Irene Schweizer
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Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer (1941), who had cut her teeth in a local trio with drummer Mani Neumeier. A few months after British saxophonist Joe Harriott, she pioneered Indo-jazz fusion by recording Jazz Meets India (october 1967), that featured a jazz quintet with trumpeter Manfred Schoof and Neumaier improvising with and a trio of Indian musicians (Diwan Motihar on sitar, Keshav Sathe on tabla, Kasan Thakur on tamboura). She achieved notoriety in a trio with bassist Peter Kowald and drummer Pierre Favre that debuted on Santana (october 1968), with the 14-minute Santana. That trio became a Quartett (november 1969) with the addition of British saxophonist Evan Parker (the 19-minute Where are all the old cop sets Clancy). Ramifications (september 1973) began a collaboration with tenor saxophonist Ruediger Carl (it also featured drummer Paul Lovens, trombonist Radu Malfatti, bassist Harry Miller) that continued with the quartet of Goose Pannee (september 1974), containing the 21-minute Goose Pannee. Carl and Schweizer formed a trio with drummer Louis Moholo that recorded Messer (may 1975) and Tuned Boots (november 1977), with the 20-minute Tuned Boots

Her first solo album, Wilde Senoritas (november 1976), contained two lengthy improvisations: the 15-minute Wilde Se¤oritas and the 18-minute Saitengebilde. Hexensabbat (october 1977) contained seven shorter pieces and the 12-minute live Rapunzel Rapunzel. Compared with the harsh avantgarde of the time, her style, blending classical, bebop and free-jazz elements, was folkish and oneiric.

But she was more famous for an aggressive style of playing that abused the possibilities of the keyboard and indulged in neurotic timbral detours. The duo with Carl yielded the live The Very Centre of Middle Europe (october 1978) and Die V-Mann Suite (october 1980), containing the 19-minute Frizeit. A trio with bassist Joelle Leandre and drummer Paul Lovens debuted in the 20-minute Trutznachtigall, off Live at Taktlos (february 1984). The collaboration with Leandre led to the 26-minute Now And Never for a quintet with American trombonist George Lewis, vocalist Maggie Nicols and drummer Guenter Sommer, off the live The Storming of The Winter Palace (march 1988).

Musical Monsters - Willisau Concert (august 1980) documents a live concert by Don Cherry (trumpet), John Tchicai (alto sax and voice), Irene Schweizer (piano), Leon Francioli (bass) and Pierre Favre (drums).

She relished a series of piano-drum duos (Andrew Cyrille, Pierre Favre, Han Bennink, Louis Moholo, Mani Neumeier), best probably being the one with Sommer that yielded the ebullient 19-minute Schweizersommer (february 1987).

Piano Solo 1 (may 1990) contained very short pieces, while Piano Solo 2 (may 1990) was a set of live (and longer) improvisations.

The trio of Schwiezer, vocalist Maggie Nichols, and bassist Joelle Leandre, all members of EWIG (the European Women's Improvising Group), recorded Les Diaboliques (april 1993), a series of brief absurdist skits. Les Diaboliques also recorded Splitting Image (november 1994) and Live at the Rhinefalls (may 1997).

The solo albums Many and One Direction (april 1996) and Chicago Piano Solo (february 2000) had lost much of Schweizer's youthful and almost punk verve.

To Whom It May Concern (april 2011) was a solo recital that included the 11-minute title-track as well as many standards.

Irene Schweizer collaborated with Swiss saxophonist Juerg Wickihalder on Spring (february 2014). Welcome Back (april 2015) featured duets by drummer Han Bennink and pianist Irene Schweizer .

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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