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Willisau & Taktlos by Irene Schweizer / Fred Anderson / Hamid Drake

Here are three masters of improvised jazz from two continents, presented in one duo (piano/drums) and three trio contexts, live in Zurich 1998 & 2004. Irene Schweizer is a pianist in the free-flowing Cecil Taylor vein, who is in no way an imitator; Hamid Drake is a amazing drummer who shines in virtually any context, and Fred Anderson is a longtime associate of Chicago's AACM enclave, a deep-toned, vigorous, blues-drenched tenor saxophonist whose flights, no matter how "out," are always heartfelt in an old-school manner (think Don Byas, Coleman Hawkins, Gene Ammons, all gents of the old-school). Toss 'em together and the sparks fly - but think you not this is one of those raging free-for-alls where the participants never touch the earth. The longest piece here, the almost half-hour "Trinity" finds Schweizer engaging in what sounds like mutant boogie-woogie and some slammin' Dave Brubeck-like percussive chord-age. At one point, Anderson and Drake slip into what sounds like a honking jump-blues groove vaguely reminiscent of the likes of Hal Singer and Big Jay McNeely. Drake plays freely, like the rest, but his approach is more explosive and propulsive than tentative or abstract. And Anderson, the seventh-decade marvel that he is (he played on the earliest [1960s] recordings by Art Ensemble of Chicago stalwart Joseph Jarman), has such a gloriously earthy, rough-house élan to his tenor that he grounds the trio even more than does drummer Drake. Don't get the wrong idea, though - this is not jazz for the easy-does-it, theme/solos/theme listener. It's demanding, but unlike some so-called demanding music, it does have its payoff for the resolute listener. On the selection "Schwandrake" these three make a darkly engaging structure out of nothing, one that wouldn't be out of place on a Brubeck or McCoy Tyner recording. Not one for those just getting their feet wet in free waters, but for the experienced.... yum!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Irene Schweizer / Fred Anderson / Hamid Drake
  • CD Title: Willisau & Taktlos
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Intakt
  • Rating: Five Stars
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