In this classical piano trio setting Alvin Schwaar, Bänz Oester, Noé Franklé visit some very familiar repertoire in an organic, loving and open way. Sometimes the three act independently – always a strong strategy for interesting improvised counterpoint – referring tangentially to a song that binds their individual explorations together. Its a musical experience that resembles the silk threads of a spider web in a gentle wind, where each part of the larger whole moves fluidly but always retaining it’s form that has been spun from it’s core. Musicality, is a sense that grows and matures over time. It is present in these three musician’s intentions and continually evolving in our ears as we together enjoy the space music can create for us simply to be.
Jazz Magazine n°727 – mai 2020, David Cristol
Gerry Hemingway était dans la salle et rédige d’élogieuses notes de pochette. De Suisse émane également “Travellin’ Light”[****] (Bâle, août 2019) d’Alvin Schwaar (p), Bänz Oester (b) et Noé Franklé (dm), en configuration de jazz piano trio classique, avec ses interprétations d’Ellington, Gershwin et Bill Evans. Cependant, le groupe prend le contrepied de maints combos comparables, par le choix d’une lenteur consommée, d’une sensualité éthérée, de l’espace entre les notes, qui n’exclue pas quelques emballements bien sentis lors de superbes relectures d’I have a dream d’Herbie Hancock et de Big Nick de John Coltrane.
THE NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD june 2020 by Marco Cangiano
This is a somewhat surprising release from Leo Records, as it features a program of well-known jazz standards. It also marks the debut of pianist Alvin Schwaar and drummer Noé Franklé (veteran bassist Bänz Oester has been active since the ‘80s). It is a love affair between an interactive trio and a handful of compositions by legendary figures such as John Coltrane (“Big Nick”), Bill Evans (“Very Early”) and Herbie Hancock (“I Have a Dream”). The fact that two out of eight pieces were
by Duke Ellington is quite revealing of the love and respect for the jazz tradition.
The approach is one of deconstructing and reconstructing each piece, almost hiding the main themes and melodies while maintaining the utmost respect for their very essence. Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss” receives the most recognizable and perhaps respectful treatment whereas Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein’s “All The Things You Are” gets an initially atonal and multilayered handling, alluding to the theme halfway through yet disclosing it only at the very end. Each piece is built as a sort of condensed suite, with soft intros, often by warm bass as in “I Have a Dream”, followed by tonal improvisations touching upon the main themes, leading to proper codas.
The interplay is remarkable and announced at the outset of the CD with a delicate reading of the Gershwins’ “Someone To Watch Over Me”. The deliberate pace allows the trio to cherry pick and savor each note while listening to one another, Ellington’s “Heaven” from his First Sacred Concert being a case in point. Leo Robin-Richard A. Whiting-Newell Chase’s “My Ideal” comes across as less structured and leaning toward atonality and open improvisation more in tune with Leo’s catalogue. “Very Early” and “Big Nick” play with the respective themes but also try to capture Evans and Coltrane’s unique sounds, thanks in particular to eclectic drumming.
The wonderful recording quality catches subtle nuances, which continue to be disclosed after each listen. These are virtuoso players so confident with their approach to the music that they have no need to show off their technical prowess. As emphasized in Gerry Hemingway’s thoughtful liner notes, “musicality is a sense that grows and matures over time.” This is music that keeps evolving inside your ears.
culturejazz.fr 26.4. 2020
Avec ce trio piano-basse-batterie “classique”, encouragé par Gerry Hemingway, nous découvrons Alvin Schwaar, Bänz Oester et Noé Franklé dans une belle “relecture” de huit standards (Gershwin, Kern, Whiting) ou thèmes de jazz (Ellington, Hancock, Evans, Coltrane), ce qui constitue un contre-pied à une tendance actuelle largement répandue qui veut que chaque musicien se reconnaisse comme compositeur. Alors qu’il y a encore toujours beaucoup à faire avec le fonds inépuisable que nous ont laissé les grands anciens. Et ici, les thèmes sont tellement décortiqués qu’il est parfois difficile de les reconnaître, et la mélodie que l’on fredonne habituellement n’existe plus, sauf celle du Prelude to a Kiss final. Mais, en les tirant dans tous les sens, les trois musiciens vont au cœur de chaque morceau et leur redonnent une nouvelle vie. Passionnant. Un beau travail à encourager. « Travellin’ Light » (LR 875). OUI !
Musiczoom.it 15.3. 2020
Il trio degli svizzeri Alvin Schwaar al pianoforte, Bänz Oester al contrabbasso e Noé Franklé alla batteria mette insieme due generazioni, alcuni famosi standard e tanta voglia di divertirsi e fare musica. Sono tutti presenti in altri progetti ed esperti esecutori di altri generi, ciò li aiuta ad accumulare idee ed esperienze che vengono fuori in questo collettivo dedito ad una musica di tipo europeo, ma a modo suo ricca di uno swing introverso. Tutto è fatto a pezzi e ricomposto di nuovo, prendiamo ad esempio il famoso Heaven di Duke Ellington, la cui melodia appare all’interno di un’atmosfera nebbiosa, ricca di pathos sotto la superficie. Ci sono gli elementi del jazz, ma ricomposti secondo un’idea che solo questo trio possiede. Un’esecuzione molto bella è quella del famoso All the Things You Are, anche qui il tema emerge in modo sorprendete, fra astrattisti ed accellerazioni improvvise che danno alla composizione qualcosa di insolito ed originale. È scontato che Very Early di Bill Evans poco ha a che fare con l’esecuzione del famoso pianista americano, mentre Big Nick di John Coltrane è eseguito in modo più consono alla tradizione del grande jazz. I tre si divertono durante queste esecuzioni trasmettendo questo feeling all’ascoltatore. Un trio da tenere d’occhio, che percorre con successo vie originali.
March 14, 2020 The Art Music Lounge by Lynn René Bayley
- & I. GERSHWIN: Someone to Watch Over Me. HANCOCK: I Have a Dream. ELLINGTON: Heaven. Prelude to a Kiss. KERN-HAMMERSTEIN: All the Things You Are. CHASE-ROBIN-WHITING: My Ideal. EVANS: Very Early. COLTRANE: Big Nick / Travellin’ Light: Alvin Schwaar, pno; Bänz Oester, bs; Noé Franklé, dm / Leo Records CD LR 875
Those readers familiar with the type of music usually released on Leo Records will probably have question marks going through their heads after seeing the above header. Not ONE original piece by a group member or the whole group? An ENTIRE program of pop music classics and pieces by earlier, established jazz musicians? Yes, indeed.
The answer is that “Travellin’ Light” (spelled with two Ls…after all this is a British label!) so completely deconstructs these pieces that they range from barely recognizable to, as John Cleese used to say, “something completely different.” A perfect example is the opener, George and Ira Gershwin’s Someone to Watch Over Me. To begin with, the tempo has been brought way down, almost to a crawl. Secondly, the melody is played in such a way that the notes are spaced out differently from the way a normal jazz pianist would play them. And thirdly, within that spacing-out of the melody, the rhythm is shifted around so that the tune is stretched out over more measures than would normally be the case. It’s almost in the realm of “ambient jazz,” but not quite, because there is quite a bit going on in terms of rhythmic displacement throughout this performance. The trio was wise to open with a familiar song that everyone knows, because it gives the listener a guidepost by which to judge their approach to music.
I admit to not knowing Herbie Hancock’s I Have a Dream, Bill Evans’ Very Early or Coltrane’s Big Nick, so I can’t comment on how these performances compare to the originals, but of course I know all the other pieces played here. I can say, however, that I Have a Dream opens with sparse bass notes before the piano enters, lightly playing a few licks, before entering into the tune proper. I would assume that the same tricks with rhythm and time are played in this selection as well. One difference in this track is that both the tempo and volume increase to a grand climax before falling away, back to quietude.
