Schlitten has been masterminded by Tom Gsteiger, a Swiss writer with a profound love for Jazz, who also teaches at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and at the University for Music, Basel. And while Mr Gsteiger and OFTF the label responsible for this release might seem strange bedfellows, there is nothing strange or whimsical about the music on Schlitten Both the label and the producer seem firm in the belief that a tribute to the kind of Jazz that drove generations of audiences insane from the turn of the 20th century and laid the groundwork for the avant-garde of the 1960s and everything is worth returning to every now and then.
Clearly Mr Gsteiger knew what he wanted to achieve and also didn’t have to look too far to find five musicians to make it swing and then swing some more on eight classic tunes written from 1912 onwards that have entered the canon of Jazz for over a little over one hundred years. And so you would also be hard pressed to find a recording of these works, more true to classic, no-nonsense, straight-shooting melody, harmony and polyrhythms and more thrilling than this one. Throughout William Evans, Donat Fisch, Banz Oester, Jorge Rossy and Andy Scherrer play with usual trademarks of incisive attack and beautifully accented and dramatised Time.
This pays rich dividends not only in the warmth of each solo, but in the masterful flights of harmonic fancy when the musicians engage in the kind of ensemble playing that really hasn’t been heard since giants such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, Charles Mingus and a handful of others in the Jazz pantheon walked the earth. The group of William Evans, Donat Fisch, Banz Oester, Jorge Rossy and Andy Scherrer is particularly alive to the theatre of these quintessentially Jazz works from Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” to Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso” and the magic lingers long after last bars of “Bill” die down. All this in praise of Don Schlitten too.
By Raul da Gama / JazzdaGama
Jitterburg Waltz (5:02) (Fats Waller, 1942)
Sweet Lorraine (6:06) (Cliff Burwell/ Mitchell Parish, 1928)
I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (4:53) (George Bassmann/ Ned Washington, 1932)
Day Dream (5:58) (Strayhorn/Ellington/La Touche, 1941)
Misterioso (4:50) (Thelonious Monk, 1948) Bemsha Swing (6:10) (Thelonious Monk/Denzil Best, 1952)
I Want To Be Happy (4:06) ( Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar, 1925)
Bill (5:02) (Jerome Kern/P.G. Wodehouse, 1917;rev. 1927)