European über pianist Irene Schweizer teams up with stalwart drum king Günter Sommer for a concert program of thrills, chills, and spills. Recorded in 1987 in Zurich, the set clocks in at a mere 49 minutes, but that duration is enough to wow a listener into submission. This is improvisation as song, march, and carnival music from the human soul. Schweizer explores her long history in music, from the classical ministrations of her influences like Schubert and Chopin as well Rachmaninov to her early jazz heroes like Bud Powell and Art Tatum to the later improv pioneers like Cecil Taylor, Mary Lou Williams, and perhaps even Andrew Hill or Randy Weston. Her style, however, with its clipped ostinato and riveting little digs into the harmonic balance of any tune, setting it just off kilter enough to turn it into something else at will, is all her own. In this manner she resembles her peer Misha Mengelberg. Her harmonic sense is based on attack rather than any kind of timbral analysis -- timbral adventurousness is more like it. On "Monte Morenzo," composed by Sommer (or, at least initiate by him) she goes after the drummer in a flurry of clustered notes and tones, often quoting 32nd note figures from the heart of B flat and carrying them all the way over to Dsus7, echoing each note and tone between. Hands fly, drums clatter against the pianist flourishes, and music is suddenly everywhere. When she enters the blues briefly near the middle of the tune for a series of percussive progressions on the I-Iv-V, all hell breaks loose and we wonder what we're in the middle of! Here, the aggression and Sommer's unbelievably fluids rimshots take over, cat fighting their way into some kind of sonance by the tune's end. And there is so much more. This is a short date, but one that will leave you -- like the audience here -- clamoring for more.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek