Ephrem Lüchinger: «Are You Prepared?»

are you prepared

Vor sieben Jahren ging der Pianist Ephrem Lüchinger für zwei Tage ins Studio, improvisierte und experimentierte alleine mit seinem Instrument, das der Zürcher mit allerlei Gegenständen präparierte. Das Material, das in diesen Tagen entstanden ist – zeitweise in Begleitung des Posaunisten Michael Flury – jagte Lüchinger später durch den Laptop, verfremdete und arrangierte die Klaviersounds neu und setzte sie zu 34 Stücken zusammen, die nun, auf der CD-Trilogie «Are You Prepared?» zu hören sind.

Ephrem Lüchinger – Are you prepared from ephrem lüchinger on Vimeo.

Entstanden ist eine reichhaltige Sammlung an neugierigen Klängen, die wahlweise technoid schimmern, romantisch schillern und auch popnah dahinschlendern können. Soundclips, Tracks und auch Songs sind auf «Are You Prepared?» zu hören – und die Trilogie entpuppt sich mit dieser Formenvielfalt auch als Suche nach den sonischen Grenzen des Klaviers, eine Suche, die allerdings scheitert. Denn Lüchinger, der in zahllosen Bands seine Spuren hinterlassen hat, entdeckt in seinem Instrument zuweilen Sounds, die man auch beim dritten Hördurchgang nicht mit einem Klavier in Verbindung bringt. So ist «Are You Prepared?» eine überaus lohnenswerte Reise in den Saitenkasten eines Instruments der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten. Möglichkeiten, die Ephrem Lüchinger verspielt und doch konzentriert auslotet.

Ephrem Lüchinger, “Are You Prepared?” (Dist CH Irascible)


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

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