Irène Schweizer

Chicago Piano Solo

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Another strong effort from Irène Schweizer, this time recorded in solo at the famed Empty Bottle night club in Chicago, where the pianist performs a live set of eight originals and one tune by Don Cherry ("Togetherness One (First Movement)"). By this stage in her career, the pianist is able to stamp her muscular, rhythmic style on a range of influences. You can hear touches of stride, swing, bop, and world jazz, all superimposed by Schweizer's freestyle postmodern interpretations. Whether she performs inside the body of the instrument, as on "Stringfever," or simply plies a percussive repetitiveness, as on "So Oder So," there are original, enlightening delights throughout. Monk is an influence, too, and you can hear Schweizer's cautious choices of oddball handpicked notes as she negotiates "Circle." Continuing a trend in the '90s toward greater accessibility, these pieces nonetheless also incorporate some of her most adventurous strategies, with focused leaps, chordal thrusts, and dazzling virtuosity. There are reflective moments, too, as on the highly varied "Circle" and the somewhat introspective "Hüben Ohne Drüben." An important contribution to her already impressive discography, this recording should help to further cement Irène Schweizer's reputation as one of the most important piano improvisers of her time.

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