Andreas Schaerer Makes Friends with London

Guest appearance with Soweto Kinch at King’s Place, London. May 31st 2013.
Photos Reto Andreoli

IMG_8967bI’d like to say he has bionic vocal chords

The vocalist, Andreas Schaerer, is captivating. I’d like to say he has bionic vocal chords but in fact they probably resemble yours or mine. Whereas I can’t even whistle, Schaerer can convince you that a nightingale has got caught in the rafters or a percussionist has taken to the stage with a shekere, Batá drum and a pair of claves.

This Bern-based talent had been invited to perform in London by Soweto Kinch, the British alto sax player and rapper. Part of the show was made up of tracks from Kinch’s ambitious concept album, The Legend of Mike Smith but part way through Schaerer joined Kinch to improvise with him, his bassist Nick Jurd and drummer, Shane Forbes.

The game was to interplay sounds and rhythm with Kinch on the modern theme, ‘how will consumerism respond to the depletion of resources?’ Appropriation and optimization were amongst Kinch’s articulate raps but to be honest, these themes didn’t cut through into the music. What did was Schaerer’s vocal craft.

The turn that made the audience’s mouths drop was his ‘muted trumpet’

Starting with a beautiful three-note call and whistles, African plains and fluttering birds floated through my mind, Schaerer went on to bubbling, clicking and bashing before building an industrial cacophony that dropped into some fresh beatboxing. The turn that made the audience’s mouths drop was his ‘muted trumpet’ duet, echoing and dancing with Kinch’s sax runs. It was so convincing that people looked over at Kinch thinking he’d picked up a trumpet.

The gig could have relaxed a little, allowing the band and Schaerer to expand on their improvisations, but it’s to Kinch’s credit that he spotted the potential punch Schaerer brings to a gig. His ‘joyful noise’ left us all smiling, including Jonzi D, director of the breakdancing festival, Breakin’ Convention. He was intrigued by Schaerer’s vocals and how he used his physicality to echo them, bringing a visual dimension to the performance.

Jazz musicians need to make international friends and connections as their potential audience is spread far and wide. Schaerer is doing just that. I hope that part of his journey is also taking him deeper into vocal expression, developing his potential to truly move people. His talent is beyond a party piece.

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