Live at Taktlos. Intakt CD 001



You don't have to be French to know that good wine improves with age, but if you want to rush out and buy a bottle of one of last year's Grands Crus Classés and drink it tonight, I guess it's your choice. I remember listening to and thoroughly enjoying Irene Schweizer's Live at Taktlos set when it inaugurated the Intakt label nearly twenty years ago (gulp), but I can tell you that today it sounds even better. Pianist Schweizer consolidated her reputation as a performer of prodigious technique and extraordinary sensitivity with this set of improvisations on which she was joined by Maggie Nicols (voice), Joëlle Léandre (bass), George Lewis (trombone), and percussionists Günter Sommer and Paul Lovens (Lindsay Cooper also makes a cameo appearance here on the hilarious "Every Now And Then".. all "jazz standards" should sound like this). These days, now that the molten lava of free improv has cooled to form a number of well-charted islands, it's even more refreshing to rediscover a music that moves effortlessly between high octane free, Darmstadt pointillism, Cathy Berberian theatrics and even stride and boogie woogie. It's also a timely reminder of how awesome these performers were (are): Lewis is all over the trombone, quote John swinging his fucking ass off unquote Zorn, Léandre hysterical and inspired, Nicols superbly poised and devastatingly precise, and Schweizer brings it all together with style. Don't wait another 21 years to crack open this one: it's ready for drinking right now.
DAN WARBURTON, Paris Transatlantic Magazine, OCTOBER 2005



1984 hatte Irène Schweizer befreundete Jazzerinnen und Jazzer aus Europa und den USA ans erste Taktlos-Festival eingeladen. Die Neuauflage des damaligen Mitschnitts illustriert die zeitlose Brillanz dieser Pianistin.
Frank von Niederhäusern, Radiomagazin, Zürich, 33/05


* * * Haute voltige
Réédition du premier microsillon publié par le très intéressant label suisse Intakt, ce disque propose des extraits de trois jours de rencontres organisées à Zürich autour de la pianiste Irène Schweizer. Trois improvisations (plus un court bonus par Nichols et Lindsay Cooper) sont proposées dont la première (un duo avec George Lewis) atteint des hauteurs musicales assez vertigineuses. Irène Schweizer y révèle notamment des qualités lyriques – et de swing, c'est une véritable pianiste de jazz – que l'on ne soupçonne pas toujours chez cette musicienne rigoureuse qui ne cultive pas la décoration superficielle. Cette facette se retrouve dans les deux trios qui suivent. Avec l'appui sans faille et toujours inspiré de Günter Sommer – quelle musicalité chez ce percussionniste – son jeu nourrit constamment les improvisations vocales de Maggie Nicols. Le second trio, plus long mais aussi plus sec, heurté, avec des cassures, montre l'égal engagement et la générosité de tous; malgré l'éclatement, aucune hésitation, aucun temps mort ne viennent ternir cette performance. Bien sûr, le recul du temps qui permet de replacer cette musique dans son époque, rendra l'auditeur critique moins indulgent envers les vocalises qui ont moins résisté, surtout celles un peu forcées de Joëlle Léandre.
Jean Buzelin, Jazzman, Paris, october 2005


Schweizer wurde ja bereits letzten Monat mit einer sehr guten Compilation gewürdigt. Hier geht’s noch tiefer zu den Wurzeln: diese legendären Konzertaufnahmen aus der Roten Fabrik Zürich 1984 markieren sowohl den Beginn des enorm wichtigen Taktlos-Festivals wie auch des Intakt-Labels, das sich zunächst um die Dokumentation von Schweizers Musik kümmerte und mittlerweile zum wichtigsten Schweizer Label für improvisierte Musik geworden ist. Das längst vergriffene Vinyl nun auf CD und in aller Anarchie, Spontanität und Impulsivität nachhörbar.
Honker, Terz, 11/2005, Deutschland



For a career spanning four decades, Irene Schweizer's 'Live at Taktlos' was a ground-breaking moment for a number of reasons. First of all, it marked the physical beginning of Intakt Records, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary. [In fact, a retrospective CD of Irene's work is slated for release later on this month on Intakt.] On another level, it marked Irene's distinct collaboration with the cream of the crop of the improvised scene. Musicians such as trombonist George Lewis, vocalist Maggie Nicols, bassist Joelle Leandre, percussionists Paul Lovens and Gunter Sommer and pianist Lindsay Cooper all came together at the Rote Fabrik in Zurich for the Taktlos Festival in 1984 to put this work on tape. Each of the four pieces features a different line up of musicians and each is as distinct and individual as every one of Irene's records. What I love the most about this particular Irene Schweizer record is the distinct opportunity to be able to hear her in a different line up within a short span of time.
There is the subtlety of 'First Meeting', where George Lewis trades hefty trombone overtures alongside Irene's introspective jump-like piano figurines. Then, we come to 'Lungs and Legs Willing?' during which Maggie Nicol's mighty vocal chords dominate the scenery. It's actually wonderful to hear her accompany Gunter Sommer's subtle percussion moves, especially when the two get into a slower mode. The album closes with a jovial anthem 'Every Now and Then', where Maggie Nicols proclaims 'I'll be yours every now and then'.every few months for a few seconds, I'll be yours'. A perfect closer to an album that is as rich in ideas as it is in its execution.
Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta, Poland 2005



