Sunday, December 16, 2012

Irene Schweizer

I have occasionally delved into the impossible task of classification.  When you try to do something that can't be done, you will discover that you cannot do it.  Still, the resulting errors are at least entertaining to myself.  

Irène Schweizer is a Swiss pianist whom I discovered just tonight, after downloading her duet album with drummer Han Bennink.  I haven't had time to digest the whole album yet, but the second cut is simply magnificent.  Schweizer is described as a free jazz musician, but 'Verzweigelt' (desperation) seems to me to be a showpiece of avant garde.  

I like to keep classifications as neat as possible, and here is how I see the two sub-genres of jazz.  Free jazz is improvising that is unencumbered (by melody, time signatures, etc.) either externally by an prearranged form or internally as the music proceeds.  Avant garde is jazz that is fundamentally abstract, taking music apart and rearranging it according to the forms rather than the narrative.  The two types of music are not exclusive; however, when some kind of story line emerges, it is more proper to call it avant garde.  

It seems to me that 'Verzweigelt' surely finds a story.  While challenging, I think it is not that hard to follow and it is warm and compelling.  The above is not so good a sample, but it's mighty fun to watch.  I am also playing 'Eine andere Partie Tischtennis'.


  1. With your previous posting of seasonal greetings with Dexter Gordon's “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, I thought you were back into more comfortable territory and that we would have you back recommending the delights of your old favourites Jaki Byard, and David Murray
    Instead, you have us back into the Third Stream world of Irène Schweizer
    For those of us who find her duo albums with drummers incomprehensible, can I recommend her recording with alto sax player Omri Ziegele 'Where's Africa'; lots of great tunes (Don Cherry, Monk,), though none with an African theme.. Also her solo albums 'Many and One Direction' and the live concert 'To Whom It May Concern' . Cecil Taylor and Monk are obvious influences.
    However, she is an avant garde performer and for me not all her work is readily defined as jazz.

    Thanks for sharing on your blog what you are currently listening to, and for all time spent putting together the music on JazzNote/Live365
    Best wishes for 2013.

  2. Thanks, MrD and Merry Christmas. I do sometimes feel pulled in two directions when I decide what to play and comment on. I love Dexter Gordon and I can appreciate the artistry and compassion with which he interprets and expands upon that simple melody.

    I have, however, acquired a taste for being challenged. I find some of the material on the Bennink album mysterious, but the two cuts I am playing struck me as warm and passionate overall and not that hard to follow.

    Anyway, it's good to get a comment like this. It sends me back to reexamine my roots.