Samuel Blaser: Purity of Purpose In All Things

Doug Collette BY

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One of trombonist/composer Samuel Blaser's more subtle talents is his uncanny ability to as fully distinguish himself accompanying other musicians as when he is leading theme. The prominence of a sideman is, by definition, not so great as the bandleader, producer etc, but to completely engage in the project of another is an exercise in generosity and humility as indispensable to the success of a given effort as the more tangible skills of playing an and improvising. On these three releases, Blaser effectively runs the gamut of such chameleonic role-playing, fronting an ensemble, contributing to another's combo and performing on his own in a most unusual setting that highlights his considerable technique in an altogether different context than the other two. Together, these titles constitute a veritable tour-de-force from an artist whose sense of purpose is as unerring as his motivations are pure.

Out Note Records

As he states in his liner notes, Samuel Blaser is hardly one to shrink from a challenge, and so embarked on this project with drummer Daniel Humair and bassist Heiri Kanzig} after playing some live dates together. A rather broad range of material, original and otherwise, begins somewhat cryptically with the Original Dixieland Jass Band's "One Step," wherein the trio stipulate their bond with an understated, enticing clarity. The intuitive equivalence between the threesome as they play calls to mind the cliché about musicians' telepathic communication, but in the case of Edward 'Kid' Ory's "Creole Trombone," as well as the traditional "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," Blaser, Humair and Kanzig remind us of the truth at the heart of that trite saying. A short take on Sidney Bechet's "Les Oignons" constitutes one of the cheerier, upbeat moments here, but the pleasure is equally absorbing when engrossed in the more quiet intervals conjured up through this uncommonly personal musical partnership.

Sebastian Ammann's Color Wheel
Skirl Records

Samuel Blaser's participation in keyboardist/composer's Sebastien Ammann's Color Wheel is indicative of the trombonist's humble professionalism, not to mention an unusual confidence in his own ability to project his musicianly identity without undermining that of his comrades in the group. Accordingly, on tracks such as the dreamlike "Yayoi," Blaser finds a place for himself rather than making one, insinuating his horn into an alternately abstract and melodious context where patience remains the utmost precept for the quintet. Alto saxophonist Michael Attias thus has ample room to express himself before this opening track abruptly morphs into "Untangled," where the bandleader's piano sets a course for the ensemble to follow; Blaser doesn't intrude here either but instead discreetly suggests directions upon which his peers quickly pick up. The rhythm section of bassist Noah Garabedian and drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell likewise supplies an (almost but not quite) imperceptible source of stability by which the group further explores Ammann's originals and courageous covers like Carla Bley's "King Korn Revisited."

Samuel Blaser
18 Monologues élastiques
Out Note Records

As much a testament to his independence as his bravery, this true solo album by Samuel Blaser was recorded by Martin Ruch at the Funkhaus on Nalepastrasse in Berlin and spotlights this idiosyncratic musician's attraction to novel recording concepts. Rather than utilize the standard approach of of recording the trombone in a traditional manner, that is, in a single studio and in a static way, the pair decided to capture the sound of the man with the horn as he moved throughout the imposing complex. The result lends a kinetic aspect to the music not to mention a sensation of immediacy that translates into a virtual exposition of the man's personality as moved around the colossal edifice. His imagination clearly sparked, the sounds Blaser' elicits from his trombone becomes a veritable map of the musician's psyche, an impression no doubt as imposing as the physical space within he which navigated immersed in the glorious spirit of the moment(s).

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Original Dixieland One Step; Guggisberglied; Les oignons; Grégorien à St Guillaume de Neuchâtel; Belafonte; 7even; Poya; High Society; Where Did You Sleep Last Night; Ory's Creole Trombone; Bass Song; Jim Dine; Ory's Original Creole Dixieland Trombone One Step; Cantique suisse.

Personnel: Samuel Blaser: trombone; Heiri Kanzig: double bass; Daniel Humair: drums.


Tracks: Yayoi; Untangled; Castello di Traliccia; Resilience; King Korn Revisited; Aylan Kurdi; The Traveller; Afterthought; Pedestrian Space.

Personnel: Sebastien Ammann: piano; Samuel Blaser: trombone; Michael Attias: saxophone; Nathan Ellman-Bell: drums; Noah Garabedian: bass.

18 Monologues élastiques

Tracks: Appearance | Künstlergang/Toiletten; Missing Marc Suetterlyn | Saal 3; Grand 8 | Garderoben Foyer; L'antichambre | Schallschleuse zu Saal 1; Rotor Bursts | Saal 1; 78 instead of 45 | Saal 3; Le grand numéro | div.; Spotska | Saal 1; The Blues Is Green | Reflexionsarmer Raum; The Grumbling Man | Saal 1; Vinko | Garderoben Foyer; Le dialogue schizophrénique | Saal 1; Six huit sur sept | Saal 3; La promesse de l'aube | Reflexionsarmer Raum; Glissandino | Saal 1. DyManics | Garderoben Foyer; Torture Room | Kreuzgewölbe; Waedamah | Saal 1.

Personnel: Samuel Blaser: trombone.

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