Erik Truffaz Quartet with Anna Aaron @Cully Jazz Festival

Erik Truffaz et Anna Aaron au Cully Jazz  ©Laurent Pasche

Erik Truffaz et Anna Aaron au Cully Jazz ©Laurent Pasche

Trumpeter Erik Truffaz has been a beacon of light in the Swiss and international jazz world since the early nineties and last autumn saw his 10th album release on Blue Note records. ‘El Tiempo de la Revolition’ links up nicely with tonight’s ‘Revolution Groove’ theme at Cully Jazz where the band finally return to play at this important festival after a gap of over 15 years – possibly a sign of how busy they’ve been in the interim.

It’s a delightfully mixed audience at the Chapiteau tonight, surley a testament of Truffaz’s dexterous ability to bridge the jazz gap from the traditional lyrical beauty of a Chet Baker to the nu-jazz experimentalist vibes reminiscent of Miles Davis. Hence, whether young or old, Truffaz’s elegant, atmospheric and resourceful style holds something magical for everyone.

Oiling the wheels of the machine are his heavyweight band members, each one bringing personality and colour to the cinematic flavour of the evening.

The wildly energetic and well-equipped Benoit Corboz on keyboards produced a wide variety of sounds ranging from piano, rhodes, church organ to wailing guitars and waterfalls. Along with Marc Erbetta on drums and voice box, they were the driving force behind the busy textures and soundscapes that contrasted from time to time with the more languid, introspective pieces. Marcello Giuliani on bass provided a rhythmically hip underpinning that helped to bring all elements and styles cohesively together. And as for Truffaz and his trumpet, whether bellicose or serene, his delivery was haunting, penetrating and deceptively understated throughout. Like liquid wax, he cleverly moved into places you would not expect and seductively melted you away.

Together, this quartet deliver a quietly confident, deeply poetic and engaging sound. They are not in any hurry, spaces in the music are allowed to breathe, less is quite often more, thereby allowing the atmosphere to build in a hypnotically meditative way, (typically evident in the track “African mist”).

The young and promising Swiss singer, Anna Aaron joined them on stage for two numbers, “Blue Movie” and “Blow Away”. Her soothing, agile, slightly pop-ish voice added a lighter touch, reminding us that Truffaz has often collaborated with unexpected genres of music to great effect.

“Mr K”, homage to their diligent manager, brought out their funkier side and whipped the audience into a joyful, energetic frenzy. It was hard for the band to leave the stage at the end of the gig, the audience had clearly not had enough of their favourite jazz export and wanted to bask a while longer in their irresistible ambiant beauty.


“You need to have discipline to create freedom for your band”

Swiss composer Nik Bärtsch and his band Ronin just wrapped up a US tour to present their new two-disc set called “Live”. Everywhere they go, music critics are raving about the groove of a music that is flirting with rock and pop. Swissvibes talked to Nik Bärtsch in New York.

Nik, tell us about your recent US tour with your band Ronin.

Nik Bärtsch We played in Oakland and Portland, where we had already played in the past. We also played at Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle. It was our first time there and it is a very good festival. Finishing the tour in New York was great. The headquarters of our label ECM are there. We played there last year and it was named by Jim Fusilli, the Wall Street Journal music critic, one of the best live shows of 2011 alongside Radiohead, Patti Smith and Björk. For us, it was amazing to be named with artists like them.

How did your new live album come about?

Nik Bärtsch We recorded about 50 shows. We made a first selection of about 30 tracks from all these shows. We reduced the number to 11 and worked with Manfred Eicher, our producer at ECM, to end up with a final selection of 9 tracks from different shows. The idea was to show the deveopment and activity of the band. It is a funny mix of small venues and bigger ones. For instance, we played in a theater in Lörrach. It was organized by a friend of mine and they had built a lounge. So we had young people lying in front of us when we played. It was kind of strange but also a really special show.

When you talk about Ronin, you often highlight the discipline of your band. Why?

Nik Bärtsch When you listen to great bands like Radiohead or musicians like Herbie Hancock, you can feel they have a lot of discipline. You need to have discipline to create freedom for your band. Our discipline come from our Swiss roots. Our sound is clean and precise. But we only do that to give ourselves freedom during our shows. You could compare us to an experimental pop and rock band. We are precise with our message. But the structure we have in our music allows us to have fun on stage. Music is the message.

Tell us about your relationship to New York.

Nik Bärtsch We played 4 times there. It is always important to play there because it is where most music is developped. We always have had inspiring audiences there. New Yorkers know a lot about bands. We were totally happy because they made us feel that they wanted to hear something special. It is a good feeling.

You are releasing a two-disc set at a time when people listen to more music online. Does this rapidly-changing environment have an impact on how you create an album?

Nik Bärtsch We always did what we thought was right. You have to work on the long run and show people you can surprize them. Ronin sold 50 000 records, which is amazing for a jazz band. The business model changes, the media change, but the message stays the same. I don’t only think myself as a musician. I am also an entrepreneur, because you need to sell records to be able to keep playing.

For more information:

Ronin’ s “Live” two-disc set is out. Label: ECM

Nik Bärtsch and Ronin play every Monday at Exil music club, Hardstrasse 245 21,  in Zurich.

Ronin will perfom at Label Suisse in Lausanne on December 14th, 2012.

For more information:

Le disque de septembre de Swissvibes, Heidi Happy “on The Hills”

Son nom d’artiste laisse peu de doutes son pays de résidence. Heidi Happy s’y est d’abord fait remarquer par sa voix haute, son approche folk-pop-country et son bazar d’instruments.  Son dernier opus, « Hiding with the Wolves », la montrait plus sérieuse, accompagnée d’un ensemble de cordes.

Son quatrième CD, « On the Hills », synthétise ses précédentes approches musicales. On y trouve encore un peu de son bric-à-brac musical – glockenspiel et accordéon – à côté de violons. Des éléments qui  ne sont plus un but en soi, mais intégrés à son univers en construction. Parfois joyeuse, par exemple dans ce «Patient Heart » où son cœur fait « Boo Boo Boom ». Heidi Happy fait la folle, jongle avec sa voix, les samples, les cordes, les sifflets. Elle qui gardait jusque ici la main haute sur l’écriture et les arrangements des morceaux a partagé cette tâche avec son pianiste Ephrem Lüchinger. Essentiellement composé dans son antre lucernoise en une semaine, mais aussi au Canada, ce disque manifeste d’une artiste épanouie capable de lyrisme, de s’offrir un duo sombre avec le songwriter américain Scott Matthew ou de chansons d’amour avec une musique qu’on croirait tout droit sorti de la bande-son d’un western de Sergio Leone (« Land of Horses »). Egerie de Stephan Eicher ou Yello, Heidi Happy s’est offert un album léger et ludique. Une respiration bienvenue qui va peut-être l’inciter à l’avenir à oser se mettre plus en difficulté.
Heidi Happy, On the Hills, Silent Mode/ Irascible

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