Space Improvisations and Moving Soundscapes

Hans Anliker, trombone
Peter A. Schmid, soprano, bass & contra bass clarinets, tarogato, sopranino sax, Tubax ­ PeterSchmid
Reto Senn - soprano & bass clarinet, tarogato
Jürg Solothurnmann - soprano & alto saxes
Evan Parker - soprano & tenor saxes

Marc Unternährer, tuba
Beat Unternährer, trombone

SWwalenstadtThe quintet September Winds was formed by Peter A.Schmid in September 2000 for a recording in a disused subterranean water cistern at the outskirt of Zürich. The space responded to every noise with a huge reverb. Exactly this abnormity was explored and exploited. The reservoir which resembles an ancient tomb or an archaic hall was found to react quite differently to low, medium and high frequencies and to various instrumental timbres. The enormous echo became sort of a sixth member. The result can be heard on the double CD “September Winds” (Creative Works). The music recordings - completely improvised - have other structures than in a concert room. The long reverb called for slow processes and the tones had to be chosen sparsely and isolated - except when the musicians chose blurred effects and dense concentrations.

This method since became the concept of the new group. It’s no problem for SW to play an improvisational concert under „normal” conditions, but in addition, it specializes in closed, large and overly resounding spaces, places that usually are shunned by music ensembles. Until now the group has appeared in churches, museums, expositional and industrial halls, covered inner courtyards of buildings with several stories and even in the well-known thermal bath of Vals (Grisons, Switzerland).

SwkircheSometimes the specific architectonic and acoustic qualities of each place become an important additional part. This concern changes the performance into a middle thing between a concert and a moving soundscape. In an exploration of the space(s) before the concert, the musicians sketch a choreography which disperses the sound qualities and instruments and lets them wander horizontally and (in a large stairway) vertically. Only in certain moments the five musicians unite in one spot. For instance in 2004, for the quadratic main hall of the Art Museum Chur/Switzerland was created a rotating scenario whose changing constellations ended again with the beginning. Sometimes the instrumentalist surround the public, or one player might even stays in midst of the listeners. Depending on the function and structure of the place also the public can move, change its individual listening spot and so to speak search its own sound mix.

The results aren’t diffuse at all. There are the timbres of the different instruments which are played by experienced improvisers who are able to create instant compositions. This guarantees for a broad palette of sound colors and blended sounds. The musicians work with various aspects and contrasts of near/dry and far/resounding, of dots, lines and sheets of sound, of left and right, of top and bottom, of visibility and invisibility to name just a few. There are antiphonies and responsories, faint solos and roaring tutti, and in some places just a small change of the playing direction of a wind instrument evokes unexpected effects. J.S.

So far September Winds has released 3 CDs:

„September Winds“ (Creative Works Records CW 1038/39 & CW 1036) - CD Rewiews

…sounds like rings on the water…
Tages Anzeiger, Zürich

The highlight is a one hour’s improvisation with all the five musicians. Tremendous!!!
Jazzlive, Wien

Presently it should be difficult to find a wind ensemble recording which is more suspenseful and euphonic
Bad Alchemy, D-Würzburg

On the self-explanatory Almost one hour it is impossible to distinguish individual contributions, as over time they become a flock of twittering birds, rumling subterranean demons, an angelic choir.
Art Lange, Chicago

This is an amazing feat of actual musical sensitivity
The Wire, London

„Alder Brook“ (Leo Records CD LR 379) - CD Rewiews

SWhupverbot…but the inspiration, perhaps because of the magnificent aural environment, perhaps because of the aggregation of tremendous talent (solar flares that day? blessings by the glorious god Shamash? something they shared at breakfast?) never flags. Each player shifts seamlessly from rushing river to racing skiff and back (and which is the master here, river or boat?) …. Each artist had that one day he’d been dreaming about all his life until then: the day when every passage danced like a thousand butterflies…
Walter Horn, Bagatellen

Much of these explorations sound partially composed since there is a great deal in intense listening and responding, hence very focused and inter-connected in the way they weave their tapestries together. There is a warm and suspense-filled spaciousness here, as they take their time, the textures become more dense…. The quintet do a wonderful job of taking their time to stretch out certain resonant notes so that one can feel/observe their textures which often float on space, providing rich and haunting harmonies as they sustain sounds and drone together. Each musician appears to get a chance to lead and navigate the rapids, each shines in their own way. Another superb offering from the great Leo network.
Downtown Music Galery, NYC

„Short Stories“ (Leo Records CD LR 428) - CD Reviews

It’s a startlingly hilarious blend of Boulez and jungle-era Ellington, the opening chromatic saxophone flourish and succeeding cadenza, dripping with vibrato and 1930s nostalgia, being complimented by growling muted trombone. A poignantly climactic moment of “harmony” drives the point home, and like many of the other tracks, this one simply stops, the space between pieces becoming as important as the music. The longest piece here is about five minutes, the shortest—also the last—is a 44-second romp through serialized Dixieland again, appropriately entitled “Fresh Ending”. It is just that, but I was left wishing for more. This disc is tons of transcendental fun, impossible to absorb but never unapproachable, and I’m left hoping for a sequel.
Marc Medwin, One Final Note NYC

September Winds' records always make for inviting listening, but brevity seems to have honed their chops even sharper. Short is definitely sweet on Short Stories.
Christian Carey, Splendid Magazine Online

...eine für mich kaum möglich gehaltene musikalische Dichte, die eine Komposition in der heutigen Zeit einfach haben muss, um merkbar zu werden. Gleichsam die Essenz aus einer Art musikalischer Destillation. Dabei spielen Kontraste, instrumentell und klanglich, eine besondere Rolle. Die wie aus einem Guss wirkenden Stücke sind aber nicht notiert, sondern haben trotz ihrer Kürze keinen Wiederholungscharakter, können also an anderer Stelle durchaus anders klingen. Das Zusammenwirken der klanglich so kontrastreichen Bläserinstrumente scheint derartig perfekt und konturenreich, dass in einigen Stücken binnen kurzem fast hypnotische Momente einstellen, die indische Musik, europäische Klänge und vor allem frei-improvisierten Jazz nahtlos miteinander verschmelzen lassen, ein Anliegen, dem sich Jürg Solothurnmann schon seit Jahren verschrieben hat.
Ulfert Goeman / Jazz Podium, Deutschland

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