Irène Schweizer Live at Taktlos

This is a reissue of the first album by the Swiss Intakt label, a set of duos and trios recorded at the very first Taktlos Festival in Zürich. That’s enough to make this CD a historic landmark, but what really matters is that the music sounds fresher than ever 21 years after it was recorded. The three long tracks find pianist Irène Schweitzer working in turn with the vocalist Maggie Nicols, bassist/singer Joëlle Léandre and trombonist George Lewis. Think of Lewis as in a sense another vocalist, and what you get is three different skits on the conventions of singer-with-piano-accompaniment, with genial assistance from the differently wacky drummers Günther "Baby” Sommer and Paul Lovens. No one seems especially worried about (non)idiomatic purity, and the music sounds all the better for it, jumping comfortably from over-the-top theatrics to groovy South Africanised jazz. At the album’s end is an exquisite coda, like a sorbet after a full meal: a duet between Maggie Nicols and (on piano) the saxophonist Lindsay Cooper, in which they trash three jazz standards within 50 seconds. Recommended. (Intakt)