May 9 2018
Escape Argot has got a process, and it starts with just a tiny bit of violence
So, what Escape Argot does is stomp through the glassware shop knocking everything off the shelves, and then, after the damage is done, the trio picks up the shards and rebuilds them as beautiful constructs of melody. This pattern fully emerges on the title-track for Still Writing Letters. The trio of multi-reedist Christoph Grab, pianist Florian Favre and drummer Christoph Steiner launches itself in all directions and throws their weight behind it. It’s almost a little startling how suddenly they’re able to shift into the most delicate phrasings, making the transition seem as natural as thunder to lightning, pressure into peace. Opening track “Die Besseren Ratgeber” hints at this pattern, but only in retrospect. First impression is simply that the trio has decided not to restrict itself to a thin range of tones. It’s only later that they reveal the magic as occurring not in the tonal range but with the shape of the transformations. It’s an impression that makes itself permanent in the way the punchy behavior of “Ueberbauen Mit Herr Mess” melts into a comforting pulse before gearing up to a glittering melodicism that achieves an intensity greater than the tune’s aggressive opening.
Not to be overlooked, however, is that many of those melody constructs are often quite catchy, too. “An Sich” lays the blues on thick and “The Ability to Adapt” takes its approach to subtlety seriously, but even here can be discovered moments of change sufficiently powerful to elicit a smile or an appreciative shake of the head.
Your album personnel: Christoph Grab (reeds), Florian Favre (piano, moog) and Christoph Steiner (drums).
Released on Traumton Records.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Music from Zürich, Switzerland
Jan 18 2020
Best of 2019 #70: Christoph Irniger Pilgrim – “Crosswinds”
The mercurial personality of Crosswinds contrives to never fully reveal its true nature. It holds something back at all times, and the apex of the album’s homestretch doesn’t manifest a ringing clarity. It’s as if words Christoph Irniger devised a complex jigsaw puzzle that purposefully omitted a few strategic pieces. The section of a person’s face comprising their left eye and cheek. A center window of a building’s penthouse suite. A swath of the night sky that may or may not have contained the final stars in a constellation. This album forces the listener to fill in some of the blanks on their own, and the music is sufficiently sparse and minimalist as to give the listener’s imagination all kinds of room for guesswork and creativity. This in itself is pretty damn intriguing, but nothing compared to the sensation that with each subsequent listen, it’s never the same puzzle pieces missing from the picture. Outstanding.
Your album personnel: Christoph Irniger (tenor sax), Stefan Aeby (piano), Dave Gisler (guitar), Raffaele Bossard (double bass), and Michael Stulz (drums).
Released on Intakt Records.
Music from Zürich, Switzerland.
I wrote about this album for The Bandcamp Daily.
Listen | Read more | Available at: Bandcamp – Amazon
By davesumner • Recap: Best of 2019 • 0 • Tags: Best Jazz of 2019, Christoph Irniger, Intakt Records, Zurich (Switzerland)