August 1975 heralded the first Willisau Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The performance by the quartet featuring Danish saxophonist John Tchicai and Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer made its way into a pair of microphones, and shortly thereafter onto a limited edition LPwhich of course went right out of print. Free jazz afficionados interested in the active European improv scene of the '70s will be grateful to know that they can now get their hands on this document without hunting endlessly through used bins.
Hot-pink Willi The Pig strides confidently down the middle of the road on the cover drawing, but the music on this disc does anything but the same. The 47 minutes of free improvisation on Willi The Pig range from quiet contemplative moments to explosive outbursts of energy. The particularly satisfying feature of this performance is the way Tchicai and Schweizer coordinate their playing to bring the improvisation to a higher level. Tchicai's saxophone playing, frequently reminiscent of Ayler, emphasizes thematic content with powerful but bridled emotional intensity. Schweizer tends to play impulsively but busily on the piano, throwing out scampering runs and insistent clusters that help shape Tchicai's energy and flow. While bassist Buschi Niebergall and drummer Makaya Ntshoko propel the music forward with pulsing rhythms, it is Schweizer and Tchicai who really dominate the performance.
Unfortunately this reissue derives from three virgin LPs, since the original master tapes were lost. As a result, the frequency range is compressed, the piano retreats to the background, and the drum set tends to reduce itself to a lot of cymbals. In addition, the full-length performance is cut in half by an LP break during a period of particularly high intensity. So it's not the most ideal sonic settingbut if you keep your ears open, you can follow the evolution of an unusually fresh-sounding spontaneous improvisation.
Track Listing: Part 1; Part 2.
Personnel: John Tchicai: alto and soprano saxes, piano; Irene Schweizer: piano; Buschi Niebergall: bass; Makaya Ntshoko:
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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