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Christoph Irniger Pilgrim: Big Wheel Live

Glenn Astarita By

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Here's a young European jazz outfit that has a distinct personality. Led by Swiss tenor saxophonist Christoph Irniger, the quintet's upfront deportment is consummated by interweaving progressions and climactic pieces riding above variable currents. One of many outwardly enticing attributes is how sublime choruses often feel like they are on the verge of exploding into impacting sojourns, even when they don't. Irniger and top-flight guitarist Dave Gisler are strong foils and are undoubtedly a near-flawless match, here, on the quintet's debut live recording.

Most of these works offer harmonious primary themes, regardless of tempo or when the band is tearing It up. Marked by expanding improvisational components and converging opuses, Irniger's corpulent sound and Gisler's scathing, distortion tinted lines often bridge flourishing upsurges with airy and uncluttered movements, augmented by the rhythm section's punchy accents.

"Acid" is framed on a staggered cadence, colorfully navigated by the leader's delicate and tuneful phrasings that evolve into ominous and brooding passages, where Gisler seemingly bores a passageway into the netherworld with crunching and resonating lines. Irniger and Gisler's chunky notes on "Falling II" tenders an avant, jazz fusion paradigm, leading to ethereal contrasts amid a winding and edgy mode of attack, as the musicians' paint a dark, yet evocative storyline of perhaps searching for hidden treasures along the way. However, the plot thickens on the aptly titled "Lost in Space," via pianist Stefan Aeby's opening intro that summons an ECM Records type esthetic, tinted with a quiet and mystical tone poem vibe. Ultimately, Irniger's latest offering has great replay value due to its magnetic appeal, where various jazz-laced inferences translucently morph into an enticing program that draws you deeper and deeper into its core on repeated spins.

Track Listing: Entering The Concert Hall; Acid; Ending At The District; Falling II; Lost In Space; The Kraken.

Personnel: Christoph Irniger: tenor saxophone; Dave Gisler: guitar; Stefan Aeby: piano; Raffaele Bossard: bass; Michi Stulz: Drums.

Title: Big Wheel Live | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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