Search Results for: Colin Vallon

Swiss Jazzed Out: Elina Duni & Colin Vallon

Swiss_Jazzed_Out__Elina_Duni___Colin_Vallon_-_YouTubeMathieu Mastin, concepteur et réalisateur de la série de mini-documentaires Jazzed Out a posé ses valises en Suisse pour y orchestrer des sessions live improvisées.

Swiss Vibes vous propose de (re)découvrir ces quelques minutes de musique hors norme tout au long de l’été. Après le duo lausannois de Stade, le piano suspendu de Malcolm Braff, la balade continue dans les entrailles du club bee-flat de Berne avec la chanteuse Elina Duni et le pianiste Colin Vallon.

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Colin Vallon speaks about “Le Vent”

Colin Vallon © Petra Cvelbar“Le Vent” is Colin Vallon‘s second album for the prestigious label ECM. Listening to it, or to him speak, you might think he’s a bit soft – a gentle soul. There’s a distinct aesthetic to his playing, it’s mindful and sombre as if remembering a lost love. Interviewing him, I found an assured and fiery spirit; a pianist with a clear intelligence, driven to carving out his own, individual path.

“From the moment I could stand I tried to press down the keys”

Music was always around Vallon – when most families were arguing at Christmas, his was gathering at the ever-present piano, singing hymns and Gospel. “I loved the sound of the instrument, from the moment I could stand I tried to press down the keys”. Despite this, he quit piano at the age of 12 because he could no longer play by ear and reading music frustrated him. Then two things happened: his uncle taught him some blues chords that he could play, “Without paper in front of me” and he saw a solo concert of Keith Jarrett, “It was really amazing to hear that.”

He returned to music lessons at 14 and began composing. By 19 he was at the University of Arts in Bern and had his own trio. Here he found the American theory of copying the standards until you could imitate them too restrictive. “But this was also very good for me,” he says, “because it meant that if I wanted to do something of my own then I had to do it really on my own and to be more didactic in terms of composing. I was really independent.”

“It’s a music that has something very raw about it”

However the composition tutor, Frank Sikora, inspired Colin and for his class he recorded, “A huge fence or gate that was screeching, making harmonics and noises.” By 2002 he developed this interest in strange sounds with prepared piano techniques and had begun an enduring curiosity for Eastern European music. “It has something very raw about it and, like this fence maybe [that he’d recorded], it’s a very different sound and it’s something that caught me immediately.” He joined a band with the saxophonist Sascha Schönhaus playing Balkan music and discovered one of his “desert island records”, Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares.

A journey in Albania

Meeting Elina Duni provided fertile creative soil as Albanian music opened up to him and the Trio’s third album, (their first for ECM) was entitled Rruga, the word for “path” or “journey” in Albanian. It was critically acclaimed, so did this make it hard to follow? “There was a bit of pressure,” admits Colin, “not from the label, but from myself..it’s hard to come with a second album…and changing the drummer [from Rohrer to Sartorius], but in the end I’m really happy with the results.”

“There are a few goodbyes, a tribute to Asita Hamidi”

Colin found his material came naturally as he dealt with several deaths and saw a suicide jump from a bridge. “Le Vent was an elegiac album, a lot to do with death…and the passing of time and life. It sounds really dark but it’s not just about that…There are a few goodbyes, a tribute to Asita Hamidi [the harp player] who died…things that are a part of life but I needed to express somehow.” It’s Vallon’s careful listening for, then stating his own truth, that makes him a compelling artist.

Colin Vallon “Le Vent” (ECM)

On tour:

26/04/14 Jazzahead, Bremen DE
27/04/14 A-Trane, Berlin DE
29/04/14 Mokka, Thun CH
30/04/14 Bee-Flat, Bern CH
03/05/14 L’Azimut, Estavayer-Le-Lac, CH
13/05/14 Mokka, Thun CH
17/05/14 AMR Genève, CH
27/05/14 Mokka, Thun CH
01/06/14 Green Hours Festival, Bucarest RO
07/06/14 Paris Jazz Festival, Paris FR

How Did They Do? Jazzahead! report

jazzahead_SwissStand

Photo: Michael Hornung

It’s a strange beast: the jazz trade fair. There’s networking, business talks and sets of exactly 30 minutes, with audiences legging it from one hall to another to catch as much music as they want. It’s pretty intense. Wisely, Erika Stucky, with Marc Unternährer and Lucas Niggli, had been invited to open Jazzahead – not only is she an anarchic ‘force of nature’ but she embodies a side of the Swiss spirit I like: bohemian, gifted and pushing music as far as they can (see video of her in the men’s toilets at Jazzahead below).

Erika Stucky with Lucas Niggli and Marc Unternährer, filmed by Chris Philips of Jazz FM.

