Usually, you’ll need to get on a plane to experience the sound of a foreign city, but the good people of Switzerland have decided not only to send their Olympians to London but their musicians as well. And, more precisely, their musicians from Zurich.
I didn’t know too much about Swiss jazz until I discovered pianist Nik Bartsch and his band Ronin. And since then all I have known about Swiss jazz is… well, you’ll have guessed.
I’m pleased to say that Ronin is one of the band’s appearing in London in the next few weeks, but there are other most interesting musicians as well.
Rusconi are a piano trio, though they sometimes don’t sound like that at all. Two tracks included on a sampler to show off the music reveal a guest in avant-gutarist Fred Frith and a delight in unconventional jazz forms as well as a leaning towards intriguing sounds and sonic effects. Some great, funky double bass playing, too.
The Yves Theiler Trio is a more conventional piano trio – Theiler has studied with Richie Beirach and Alex von Schlippenbach, but also has a passing interest in minimalism and in texture. And they can get pretty fiery, too, as they show on their tune Rasant.
Of course Ronin’s music is most aptly summed up in the term zen jazz, with its meditative minimalism raised to an almost hypnotic state at times. The band is amazing live, with immense crossover appeal. There are three Ronin albums on the ECM label.
There is crossover appeal all over the place in Zurich Sounds, this showcase at the House of Switzerland this August, as the sampler CD shows. In addition to the these jazz acts there are indie bands and singer songwriters who bring fresh nuances to this mainly Anglo-American music.
The jazziest of them is Ingrid Lukas who has her second album, Silver Secrets, now out on Universal. Born in Estonia, she brings elements of that country as well as Switzerland into her music, and can boast Bugge Wesseltoft among her advocates.
Zurich Sounds concerts, courtesy of City of Zurich and House of Switzerland, are all at Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London Bridge SE1 9DD:
Thursday 2 August, 6pm and 9pm: Rusconi
Wednesday 8 August, 6pm and 9pm: Nik Bartsch’s Ronin
Thursday 9 August, 6pm and 9pm: Yves Theiler Trio
Friday 10 August, 6pm and 9pm: Ingrid Lukas
All are free admission.
For more information, go here.