NEXT ! – Instant composing

Jürg Solothurnmann, soprano and alto saxophones
Beat Unternährer, trombone
Christian Hartmann, contrabass
Dieter Ulrich, drums, pocket trumpet

Bern–Luzern–Zürich

Doing one thing while not ignoring the others. This could be the motto of Jürg Solothurnmann and Dieter Ulrich who met in the 80s in groups of Urs Blöchlinger. An important inspiration was the second wave of free jazz, specifically the generation of the AACM like the Art Ensemble of Chicago and personalities such as Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Oliver Lake and Julius Hemphill - steeped in tradition and yet completely open.

Next BandfotoAlready with the former Agasul Orchester, Solothurnmann and Ulrich have found ways to make improvisations sound like written and pre-composed parts like spontaneously invented. Both know jazz and other traditions well, but now they are reshuffled and “aired” by means of the free intuition. Do doubt, the memory is useful, indeed necessary, but what comes next as a surprise is most important.

Two members of the group come from Lucerne and are an ideal choice, the virtuosic, witty trombonist Beat Unternährer and the solid, responsive bassist Christian Hartmann, who know each other well from various other projects. It took some years for the quartet to develop the structural understanding and the tactics improvised form spontaneously so that it often sounds as composed or arranged. By now it is a flexible team with a certain mastership.

The roguishness is a sort of a fifth invisible player. With their spontaneous ideas, the players often surprise even themselves. The members bring in their virtuosity and enthusiasm for the service of the team in order to make possible lively events with coherence. Sometimes even whole musical dramas are created. This is artistry without a safety net, and everything is in the game, from short sketches to “multi-thematic" long sequences and from intensive grooves to subtle soundscapes. But every performance is not repeatable and unique.

It is not impossible that in the future the band returns at least partially to concepts and written compositions again. Presently they use some simple cues sometimes, but it’s after all about open ears, quick reaction and “instant composition” – alert and totally in the now.

The Musicians

Intermediating, building bridges and opening doors. Involved in the finding of an authentic contemporary expression Jürg Solothurnmann develops his music often on the border between different mentalities, cultures and aesthetics. His current playing integrates and transforms a wide range of musical approaches - from "imaginary folklore" to jazz-and speech-like, pointillist sound events, in which he is inspired specially by the human voices. Coming from the jazz and blues tradition, he is also in an close contact with modern classical, international ethnic styles, Salsa, Art Rock etc. They all continue to inspire him. His current ensembles include Potage du Jour (with vocalist Franziska Baumann and pianist/composer Christoph Baumann), In Transit (with Michael Jefry Stevens), September Winds (including Evan Parker) and Raw & Cooked (with Michel Wintsch and Christian Wolfarth). He recently played also with the improv scenes in Bucharest and Istanbul and with Nehad El-Sayed (Cairo). For his work as a musician, musicologist, journalist and promoter and spokesman of the jazz scene in Switzerland, he has received from the cantons of Bern and Solothurn and Bern various music and cultural prizes and scholarships.

With his double-trombone Beat Unternährer engages in shrewd, adventurous sound explorations for which also his profound classical and jazz training are helpful. He knows and loves many different kinds of music but creatively sets across all boundaries. As kindred spirits he calls e.g. Fred Frith, Etron Fou Leloublan. Tom Waits, George Lewis, Lars Holmer, Urs Leimgruber, Franz Hautzinger, Nils Wogram, Mouse On Mars, Griot Galaxy, Vinko Globokar, Bill Dixon and Conrad Bauer. No wonder he is also co-initiator of cross-disciplinary initiatives and projects in his region of central Switzerland. He has been working with performance artists, traditional Alphorn groups (Hans Kennel, Markus Eichenberger), within theater, voice and space/sound projects, the Swiss Improvisers Orchestra, Christian Bucher and composers such as Mani Planzer and Beat Fehlmann. Other today’s groups: Nashi Dela (including Thomas K.J.Mejer and Ilya Komarov) and ILMA (with Isa Wiss and Marc Unternährer). Beat is also working as a psychologist.

Apart from being also a professional photographer and cook, Christian Hartmann is mainly a busy and sought-after bass player in Lucerne, Central Switzerland and Ticino. His career as a musician began with free bop and free improvised music with idols such as Dave Holland, Marc Johnson and classically trained Europeans such as Henri Texier and Palle Danielsson. A bass player who only plucks only makes use of half the instrument. In order to improve his bowing technique, Hartmann went to the conservatory. He frequently works with baroque and classical chamber ensembles and also loves Renaissance music. With and without improvisation, he feels very comfortable with unusual small ensembles that produce delicate and precisely placed sounds. He is kind of a specialist for duos (with colleges like Carlo Gmma and Ivano Torre). More recently he has worked also within theater, voice and spoken word. He has played with Ernesto Molinari, Urs Blöchlinger, Mani Planzer, Fredy Luescher, Co Streiff, Urban Mäder, Patricia Draeger, Carmen Wyrsch, Albin Brun, Beat and Marc Unternährer.

Since the early '80s, the drummer Dieter Ulrich is an initiative part of a number of major groups and is considered one of the most sought after drummer in Switzerland. He is as solid as a time player with bop roots as well as a flexible, resourceful percussionist in the field of free jazz and free music, and also a profound adept of music and cultural history. As a jazz player Ulrich started with his adolescence companions Harald Haerter, Omri Ziegele and Urs Blöchlinger. He since has worked internationally with a host of Swiss, European and American soloists such as Glenn Ferris, Ernst L. Petrowoski, Tom Varner, Vinny Golia Werner Lüdi, Trevor Watts, Lindsay  L.Cooper, Christoph Gallio, Christoph Baumann, Jacques Siron, Urs Voerkel, Alfred Zimmerlin, Co Streiff, Michael Jefry Stevens, and Oliver Lake. He periodically has staged his own music and multimedia projects and is involved with the organization of events in the region of Zurich. No wonder that he is a member of a dozen groups such as Noisy Minority, Chris Wiesendanger Trio, Christoph Grab Quartet, Afro Garage and Solothurnman's quartet In Transit. In 2008, Ulrich was awarded work year grant of the City of Zurich.

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