Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser opens Coastal Jazz's fall season and Bright Moments with a concert at the Western Front October 14.
Here's more about this innovative project that blends jazz, blues, improvised music, and contemporary classical into a harmonious whole.
Samuel Blaser's new quartet album Spring Rain (Whirlwind) is a tribute to US clarinettist and composer Jimmy Giuffre. Intentionally blurring the boundaries between jazz, blues, free improvisation and contemporary classical, along with an ear for strong melody, Blaser is a musician who seeks to widen the musical scope of his instrument while retaining its tonal identity. His own playing is rooted in classical training and with beginnings in blues and swing he gained a scholarship to study in the United States. His early penchant for breaking free of constraints has resulted in a number of successful collaborations.
Following an already impressive back-catalog – most recently his informed interpretation of works by medieval composer Guillame de Machaut (Consort in Motion: A Mirror to Machaut, 2013) – on Spring Rain Blaser takes the melodic focus and considerable but perhaps lesser-known output of Jimmy Giuffre (1921-2008) to inspire new compositions and interpretations which bristle with spontaneity and invention. Possessing a lyrical tone as well as a mastery of multiphonics (often achieving extraordinary, gritty results with these carefully-crafted embouchured/sung clusters), Blaser duels with the myriad keyboard colors of Lossing (including Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes and Minimoog), driven by intuitive, intelligent bass and drums.
Artistically directed by the renowned Robert Sadin (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Sting), Blaser's latest expression as a leader revels in the possibility of free improvisation which emanates as much from the influence of Stravinsky and Morton Feldman as it does high-grooving swing and blues. The diversity of the album is exemplified by the unpredictable, increasing tumult of 'Missing Mark Suetterlyn', the breezy almost Ellingtonian swing of 'Temporarily', the dark Bartokian spaciousness of 'Umbra' and then riotous, improv-fusion-spirited 'The First Snow'.
Blaser thrives on continually developing and communicating new expressions in improvisation, keen for audiences to discover and appreciate the trombone in other forms. Spring Rain clearly displays that intent with an immersive soundworld which rewards with deeper understanding. He explains: “With this album I would like to show that the trombone can be melodic and have various forms of expression, and that I am not just interested in free jazz – you can't categorize my music in one space. I want people to know that there is jazz, blues, classical music, beautiful melodies and no boundaries."