“I see what you mean about the drummer.”
Generally, the Swiss night was one of super-quality, despite most bands starting nervously. The better musicians were able to get drawn into their own sound and so, lead the audience into places where magic can happen. I wrote of Elina Duni‘s voice before and it rang clear and true in this gig with her quartet – I wasn’t the only one whose neck hairs were electrified when she sang ‘Fëllënza’. I’d pointed out to a UK promoter how wonderful Norbert Pfammatter is in the band, his playing is so sensitive it’s as if there is no drummer but a sweeping landscape in which Elina stands. During the gig this promoter leant over and said, “I see what you mean about the drummer.” From the audience’s response to Elina they were equally captivated. In the future, whatever context she performs in, I want to see her going places.

Maybe the most obviously successful act was Julian Sartorius’ drum solo
Someone else who made their mark was Christoph Irniger, warming into Pilgrim‘s set and launching a cracking sax solo that blew the cobwebs away. His time in New York came

Jazzahead!

Plaistow. Photo: Ingo Wagner

through in the attack he gave it. I was holding my breath at the start of Plaistow‘s gig because like so many bands they are an experience that needs time and a concentrated atmosphere – not what you get in a showcase. However, their narcotic concept with it’s fascinating rhythms had a booker for a big London club tell me they were the most engaging band of the night. Another, and maybe the most obviously successful act was Julian Sartorius‘ drum solo. It was a big ‘wow’ and my mate, Jez Nelson, a key jazz radio presenter said, “It’s hard to do something like that, but he was genuinely inventive.” Elisabeth Stoudman gives a wonderful in-depth review below.

Next year I expect to see more Swiss women onstage
Julian is also part of the Colin Vallon Trio – another artist I expect much of. His set was not only elegant but so assured; it showed the quality of Swiss musicianship. Luca Sisera’s Roofer played a more traditional style well, whilst pommelHORSE had more character but were also left wanting. To be fair they’d been delivered a bit of a blow when key member, Lukas Roos, left the band two weeks before this gig. I see a nugget of some possibility, especially with Olivier Zurkirchen on keys and one UK programmer said the band brought a narrative to their music he liked. Weird Beard looked more comfortable on stage than they did last year and delivered their ideas clearly with Martina Berther on bass. Next year I expect to see more Swiss women onstage – and that’s an order…

Thomy Jordi nearly blew my hair off
It was a pleasure to attend the Gala Concert at Die Glöcke with Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin and Hildegard Lernt Fliegen because this is where some of the showcase bands could be heading: a high level of recognition with audiences delighting in their music. Both received genuine standing ovations. Ronin’s music and lighting design isn’t messing. It delivers punch after punch, even when Sha is at his most sublimely subtle with his saxophone becoming a hoarse and whispering human voice, or when Nik delivers a melody so painfully sweet that it’s a beautiful surprise. Kaspar Rast is equally imaginative on drums and Thomy Jordi nearly blew my hair off with some electric bass notes worthy of Goldie’s Metalheadz label.

Jazzahead!

Hildegard Lernt Fliegen. Photo: Ingo Wagner

Such a touching ending
Hildegard’s show was a superbly staged bonanza of ingenious ideas with Andreas Schaerer even conducting the band in an improv – pretty risky in such a context. You may think a vocalist sounding a muted horn or beatboxing whilst singing isn’t your thing, but I would challenge anyone not to fall under his spell. The highlight was how the band brought it right down to such a touching ending. In the encore they sat with their legs dangling off the front of the stage, looking like a bunch of kids playing a charming round on blockflutes. It was a rip-roaring success. Schaerer has driven himself hard since I first saw Hildegard play in 2012 and he’s showing how Swiss music can make a big impact on the world out there. Boom!

Julian Sartorius @ jazzahead! 2016 by Elisabeth Stoudmann

Jazzahead_JulianSartorius

Julian Sartorius

Unlike Colin Vallon or Elina Duni who are already well known on the European jazz scene, Julian Sartorius is the new boy at Jazzahead! Although his solo project is not constrained by any genre barrier, he’s been considered before, part of alternative rock circuit. Backstage, Julian is tense: he’s coming down with the flu and fears this will hinder him. The Bernese drummer comes on stage, as always, aloof and a little shy. Had he not been announced, one could almost have mistaken him for the technician come to do one last check before the set. He sits down and turns instantly into a one-man band.

The audience holds its breath…
Sartorius puts on an impressive show. As expected, there are rhythms that interlock with each other like pearls in a necklace. Some sequences are set up in advance, others are totally improvised. His pockets brimming with drumsticks, Julian Sartorius stays unperturbed throughout. He can drop the sticks at any second to suddenly strike a percussion with his hand or place a felt mat on a cymbal. He then puts odd objects on his snare drum: percussive bits and pieces that he strokes, rubs and strikes with amazing feeling. Tension mounts in a jubilant crescendo. The audience holds its breath, captivated, when without warning, Julian Sartorius stops everything. Time’s up. The thirty minute showcase – that only felt like five – has passed. The audience is galvanized, excited, happy. We can only hope that Julian Sartorius has the flu before every gig. It seemed to serve him well!

Videos of bands at jazzahead!

Arte TV
Elina Duni Quartet

Luca Sisera’s Roofer

Plaistow

Weird Beard

 

 

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