Saturday, April 14, 2018

Variospheres - 2017 - Live in Solothurn 1976

Live in Solothurn 1976

01. Unidentified Piece 14:00
02. Man Of The Light 16:47
03. Way To Oasis 11:31
04. The Sound Of Gold 15:55
05. Turbulent Plover 11:02
06. On The Farm 7:25

Bass – Hans Hartmann
Drums – Janusz Stefanski
Piano, Electric Piano – Michel Herr
Violin – Zbigniew Seifert

The recording took place in Solothurn, Switzerland on 18 January 1976.

This is an archival release of a live recording by the European quartet Variospheres, led by the legendary late Polish Jazz violinist Zbigniew Seifert, which also included Belgian pianist Michel Herr, Swiss bassist Hans Hartmann and Polish drummer Janusz Stefanski. They perform six compositions, four of which were composed by Seifert, one by Herr and the remaining one is unidentified. 

Variospheres, which existed actually in two different lineups, was Seifert vehicle for European touring and of course part of his personal development as a composer and a player. Recorded in January of 1976 this live performance was a beginning of a hyperactive period in Seifert´s life. In that year alone he recorded albums with Joachim Kuhn ("Springfever" for Atlantic) and Charlie Mariano ("Helen 12 Trees" for MPS) and his first album as a leader ("Man Of The Light" for MPS) as well as his solo violin album ("Solo Violin" for EMI which was released only a couple of years later). Sadly that year also brought the discovery of his illness, which took his life just three years later. 

The music is typical of the modern European Jazz of that period, which was heavily involved in post-Coltrane Free improvisation and constant search of new forms of expression. The European scene, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, was buzzing with incredible productivity and discovery, and Seifert and his quartet represent the atmosphere of the period perfectly. 

Although the sound quality of this recording is far from perfect, it manages to bring forward the incredible intensity of the music and the total involvement from the musicians. Seifert and Herr deliver lengthy fiery solos and the rhythm section supports the music and drives it ahead, both during the more swinging parts as well as during the freely improvised parts. Seifert´s incredible compositions are always a delight. 

The importance of the fact that this music is finally seeing a release, over forty years after it was recorded, is enormous. It adds to Seifert´s relatively limited recorded legacy and sheds light on a very interesting period in European Jazz, which is always more than welcome. For the numerous Polish Jazz and Seifert´s music connoisseurs this is an obvious must, and we should all be grateful to the Zbigniew Seifert Foundation, run by the incredible Aneta Norek, who is also the author of the excellent Seifert´s biography, for faithfully bringing Seifert´s legacy into the limelight!

Zbigniew Seifert gained more fame during his life beyond Poland's borders. He recorded with the greatest personalities in the world of jazz, like Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield (playing at Seifert as a session musician!). Few of this class of jazz violinists honored jazz music of the twentieth century. Seifert is a prominent figure, also in Poland for a long time known to record collectors, only thanks to the concert album "Kilimanjaro." In recent years, artist's music has been rediscovered by the young musicians inspired by his work.  The International Jazz Violin Competition Seifert Competition, during which the most perfect young violinists are selected, and a thriving Foundation for them. Zbigniew Seifert effectively promotes the music of his patron. Since 2017, the Foundation has also been involved in the publishing of albums. 
After the excellent album "Seifert" by Atom String Quartet, the next titles in the catalog of the label created at the Foundation are "Solo Violin" and "Live in Solothurn" , opening a series of albums containing archival recordings by Zbigniew Seifert.

"Live in Solothurn" is a concert from January 18, 1976, which took place in Switzerland, as part of the Second International Swiss Jazz Days, in the Variospheres quartet (Zbigniew Seifert - violin, Michel Herr - keyboard instructor, Hans Hartmann - double bass and Janusz Stefanski The album features concert versions of Seifert's famous compositions such as "Man Of The Light", "Way To Oasis" or "Turbulent Plover" , but also the song "The Sound Of Gold" by the composition pianist Michel Herr.
It is a music full of spontaneity and energy, created spontaneously but created thanks to an incredible agreement between artists. Each of the musicians seems to be democratically representing such and not a different course of each of the songs. Seifert seems to be at the top of the form: playing with emotions, in ecstatic raptures, almost with fury. At every moment we see that we are dealing with four strong personalities, who in Variospheres are able to create everything for themselves, not saving themselves for a moment.
The brilliant music that reaches us within 77 minutes is also an example of the direction in which jazz followed in the mid-1970s. It is hard to believe that the material has not been published in the form of a record so far, for more than 4 decades resting in private archives of Swiss jazz animators, Renate and Six Trutten's marriages. The publication of this material is an event on a global scale, and its value is invaluable. 
The recordings from 1976 were subjected to thorough digital remastering in the Austrian Mukhara World Sound, and the carefully released album was equipped with a book containing archival photos and statements of musicians taking part in the recordings. 
Big applause for the Fundacja im. Zbigniew Seifert for presenting these priceless recordings to the world! 



  2. Thank you for posting this. As you describes, intense recording.
    Here is another rare recording:
    "Live in Hamburg 1978"

  3. Oh, I forgot to request another splendid live album released lately:
    Hans Koller Free Sound ‎- Nome (2017)