Most independent recording labels have their bellwether artists, those musicians on the roster central to the label’s identity and mission. Hatology has Joe McPhee. Peter Brötzmann is commonly associated with FMP. Tzadik revolves around John Zorn. In the case of Intakt it’s Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer. Schweizer has been playing actively for nearly half a century and the last several decades of her career have been faithfully documented on Intakt. Ideally, labels and artists share a reciprocal relationship. It’s the charge of the label to act as advocate for the artist and the job of the artist to supply the label with meaningful creative capital. Schweizer’s partnership with Intakt represents a model of this sort of mutually sustaining arrangement.
Irène Schweizer
Live at Taktlos
1984, reissued 2005

Schweizer’s Live at Taktlos—taped in 1984 at the first annual incarnation of the Swiss festival bearing the same name—marked the first LP release on Intakt. Reissued on CD the album presents the pianist in three extremely fertile situations with fellow improvisers from Europe and America. Peter Pfister, most-renowned these days for his impeccable engineering work for Hatology, handled the recording and while the fidelity isn’t blemish free it still captures the players with true-to-life sound. The disc's three main pieces accord ample space for extended free improvisation, the longest among them swallowing up a good twenty minutes. “Every Now and Then,” a manically-paced match-up of vocalist Maggie Nicols with pianist Lindsay Cooper works as coda. “First Meeting” teams Schweizer with trombonist George Lewis for a lengthy extemporization that is startling in its degree of close convergence, so much so that parts, particularly the puckishly tuneful conclusion, sound pre-composed. A wealth of unorthodox patterns and phrases pour forth from both players, often at telegraphic speed, but the whole constructed from these parts never loses a guiding sense of symmetry.
Less easily accessible is the trio of Nicols, Schweizer and Günter Sommer who convene on the enigmatically-titled “Lungs and Legs Willing?” Nicols’ operatic, largely abstract vocals soar and swoop, leaving pianist and drummer to shape a sequence of ground-swelling collisions, soft and stentorian, that serve as terrestrial counterpoint in a crowded exchange. “Trutznachtigall” delivers an even most challenging experience via what on the surface seems the most conventional instrumentation. Bassist Joëlle Lèandre brings her full repertoire of capricious techniques to the event, sawing down tree trunks with her bow, punishing her strings with chest-pounding pizzicato flurries and, if the snapshot in the CD booklet is to be believed, even playing her instrument upside down. Her gruff and often outrageous vocals add to the turbulent atmosphere, veering from banshee wails to romantic cooing and back again. Lovens’ percussive idiosyncrasies fit right in, the fractious, but precisely intentional clatter from his kit complimenting Schweizer’s frequent forays under her piano’s hood to pluck and damper hammered strings. Attaching a play-by-play to all the delirious, irreverent action and reaction ends up a pointless pursuit within mere minutes. A marker for various partnerships that have since made good on their promises tenfold, this music still packs an enjoyable jolt on par with its initial release twenty years ago.
Derek Taylor, All About Jazz, USA, November 2005



Réédition d'un album qui fut le premier du label suisse Intakt. Il s'agit de pièces enregistrées au cours des trois jours du festival de Taklos à Zurich, en février 1984. Trois improvisations + bonus de la pianiste Irène Schweizer, spécialiste de la musique improvisée européenne. Elle dialogue d' abord avec George Lewis: tb. Puis en trio avec la vocaliste Maggie Nicols qui s'envole et le batteur Günter Sommer très présent. On continue en trio avec Joëlle Léandre: cb, et Paul Lowens: dr. Pour finir avec quelques glapissements de Maggie Nicols soutenue par le pianiste Lindsay Cooper. De l'improvisation totalement libre où l'originalité est constante.
Jazz Notes, Paris, Décembre 2005


Kurt Gottschalk, Signal to Noise, USA/Canada, Winter 2006


Ayumi Kagitani, Way Out West 97, Japan, April 2017

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