Mathias Rissi


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Part of a projected four-part series referencing the elements (air, water, fire, and earth), this powerful recording is a sharply focused triumph of spirit. The members of the trio -- all of whom are Swiss -- have been performing together at least since the late '70s, and it is not surprising that they sound as tight as they do. Mathias Rissi is little known but those who recognize his name might identify him as leader of the highly innovative Q4 Orchestra. He has a spectacular command of his horn, with notes cascading like water gushing from a faucet. It is humorless fare, which is a shame, because the saxophonist is so talented. The string bass-less rhythm section of Guerino Mazzola and Heinz Geisser is a perfect match, as these two have played together often -- and it shows. Rissi seems never to run out of ideas, bouncing off the groundwork laid by his colleagues. Even the slower pieces are performed powerfully, and Rissi exudes virility even if he lacks (barely) the overbearing locomotive quality of, say, a Peter Brotzmann. Rissi's fat tone, prodded by Geisser's in-your-face percussion and supported by Mazzola's debt to Cecil Taylor, mark the saxophonist and the trio as a unit with something important to contribute.