REVIEW: Out of Land (Schaerer/ Wollny/ Parisien/ Peirani) plus Adam Baldych with the Helge Lien trio at Cadogan Hall (2017 EFG LJF)

"Enjoyably brilliant; and brilliantly enjoyable."
Andreas Schaerer and Vincent Peirani
Photo credit: John Watson / jazzcamera.co.uk

Adam Baldych with the Helge Lien trio + Out of Land (Schaerer/Wollny/Parisien/Peirani), Cadogan Hall, 11 November, EFG, LJF. Review by Jon Turney.

European collaboration seems to be suspect in our grumpy little country just now, but a remarkable evening at Cadogan Hall proved that its musical results, at least, can be unequivocally successful.


Adam Baldych
Photo credit: John Watson /jazzcamera.co.uk


Both sets featured artists heard on the German ACT label, which like the London Jazz festival has a silver jubilee this year. The deep understanding Polish violinist Adam Baldych has forged with Norwegian pianist Helge Lien’s trio gave the first half unusual emotional heft. Baldych, not your regular jazz violinist, blends faultless classical technique - an unusually pure string tone, and an impassioned, flowing delivery - with a flair for improvisation. Folk influences also mix in with writing that is now anthemic, now pastoral, especially in his pizzicato playing. It’s a very personal cocktail, and allowed him to be heartfelt in several different registers in a set mainly drawn from the quartet’s latest recording, dedicated to his late brother.

Frode Berg on bass and Per Johansen at the drums are mainly in supporting roles but Lien’s piano, helping Baldych build intensity gradually on the slow pieces in a manner akin to fellow Norwegian Tord Gustavsen, responded beautifully to the many moods of the violin. The two returned as a duo for the encore, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, the most effective possible ending for the set.

Emile Parisien and Andreas Schaerer
Photo credit: John Watson / jazzcamera.co.uk

Then a buzz of anticipation for the Franco-Swiss-German quartet Out of Land that brings together four of the most exciting young musicians in Europe - Michael Wollny, piano; Emile Parisien, saxophone, Vincent Peirani, accordion, and the extraordinarily flexible voice of Andreas Schaerer. Nothing so conventional as front line and rhythm section here - although no ensemble featuring Wollny or Schaerer is ever going to lack rhythm - just four virtuosi finding ways to play together that make full use of their gifts without anyone grandstanding.

The recent recording from one of their first meetings is outstanding, but live the experience gains unexpected visual impact. Peirani goes through remarkable contortions as he expresses himself with his body as well as his soprano sax, almost matched at times by Wollny in torrential mid-solo, and Schaerer is in constant motion as he conducts his own voice through his full range, including wordless operatic song, plosive beats, and, on one high-velocity number, whatever the French equivalent of sprechgesang might be. Only Peirani, apparently relaxed in spite of a broken-down Eurostar almost making him late for the gig, remains still, but anyone playing the accordion with such abandon catches the eye in any case.

And a sense of abandon is something they all collectively generate. There are some knotty compositions on offer, but they sweep through the arranged parts, eager to get to the improvisations, when their mutual regard shines through in the delight in each other’s spontaneous contributions. The result tonight was an unbroken musical high, although if standout moments have to be marked the intense whirl of interaction between accordion and piano, Parisien’s impassioned soloing, and Schaerer’s conjuring of at least two, perhaps even three, percussionists while also singing tones were among them.

The only possible reservation about this gig is that it had to be a double bill. Both bands deserved more time, but Out of Land especially left a feeling they could - and will - have a lot more to offer. This rare meeting of musical minds is enjoyably brilliant; and brilliantly enjoyable.
The curtain call for Out of Land
iPhone snap by Sebastian Scotney


LINK: CD Review: Out of Land

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