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Heinz Geisser & Guerino Mazzola: Live at Airegin

Jim Santella By

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This Swiss duo has been experimenting with creative avant-garde jazz for a long time. Toni's Delight: Live in Seoul (Cadence Jazz, 1997) combined tension and release in a free-flowing format similar to that employed here for their Ayler Records release. Guerino Mazzola's grand piano fingers move like a storm front that wants to hurt the keyboard. At his side, drummer Heinz Geisser provides the kind of swirling thunder and lightning that make a distinctive impression on any audience.

Recorded October 10, 2004 at Jazz Club Airegin in Yokohama, Japan, the duo's 35-minute original, "The Skyliner, produces waves of anxiety. Mazzola is all over the piano and Geisser has thrown his drum set off the wall and back in order to create a superb disturbance. Extreme effort multiplied by anxious music has created a powerful and unforgettable storm. It's difficult to guess which is more forceful: the pianist's fingers on the keyboard or the drummer's sticks on his drum set.

Musically, they're on top of the situation; both are masters of their craft. Geisser, in addition, is a classically trained guitarist. So, it's no wonder that they bring in a guitarist and vocalist for their second original number, the 27-minute "Nu, which explores the animal in us. Like the notorious Yoko Ono, vocalist Yuki Saga shrieks and screams with ample variety as she sets Geisser and Mazzola on fire. The musical fireworks continue unabated as Saga carries them through tortured wails and petrified moans that gather up pianist and drummer in fright, convincing both to return the favor. They romp and they wallop, creating quite a disturbance along the way. Guitarist Takayuki Kato contributes little more than electronic feedback which is designed to enhance and extend the vocalist's tirade.

It's a far cry from the curricula at the Zurich Jazz School and the Zurich Music Conservatory, where Mazzola and Geisser studied. This leading-edge research in sound stems more from the advanced degrees that the pianist took in mathematics, physics and crystallography. With over ninety papers published in the fields of mathematics, topology, brain research and computer music, it's no wonder that Mazzola's curiosity has led him onto this outré path.


Track Listing: The Skyliner; Nu.

Personnel: Guerino Mazzola: piano; Heinz Geisser: drums; Takayuki Kato: guitar (2); Yuki Saga: vocals (2).

Title: Live at Airegin | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Ayler Records


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