Other Projects & Collaborations
The Players: Benoît Delbecq (piano), Gerry Hemingway (drums), Samuel Blaser (trombone)
On January 22, 2013, three innovative musicians recorded at Studio de Meudon in Paris, France for nuscope recordings. Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser, who currently resides in Berlin, Germany and Brooklyn, New York, is best known for his meditative, original, and exciting trombone playing. Paris resident Benoît Delbecq, of course, is a truly original pianist who merges such seemingly disparate influences as Gyorgy Ligeti, John Cage, Steve Lacy, and even electronica into a new and refreshing style. Gerry Hemingway, now resident in Luzern, Switzerland, is a penultimate drummer and composer who has performed with many musicians including Anthony Braxton and Ray Anderson. Hemingway has recorded for nuscope as a part of his great trio with Georg Graewe and Ernst Reijseger (Counterfactuals - CD 1010).
All three musicians have ties to one another. Blaser and Delbecq recently recorded and toured with Francois Houle's sextet. Hemingway is the replacement for the late Paul Motian in Blaser's Consort in Motion, who is about to record a new disc in February for the Songlines label. Delbecq and Hemingway have performed as a duo, and also recorded as a part of a special double trio featuring pianist Fred Hersch (also for Songlines).
+ Fourth Landscape Releases:
Fourth Landscape (Nuscope Recordings, 2013)
Pierre Favre and Samuel Blaser
The Players: Pierre Favre (drums), Samuel Blaser (trombone)
Swiss percussionist and trombonist rework several of the big band leader’s classics on their new program. The Pierre Favre & Samuel Blaser Duet may best be known for performing exclusively improvised music but they both hold deep admiration for legendary big band leader/songwriter/pianist Duke Ellington.
While keeping Ellington’s philosophy, the duet explores a variety of approaches to the music by rearranging and reinventing his compositions. The program features immortals such as Mood Indigo, Caravan and Sophisticated Lady combined with lesser-known tunes such as Warm Valley or Little Max.
+ Pierre Favre and Samuel Blaser Releases:
Vol à Voile (Intakt Records, 2010)
The Players: John Hollenbeck (drums), Alban Darche (saxes), Sébastien Boisseau (bass), Samuel Blaser (trombone)
JASS as in John, Alban, Samuel, Sébastien. Or as in jass, a centuries-old card game for four players, also called chibre, which is popular to this day in Switzerland and in the Austrian region of Voralberg. Or also as in jass, the term used by the Original Dixieland Jass Band lead by Nick La Rocca in March 1917 for the very first jazz-album recording. Thus Jass can be viewed as a semantic connection of little importance or simply an amusing etymological coincidence.
One might also suppose that some perceptive intuition, chance encounters and unplanned events such as Alban Darche’s admiration for John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet and his fortuitous meeting with their drummer, the development of a real bond between Samuel Blaser and Sebastien Boisseau or the playfulness shared by the four protagonists have guided them to reveal an aesthetic glee generated by a music both modern and deeply rooted in jazz history. A music that is eminently collective, that is expertly composed but yet its natural flow allows the meaning to emerge as much in the silences as in the musical motif wrought from listening to each others ideas and feelings.
A first concert in Berlin in July 2011 and later, an artist's residency in Nantes in January 2012 (where the current album was recorded ) were sufficient for these four highly demanding musicians to create, in such a natural fashion, a striking sequence of original themes whilst maintaining the group performance at its heart, whilst keeping in check demands of organization and balance in order to allow free-flowing elements of interference, of effervescence, of intoxication and yet avoiding being side-tracked on an excess or effusiveness.
As compact and well-constructed as it appears, this music cannot be easily encapsulated by one single interpretation. It invites the listener to create one’s own impression derived from the different alternatives suggested by it’s framework and networked connections which suggest that at any moment anything is possible. The precise attention given to the form of each piece and the constant concern for a clear structure are a fertile basis for the melodic voice and the many micro-narratives which intertwine consistently on a palette of incandescent chromatics.
+ J.A.S.S. Releases:
JASS (Yolk, 2014)
Made in China
The Players: Michael Blake (tenor & soprano saxophones), Samuel Blaser (trombone) and Michael Sarin (drums)
For most everyone "made in China” is a label synonymous with anything that is manufactured for the masses in a far away place by legions of laborers. However, Made in China will transport you to an idea of a different China; one where throngs of young people in cities like Shenzhen applaud, shout and whistle with excitement for the unpredictable sounds of improvised music. Made in China got its name because the band was in fact "made” in China. Originally organized by a friend to tour China as a quartet that included upright bass, the band found itself with visas in hand but no bass player.
Transmissions contains a program of mostly original compositions by Blake and Blaser including a tribute to the great free-jazz icon Ornette Coleman and a melodic tongue twister called Mouse. Two covers include a tender rendition of Louis Moholo’s You Ain't Gonna Know Me 'Cos You Think You Know Me and the rarely heard Jamaican ska tune You Don’t Know which are performed with an abiding reverence that captures every bit of the stubbornness that their titles suggest. The engineer and producer Scotty Hard brings a wealth of experience to this spontaneous recording session that is stunning in its genre-busting variety.
+ Made in China Releases:
Tansmissions (Fortune, 2016)
Gerry Hemingway & Samuel Blaser
The Players: Gerry Hemingway (drums) & Samuel Blaser (trombone)