Heaven is an Ellington piece that is almost never played by jazz groups, due to its being written for his Second Sacred Concert with a simple melodic line that doesn’t lend itself well to improvisation. Once again, Travellin’ Light slows it down, but since it was a slow piece to begin with the difference here is not as marked as in the opening track. Much of this performance shows off drummer Noé Franklé’s quiet virtuosity and his ability to create numerous brush effects while bassist Bänz Oester picks his way through the upper reaches of his bass. Eventually Franklé becomes somewhat more aggressive on the drums, upping the temperature level as pianist Schwaar picks his way through variants on the original theme.
Yet none of this prepared me for their extraordinary treatment of All the Things You Are, probably the most famous song written by Oscar Hammerstein II before he teamed up with Richard Rodgers (well, next to Ol’ Man River, anyway). In their fast-paced, almost chaotic treatment of it, the original tune is never stated fully until the middle of the performance (about 5:14 in), but rather in short, percussive jabs at the keyboard and with the notes very much out of order and even transposed to atonal realms. This is truly one of the most astounding transformations of an established tune I’ve ever heard in my life.
My Ideal opens with a surprisingly strong atonal, upper-register chord on the piano, followed by the bass moaning and groaning against sporadic percussion accents. This, too, is a fairly radical rewriting of the original tune, and again unrecognizable in the opening minutes. Indeed, the bass’ improvisations seem to be the driving force of this performance, with the pianist assuming the role of a background player.
As mentioned earlier, I’m not really familiar with Bill Evans’ Very Early, but can attest that Schwaar plays his instrument here very much in the Evans manner, and bassist Oester sounds quite a bit like an Evans bassist. Franklé sits the opening out, not coming in until after two minutes have gone by, and then he is very busy, upping both the tempo and the pace, forcing Schwaar and Oester into rapid double-time figures that become increasingly hectic and even percussive at times. By the four-minute mark, the band is really swinging.
Coltrane’s Big Nick is next, and here the trio opens it as a late-bop swinger, with a regular 4 rhythm and plenty of energy. Before we reach the two-minute mark, however, the drums are already breaking up the time in unusual ways as well as spurring the piano and bass into ever more frantic figures. There’s also an extraordinary bass solo in this one, just before the close.
The disc ends with another slow ballad treatment of a pop classic, in this case Ellington’s more famous Prelude to a Kiss. Here, the melody is played slowly but in a fairly straightforward fashion, with no really radical beat, note or pitch displacements.
Overall, this is a really fascinating recording that takes all of your powers of concentration to appreciate, but the results are well worth the effort.
—© 2020 Lynn René Bayley
Percorsi Musicali Di Nicola Barin 29 Marzo 2020
«Un suono non possiede nulla, non più di quanto io lo possieda.
Un suono non ha il suo essere, esso stesso non è certo di sopravvivere, se così si può dire, al secondo che seguirà. Ciò che è strano, è precisamente che sia apparso, adesso, in questo preciso secondo. E che dopo sia sparito. L’enigma è il processo».
Come ben ricorda Cage, nella musica il processo è il vero enigma legato indissolubilmente al tempo. Giovanni Piana nelle sua Filosofia della Musica afferma: « […] Il suono passa, ma non invecchia. Finisce, ma non si distrugge. Il tempo è condizione, nel senso più forte, del suo esserci, come se il suono contenesse in se stesso il bisogno del tempo, saremmo quasi tentati di dire: come se il suo stesso esserci fosse fatto di tempo».
Il trio svizzero lavora su questi due concetti, tempo e processo. Per farlo curiosamente i tre propongono un progetto composto solo da standard che vengono riletti secondo precise modalità. Se il suono nel suo esserci è tempo dispiegato, l’essenza diventa questo trascorrere. Per I Have a Dream, brano di Herbie Hancock, in origine costruito su diverse polifonie dei fiati, Alvin Schwaar e suoi compagni procedono semplificando da e dilatando gli accordi, anche a livello ritmico, sviluppando la coppia tensione-distensione.
