Live At Taktlos
02. Lungs And Legs Willing? 11:40
03. Trutznacht Igall 20:15
04. Every, Now And Then ... 0:55
Recorded live 4th & 5th February 1984 at the Taktlos Festival, Rote Fabrik, Zürich.
Irène Schweizer: Piano
George Lewis: Trombone
Maggie Nicols: Voice
Joëlle Léandre: Bass
Günter Sommer: Drums
Paul Lovens: Drums
At the first Taktlos Festival in 1984, Irène Schweizer assembled several chosen musician to a three-day improvisation meeting. The recordings, which appeared in 1986 as the first Intakt LPs, reveal the improvisational art of the pianist in three different formations: Schweizer and Lewis / Schweizer, Nicols and Sommer / Schweizer, Léandre and Lovens. Twenty years after their initial release, these improvisations haven’t lost any of their playful inventiveness, liveliness, power and originality. “A city tour through musical liberated zones” was what Zurich press wrote after the festival. In addition, the record is a cultural-political document of the atmosphere of awakening in Zurich in the eighties; moreover, it marks the beginning of the jazz label, Intakt Records, as well as that of the Taktlos Festival.
Schweizer’s Live at Taktlos—taped in 1984 at the first annual incarnation of the Swiss festival bearing the same name—marked the first LP release on Intakt. Reissued on CD the album presents the pianist in three extremely fertile situations with fellow improvisers from Europe and America. Peter Pfister, most-renowned these days for his impeccable engineering work for Hatology, handled the recording and while the fidelity isn’t blemish free it still captures the players with true-to-life sound. The disc's three main pieces accord ample space for extended free improvisation, the longest among them swallowing up a good twenty minutes. “ Every Now and Then, ” a manically-paced match-up of vocalist Maggie Nicols with pianist Lindsay Cooper works as coda. “ First Meeting ” teams Schweizer with trombonist George Lewis for a lengthy extemporization that is startling in its degree of close convergence, so much so that parts, particularly the puckishly tuneful conclusion, sound pre- composed. A wealth of unorthodox patterns and phrases pour forth from both players, often at telegraphic speed, but the whole constructed from these parts never loses a guiding sense of symmetry.
Less easily accessible is the trio of Nicols, Schweizer and Günter Sommer who convene on the enigmatically-titled “ Lungs and Legs Willing? ” Nicols ’ operatic, largely abstract vocals soar and swoop, leaving pianist and drummer to shape a sequence of ground-swelling collisions, soft and stentorian, that serve as terrestrial counterpoint in a crowded exchange. “ Trutznachtigall ” delivers an even most challenging experience via what on the surface seems the most conventional instrumentation. Bassist Joëlle Lèandre brings her full repertoire of capricious techniques to the event, sawing down tree trunks with her bow, punishing her strings with chest-pounding pizzicato flurries and, if the snapshot in the CD booklet is to be believed, even playing her instrument upside down. Her gruff and often outrageous vocals add to the turbulent atmosphere, veering from banshee wails to romantic cooing and back again. Lovens’ percussive idiosyncrasies fit right in, the fractious, but precisely intentional clatter from his kit complimenting Schweizer’s frequent forays under her piano’s hood to pluck and damper hammered strings. Attaching a play-by-play to all the delirious, irreverent action and reaction ends up a pointless pursuit within mere minutes. A marker for various partnerships that have since made good on their promises tenfold, this music still packs an enjoyable jolt on par with its initial release twenty years ago.
By DEREK TAYLOR, All About Jazz, USA, November 2005
Most independent recording labels have their bellwether artists, those musicians on the roster central to the label's identity and mission. Hatology has Joe McPhee. Peter Brötzmann is commonly associated with FMP. Tzadik revolves around John Zorn. In the case of Intakt it's Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer. Schweizer has been playing actively for nearly half a century and the last several decades of her career have been faithfully documented on Intakt. Ideally, labels and artists share a reciprocal relationship. It's the charge of the label to act as advocate for the artist and the job of the artist to supply the label with meaningful creative capital. Schweizer's partnership with Intakt represents a model of this sort of mutually sustaining arrangement.INTAKT RECORDS: http://www.intaktrec.ch/