Is it too early to start thinking about records of the year? The hell it is, as Duke used to say (no, not him, the other one). Superficially there's no-thing here that can't be found elsewhere in the expanding lexicon of jazz, whether it's a kind of Pullen-Graves thunderoso or that rather knowing anachronism that so many European musicians delight in: nor indeed is there novelty in the instrumentation itself. Duos are popular these days, but piano and percussion has some genealogical depth and diversity behind it (just listen to Ralph Sutton and Cliff Leeman then put it against Paul Bley and George Cross McDonald). On this basis Schweizer and Sommer might - with a bit of a stretch of the imagination - be roped into the «contemporary» end of «mainstream», as if such a category might exist, and if it mattered if it did. What is far more important is how they do what they do. Technically it's awesome, recalling M. Solal's point that the more capacity in that respect, the more ability to express ideas. They also emphasise the point Solal didn't make, that you need ideas to begin with. And a serious depth of mutual understanding in a setting such as this with such an open-ended agenda. Some tracks are short, like the two-minute opener, «Dresdener Schlittenfahrt», and lengthen a little to the 19-minute «Schweizersommer», but this last is flexibly episodic, and though to some extent it resembles the others it is qualitatively as well as quantitavely different because there's no doubt of the deliberate intent to play for that length of time. Nothing on this album just happened, but equally nothing is overstudied either. So it's all rather more than simply improvised in the sense of getting from A to B (or Z) yet it manages to avoid any more considered sense of «composition». The notion of John Zorn's «game plans» might usefully be invoked. Overall there is a transparency about the music which allows Schweizer and Sommer to blend the conscious and the instinctive seamlessly yet still make the listener aware of the presence of both. Great stuff! • Jack Cooke, The Wire Magazine, London
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