The Who Trio presents “The Who Zoo”

The Who ZooFrom the opening, assured double bass note and urgent cymbal tapping to piano notes peeking shyly out, the quality of The Who Zoo is apparent. The acoustic side of this limited release, double album uphold the trio’s aim: to respectfully work on the art of improvisation.

It sounds like a whale singing of unrequited love

The track Rembellarun stands out for feeling like an actual composition, all be it a dreamlike one with Michel Wintsch at his melancholic best and Gerry Hemingway providing an edge by literally scraping the side of a cymbal. It sounds like a whale singing of unrequited love. Just when the percussive ideas begin to dominate, in rides a piano rebuff – a few notes delivered with confidence and defiance.

Hemingway is a constant imaginative presence sensitively patting out ideas and allowing cymbals to whisper sweet nothings around the hook line in Demmpa. Bänz Oester tunes in, but asserts his own ideas with an intimate knowledge of strokes, caresses and pulls of his bass strings. The inventiveness of his playing borders on the magical.

I like it when they get raw and primal

I didn’t like Sloeperr to begin with, then at nine minutes in, on maybe the third listen, I got goosebumps and almost tears in my eyes as the warped hymn lines and piano poundings, bass vibrations and beatings and rattling drum funk entangled me in an emotional net. I like it when they get raw and primal. They can handle it without resorting to cliché. There are times when I’m certain Hemingway could get in chops and licks but he keeps it organic, all three staying riveted to the present moment. This favouring of the integrated ‘group solo’ enables an uninterrupted onslaught.

Hemingway was a name in the ‘loft scene’ of 1970s New York where free jazz had laid the foundation and was developed by new creatives such as Joe McPhee, Don Pullen and David Murray. His presence is powerful but his depth of experience is matched by Oester and Wintsch. Michel embroiders the music with runs that sound like glass beads scattering and exquisite melodies that seem to trickle from a Peter Greenaway film soundtrack.

How I’d love to hear Oester on electric bass

The second CD is mis-titled as ‘Electric’. I was expecting Wintsch on Fender Rhodes and how I’d love to hear Oester on electric bass, but in fact at the core of these longer improvisations are the acoustic instruments with what seems to be decorative strokes of synthesiser, electric sound effects and noodlings. ‘Acoustic Plus’ may have been a better description.

This release has a multitude of textures and thoughts: dry, scraping grief, assertive fury and vulnerable beauty. Although I wouldn’t have complained at even more variety, it’s quite an achievement to capture improvised music as it should be heard – live. The Who Zoo is an exploration of the potency of improvisation and all venues interested in such music should book them now.

The WHO Trio, The Who Zoo (Auricle Records / Nagual Music)
The Who Trio
Auricle Records

Disque du mois: Lucien Dubuis, le New-Yorkais

Lucien Dubuis Trio coverLucien Dubuis pourrait être né dans le Lower East Side et avoir grandi au Stone de John Zorn où on l’aurait biberonné au son des Beastie Boys. Au lieu de quoi, il a vu le jour à Porrentruy en 1974 et son trio est basé à Bienne. Musicalement, disons que le saxophoniste est New-Yorkais d’adoption. Après y avoir enregistré son précédent album en compagnie de Marc Ribot (Ultime Cosmos, Enja Records, 2009), une résidence new-yorkaise de six mois, en 2011, a accouché du cinquième album de son trio que complètent Roman Nowka (basse et guitare électrique) et Lionel Friedli (batterie). En choisissant un titre, Future Rock, qui sonne comme une déclaration d’intention, Lucien Dubuis continue de creuser le sillon d’un jazz contemporain sur une assise binaire. Si le fond est ambitieux, la forme sait aussi être sexy voire ludique : clins d’oeil exotiques (« Lançang »), surf music (« 4 Wände »), solo de guitare digne de Michael Hampton (« Yiwu Shan »), rap nerveux (« En descendant de la montagne » qui évoque la collaboration Saul Williams-Trent Reznor). Brillant à la clarinette basse, Lucien Dubuis signe un album qui fourmille d’idées. New York n’a qu’à bien se tenir.

Lucien Dubuis Trio, Future Rock (Unit Records)

Welcome to New York Bonaparte!

A gig on a Tuesday night can be a lonely experience in New York City for a punk rocker, who made a name for himself with his large multi-ethnic band across the Atlantic. But Bonaparte aka Tobias Jundt took on that challenge this month at Pianos in the Lower East Side of Manahattan and there already are some signs that Big Apple will enjoy the eccentric and energetic Swiss artist’s solo act and residency there in the coming weeks. The lead singer of the quiet folk band St.Claire opening for him on February 19, told the crowd that it would get loud after her show, because “it’s what happens after 10.00 pm in Manhattan”. And loud it got. Bonaparte, who recently moved to New York to write his 4th album, showed his crowd how to make  punk music with just a guitar, pedals and a computer.


Sporting his usual black eye and half-cow half-horse hat, he quickly brought the crowd to its feet with his powerful guitar riffs and his clever lyrics. He opened his show with”Wrygdwylife” aka “What are you gonna do with your life” and filled the room with his energy. One could feel that the crowd did not know what to think of this wild troubadour throwing lines at her such as “No I’m not drunk, I’m just dancing” and “No I’m not dead, I’m just sleeping”. But one guy started dancing crazily in the packed room and he helped Bonaparte break the ice. The slightly drunk dude, who had never heard of Bonaparte before and kept screaming “that’s right motherf…..r”, got his reward at the end of the gig. The rocker invited  him to his next show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn the following night.

Bonaparte played several songs from “Sorry we are open”, his band’s latest record that will be released in France in April. He also played tracks from his previous record, “My Horse likes you” (2010). Among them was the energetic “Boycott Everything”. “I boycott everything that’s not made by my hands”, he sung. During his 45-minute show, he rolled on the floor, sweat, drank from somebody’s drink, jumped into the crowd, unleashed his guitar, ran with it around the place and ultimately got the crowd to convince the deejay to grant him an encore. He closed his show with the electro-punk track “Computer Love”.

Bonaparte has another solo gig at Pianos on February  26 before being joined by his “divas” at Pianos on March 5 and then moving on to Austin for the cool South by Southwest festival. The whole band will be with Tobias Jundt for 5 shows in Texas and two more shows in New York at Union Hall and Pianos.

Bonaparte’s upcoming shows

26.02 | USA – NYC, Pianos (upstairs) – solo set | 10pm
05.03 | USA – NYC, Pianos (downstairs) – solo w/divas | 10pm
26.03 | USA – NYC, Pianos (downstairs) – solo w/divas | 10pm

13.03 | USA – Austin, SXSW – The Belmont
14.03 | USA – Austin, SXSW – Javelina
15.03 | USA – Austin, SXSW – Iron Bear
16.03 | USA – Austin – Marching Down 6th Street
17.03 | USA – Austin – Gay Bi Gay Gay
18.03 | USA – Brooklyn, NY – Union Hall
19.03 | USA – NYC – Pianos

09.04. | CH – Stans – Musiktage Stans

10.04. | F – Tourcoing – Festival Paradis Artificiels
11.04. | F – Lyon – Marché Gare
12.04. | F – Blois – Chatodo
13.04. | F – Paris – Festival Chorus
14.04. | LUX – Luxembourg – Rockhal
15.04. | D – Münster – Skaters Palace
18.04. | IT – Torino – Lapsus
19.04. | IT – Roma – Traffic
20.04. | IT – Vicenza – E20
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