Un classico come All The Things You Are viene riproposto abolendo la tradizione ormai depositata su uno standard cosi percorso da molti, per un verso un’operazione che ci ricorda quella del pittore inglese Francis Bacon. «È quando la probabilità ineguale diventa quasi una certezza che posso iniziare a dipingere. Ma a quel punto, una volta che ho iniziato, come fare perché quanto dipingo non sia un cliché? Bisognerà eseguire prontamente dei “segni liberi” all’interno dell’immagine dipinta, per distruggere in essa la nascente figurazione e dare una possibilità alla Figura, che è l’improbabile stesso. Questi segni sono accidentali, “a caso”, ma è evidente che qui la stessa parola “caso” non designa più in alcun modo delle probabilità, bensì un tipo di scelta o di azione senza probabilità».
L’incipit del brano traccia dei segni sulla tela musicale quasi a liberarla dai cliché che vi sono depositati, dalle interpretazioni degli altri artisti. Pare di cogliere nell’estetica del trio la consapevolezza di indagare una via di fuga presente in ogni brano e di utilizzarla. Il brano Big Nick di Coltrane viene esautorato dalla sua anima blues scavando verso altre direzioni.
Un trio da seguire con molta curiosità in vista anche delle prossime uscite.
Alvin Schwaar, born in 1994 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, starts attending piano lessons from the age of 6 in Claude Berset’s class in La Chaux-de-Fonds’ Conservatory. He begins his formation in the classical curriculum until his 14th birthday, then switches to Jazz, looking for more freedom, willing to compose his own music and to play with other people. After getting his bilingual maturity, he moves to Basel to study with Malcolm Braff in the Jazzcampus. Since he studies in this school, he also has the opportunity to work with several inspiring musicians, like Guillermo Klein, Aydin Esen, Jorge Rossy, Jeff Ballard, Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Mathieu Michel or François Houle. He finished his Master degree in performance in August 2019, with a project based on improvisation, involving two quarter tone pianos, synthesizers, acoustic bass and prepared drums with electronics. He’s playing in several projects (Œstetik, In Void, Immigration Unit, UJB, Schwaar – Œster – Franklé, etc…) involving a very wide panel of music genres, always seeking for new sounds and space. He recently recorded in trio with Noé Franklé and Bänz Œster, went to tour in Japan for Immigration Unit and released his first album in October 2018 as a leader with Œstetik with which they won the Jazzcontreband 2018 contest and are currently working on their second Album in studio la Buissonne. He’s part of the “Unorthodoxe Jukeboxe” Free Orchestra, since 2017, based in Basel. He also has been performing in a theater piece from Benjamin Truong (Thom Lutz) called “Werthers Lotte” and is very interested in other arts forms. He’s developing a new concept with Laura Chihaia, mixing Ravel’s music with improvisations and at the beginning of 2020, they will spend a six month artistic residency in Berlin to create their first interdisciplinary project. To keep a forward motion, he’s constantly looking for a new way of expressing himself on the piano, mixing all influences, including the poetic of prepared piano and the inspiration of sound synthesis.
Born in 1995, Noé Franklé is 12 when he starts to play the drums. In 2019 he graduates from the Jazzcampus Basel with a Master in Performance/Production. He studied with Jeff Ballard, Larry Grenadier, Mark Turner, Jorge Rossy, Malcolm Braff, Gregor Hilbe, Gerry Hemingway, Ohad Talmor, Peter Erskine, Lionel Loueke, Cristian Vogel, Albert «Tootie » Heath, Dan Weiss, Mark Giuliana, Ari Hoenig, Joey Baron, Jim Black, Franck Aghulon…
He participates early to musical projects and collaborates with many musicians from the Swiss, French and beyond jazz scene (Nicolas Masson, Gabriel Zufferey, Bänz Oester, Gilles Torrent, Caroline Davis, Sebastien Ammann, Ernie Odoom, Christophe Chambet, François Gallix, Manu Hagmann entre autres).
Noé is an active member and founder of several projects, including Immigration Unit, Gina Été, Oestetik and the Schwaar / Oester / Franklé trio.
More recently he has been interested in electronic music and sound engineering. He records, mixes and masters several albums and works, notably „Travellin’ Light „by his trio Schwaar / Oester / Franklé. For his master’s work he composes and produces an album of contemporary music based on samples and influenced by musique concrète.
In 2016, he was one of 6 young Swiss jazz musicians to receive the Friedl Wald Foundation Prize.
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