Music involves so many levels of communication: verbal, audiovisual, emotional, even body language. In jazz, the spontaneity of improvisation ramps up the suspense and the excitement. And yet in the best situations, instant osmosis and mutual trust can inexplicably kick in. And that was what happened in 2013 with the meeting of Andreas Schaerer, the Berne-based vocal acrobat and multi-genre composer, with Zurich drummer Lucas Niggli.
“We went on stage,” Schaerer remembers, “without any rehearsal beforehand, or even a discussion about what we would play - and yet it felt as if we had known each other for ages.” They then continued playing regularly as a voice-and-drums duo. Sometimes what resulted was quiet acoustic dialogues; at other times they would seek out the untrammelled, bombastic and loud. And they decided quite soon that they really wanted to do was to shed light on these two extremes.
So, for the purposes of a tour, they decided to use guests to develop their duo into two different trios: there would be a first trio with the Italian accordionist Luciano Biondini, which would concentrate on the lyrical, the poetic and what simply felt good; and a second with the Berlin-based Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima, in which they would enjoy amplified sounds and electronics.
“Rehearsals were planned so that we could work with Luciano in the morning and then with Kalle in the afternoon,” recalls Schaerer. “But a flight delay brought all four of us to the rehearsal room at the same time, and our sound-check simply morphed into a wild two-hour session of collective improvisation.” Niggli adds: “the two of them got on so well with each other, it was clear to us that we wouldn’t want to pull them apart again.” And that is how, instead of two trios, this one-of-a-kind quartet with guitar, accordion, drums and voice was born.
Because all of its members are so popular, the band was highly regarded from the very start, and was invited by several festivals. In the course of these performances the group gelled, and what evolved was a quartet in which all of the co-conspirators would have an equal role. They started with old pieces which each took from his own repertoire, and then gradually expanded the scope with new numbers written especially for the quartet. All four were able to contribute compositions reflecting their respective musical origins and preferences.
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