Switzerland: Kurg Wickihalder, Beuret/Koch/Vonlanthen & Keller

Andrey Henkin By

Sign in to view read count

Jurg Wickihalder




Denis Beuret/Hans Koch/Vinz Vonlanthen




Beat Keller

Keller's 10



Switzerland is not as neutral as one might think, at least when it comes to music. Bordered by Germany, France, Italy and Austria, the country is a mix of cultures and languages, with cities like Zurich, Geneva and Berne functioning as a microcosm of the European continent. With a population of almost eight million people, it has had a long jazz tradition, from drummers Charly Antolini and Pierre Favre and pianists Irene Schweizer and Sylvie Courvoisier to newer ambassadors like Gregoire Maret and Nik Bärtsch.

Jürg Wickihalder is a young saxophonist from Glarum and Furioso is the first recording of his Overseas Quartet with Achille Succi (Italy) and the Canadian rhythm section brothers Mark and Kevin Zubek. Alongside eight Wickihalder originals, the quartet examines two pieces by Thelonious Monk, "Four in One" and "Played Twice". Their inclusion is instructive as Wickihalder, who plays alto and soprano against Succi's bass clarinet and alto sax, writes music that echoes the vaguely subversive style of the American pianist. Despite being on the avant-garde label Intakt, Wickihalder's music is almost traditional, though that can mean bebop, klezmer, Dixieland or even Weimar-era cabaret influences.

About as different as you can get is the trio of Denis Beuret (trombone, electronics), Hans Koch (bass clarinet, electronics) and Vinz Vonlanthen (electric guitar) and their live-from-many-locations disc Synopsis. Obviously these guys require lots of power strips and listeners will need remarkable attention to get to the centers of the 24 improvised pieces recorded in Spring-Summer 2007. Koch, born in Biel, is the oldest by at least 15 years and also the most well-known, though Beuret is a fine player, as evidenced by 2008's Alone (Leo). Synopsis is a misleading title; there is little in the way of resolution here. In fact, the miniscule bleeps, clinks and toots are definitely more journey than destination, understated and almost insectoid.

Keller's 10 is the little big band of Beat Keller, a precocious young composer and resident of Zurich. The group of mostly 30-somethings (three saxophones, two trumpets, two trombones, keys, bass and drums) navigate the leader's expansive compositions, which are well thought out yet not overly through-composed or textural. There are moments of limpid reflection that abut segments of Globe Unity-like cacophony and some might call the album slightly schizophrenic. But Keller is wise enough to vary his pieces to keep listeners engaged yet somewhat off-balance. An excellent debut from an ambitious writer.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Warm-up Party; The Pocket Trumpet Man; Desert Voices; Lovers; Four In One; The Valley; Surfing And Flying; The Moonwalk; Played Twice; Autumn Child.

Personnel: Jurg Wickihalder: soprano and alto saxophones; Achille Succi: bass clarinet, alto sax; Mark Zubek: bass; Kevin Zubek: drums.


Tracks: Synopsis #28; Synopsis #04; Synopsis #24; Synopsis #23; Synopsis #03; Synopsis #04; Synopsis #08; Synopsis #22; Synopsis #03; Synopsis #08; Synopsis #19; Synopsis #13; Synopsis #26; Synopsis #06; Synopsis #24; Synopsis #24; Synopsis #28; Synopsis #06; Synopsis #10; Synopsis #24; Synopsis #03; Synopsis #24; Synopsis #11; Synopsis #25.

Personnel: Denis Beuret: trombone, live electronic; Hans Koch: bass clarinet, live electronic; Vinz Vonlanthen: electric guitar.

Keller's 10

Tracks: syd barrett; piano-piece no.1; green; dimp (take 1); kanon 1; for 4—rockthing; for 4—rockthing; kanon 2 polytonal; dimp (take 2); machine; fuga-intro—fuga; fuga-intro—fuga; for 4—rockthing (live); miniature nr.1—bonus track; short piece—bonus track.

Personnel: Reto Anneler: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Rafael Schilt: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Matthias Tschopp: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Matthias Spillmann: trumpet, flugelhorn; Claudio Bergamin: trumpet, flugelhorn; Michael Flury: trombone; Fabian Beck: bass trombone; Andreas Meili: piano; Peter Gossweiler: contrabass; Marius Peyer: drums; Beat Keller: composer and conductor.


More Articles

Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017
Read 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!