Irene Schweizer - Han Bennink: Welcome Back

Glenn Astarita By

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Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer and Dutch drummer Han Bennink share a long and fruitful lineage within the Euro improvisation scene as Welcome Back marks the their second duo recording. However, the pianist has recorded duets with venerable drummers, Andrew Cyrille, Gunter Baby Sommer and others of note, while Bennink has participated in duets with pianists, Cecil Taylor and Myra Melford to cite a few. The musicians' respective legacies could in theory, populate a book. Yet, they're at it again with these largely concise pieces that span quite a bit of genres and musical vernaculars besides the omnipresent improv domain.

Schweizer is also a drummer and comps Bennink with massive block chords in addition to their frisky endeavors built on pliant foundations. And Bennink maximizes the tonal range and possibilities of his kit via rolling toms, zesty brushwork and deft cymbals hits. More importantly, it's evident that the artists are intently listening to each other. On "Trap 5," Schweizer's gorgeous arpeggios induce a push and pull episode as they switch gears along the way, but relax a bit on the swinging "Rag," featuring the pianist's affable stride phrasings.

The album projects a mélange of styles, colors and quaintly articulated hooks, engineered with blues riffs, classical overtones and fractured theme-building flare-ups. No doubt, it's a variegated mix. The pianist also tosses conventional frameworks into the program, evidenced by the time-honored pop ballad, "I Surrender, Dear" and closing the set with a brief and buoyant reading of Thelonious Monk's "Eronel." Hence, it should come as no surprise that the artists' impenetrable solidarity adds another dimension to their enlivening exchanges and beaming telepathic powers.

Track Listing: Welcome Back; Kit 4; Trap 5; Free for All; Meet Me tonight in Dreamland; Verflixt; Rag; Bleu Fonce; Apus Melba; Ntyilo, Ntyilo; Firewood; To Misha with Love; I Surrender, Dear; Eronel.

Personnel: Irene Schweizer: piano; Han Bennink: drums.

Title: Welcome Back | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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