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Irčne Schweizer & Pierre Favre - Ulrichsberg

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Artist: Irčne Schweizer & Pierre Favre

Album: Ulrichsberg

Label: Intakt

Review date: Jul. 14, 2004

Irčne Schweizer and Pierre Favre first recorded together in 1968, and played together two years prior. I’m not familiar with their careers, but I do know that Ulrichsberg is a record that grows in stature with each spin.

Ulrichsberg certainly feels like a shared purpose. On “It’s About Time,” for example, Favre’s drumming accents Schweizer’s excursions across her piano’s right side with just the right mixture of elegance and athleticism, elaborating her forceful point-making without obfuscating the well-considered construction of her lines. The following piece makes clear their collective knack for constructing an unlikely but entirely plausible narrative sweep.

Favre starts the Peter Kowald tribute “Ulrich, Ulrich, der Wagen bricht!” with a two minute solo that sets the stage for Schweizer’s fleet, repetitive opening play. He hints at swing without stating it; she responds with an intense cluster dance. They move into a concrete-block boogie, break it down, build it back up, and finish with a tear-jerking ballad.

Each transition seems right and the music is all theirs, yet it tells you a lot about the dedicatee – Kowald’s determination for collective expression, his stylistic range, his heartfelt love for jazz and the sometimes lonely trail he blazed far from it. Oh, and make no mistake about it: Despite its makers’ long history working in the nooks and crannies of European improv; despite Schweizer’s percussive inside-and-outside piano work; despite Favre’s circuitous melodic forays, this is undeniably a jazz record. It closes with another heart-felt, if highly individual (or is that duo-vidual?) tribute to Louis Armstrong.

By Bill Meyer

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