irene Schweizer as a result of her past and ongoing duets with world class modern jazz drummers (see AAJ Aug, Sept & Oct ’99 reviews). A 2 CD set, with interesting liners by Evan Parker, Patrik Landolt and Fred Luscher, Propinquity Zwischenzeitstuck Aria
has quite a bit to offer and interestingly enough contains more melody and structure than one might expect, especially for a free-jazz or predominately improvised outing.
On disc 1, Voerkel and Lovens waltz through six pieces as though they were chemists in a lab tinkering with formulas and theories in an outwardly conversational manner. Drummer Paul Lovens utilizes a barrage of drums, small percussion instruments, cymbals of various pitch while performing odd-metered rhythms coinciding in harmonious fashion with Voerkel’s wily yet at times mercurial attack behind the keys. Throughout all of the ruminations, Voerkel and Lovens seem enthusiastic as they mix it up rather nicely which runs the gamut from – suggesting Monkisms, or engaging in abstracts which border bop, swing and free-jazz. It becomes quite apparent that these gentlemen are willing to take chances as the music casts imagery of a winding and somewhat tumultuous path or river while encountering a few obstacles along the way. Plenty of depth and a few surprises such as the tenacious swing motif on the piece titled, “Propinquity 8”. Here, the duo stop dead in their tracks as they delve into a free form escapade which would make Cecil Taylor proud! Yet the duo re-group, pick up the pieces and take the music down “that winding course” once again.
Additional musicians lend a hand on disc 2, including vocalist Gabriela Scherrer, trombonist Priska Walss, drummer Jacques Widmer and Ms Schweizer who decided to sit behind drum kit on this date. The overall game plan and mood deviates a bit as Ms Scherrer scats and hums atop Walss’ muted, trombone which in some instances sounds liquefied.....A strange effect which obviously emanates from Walss’ unorthodox breathing techniques. Call and response and merriment come to the forefront as Voerkel cunningly injects dabs of melody and nuance, frequently complimenting the talkative interplay among the bandmates. Here, the players are discussing matters through their respective instruments, which act as voices, while the listener is afforded the opportunity to eavesdrop. Urs Voerkel along with an equally adept supporting cast, works wonders, reshaping, unfolding and sometimes inverting these pieces on a moment’s notice......yet, somehow it all makes perfect sense! * * * *