June 15, 2024


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Music as a survival elixir! Fredy Studer and Hans Kennel at the Willisau Jazz festival 2018: Photos, Video

They try out something new, instead of breathing into the glow of their own past: the Swiss jazz pioneers Fredy Studer and Hans Kennel at the Willisau Jazz Festival.

Is a jazz musician old when you’re 70, like the Lucerne drummer Fredy Studer? Or if you’re going to be 80 years old like the Zug trumpeter Hans Kennel?

When they are on stage at the Willisau Jazz Festival this year – Fredy Studer last Saturday and Hans Kennel on Sunday – they have every reason to breathe the glow of their own past. Starting in the 1970s, they initiated new musical trends in this country, after they had played together in their early days with the Swiss group Jazz Rock Experience.

Trumpeter Hans Kennel, born in Schwyz in 1939, was at the beginning of new folk music in Switzerland with The Alpine Experience or Alphorn Quartet Mytha, a movement that combined folklore with jazz and experiment. Fredy Studer, in turn, became a pioneer of European electric jazz with the Lucerne OM.

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Keep moving

Especially in the case of Fredy Studer, one has first in Willisau (as it turns out: completely unjustified) quiet concerns that a kind of heroic show would prevail. For the festival under the title “Now’s the Time” not only a box in dignified black appeared with two solo albums of the drummer, but also a comprehensive biographical book. But at the drummer’s concert, it quickly becomes clear that someone at work who wants one thing above all else is here to go on. “Actually, I was never interested in solo playing,” Studer told a friend before his solo appearance. “The fact that we musicians are not alone in making music makes us literati and visual artists jealous!” But after a first successful solo concert in 2013 in Willisau, he was nevertheless gripped by the solo drumming game.

In Willisau now on Saturday listened to what Fredy Studer worked on rhythms, developed, invented. His one-hour performance started with exactly the same piece that opens his double LP: “InPuls”. A fast, easy swinging rhythm on cymbals sounded. Soon the toms came to it. It grooved.

This was just the program in the performance – rarely Studer devoted himself to the pure sound of percussion and avoided everything that would sound like a Pierre Favre, the most famous solo drummer in Switzerland.

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Panorama of the grooves

Fredy Studer delivered a panorama of different, often very creatively conceived grooves. He put together in concert the tracks separated on plate with their different conceptual ideas to an uninterrupted séance. Even if the whole acted something as a mere sequence of passages: In each case, Studer managed a coherent dramaturgy. A lot of surprising things happened. “I play in my new quartet Wood & Brass with musicians who could be my children or grandchildren,” says Hans Kennel before his performance. Trumpeter Silvan Schmid, trombonist Phil Powell and the cellist with the pseudonym Cégiu really bring fresh wind into Kennel’s chamber music-sounding ensemble. Quite apart from that, Kennel does not see himself today as a representative of the new folk music. “That’s finished, I do not want to think backwards. Now is 2018. »

Although the Alphorns have not quite disappeared; and in the program there is also a popular Schwyzer cow series. But one senses the eternal inventor Kennel, who spent two years looking for the right cellist for the quartet. “Because I play with such young people now, the next song is called Generation Dance,” says Kennel at the concert. Everything is there that characterizes his work today. At the beginning, it also sounds like new e-music, later jazz: over a cello-bordun-tone, the brasses play with swinging phrasing, which reminds that Kennel played Hardbopjazz before his folk music exploration. Hans Kennel tells in his announcements of old companions like Bruno Spoerri or Mani Planzer (the latter died long ago). And then you realize the 79 years – as Reflektiertheit. In conversation, Kennel tells of what the music meant to him, how she accompanied him alongside his other existence as owner of a company for herbal tea. “It is essential for me to be able to make music. In times when I did not play anymore, I was in crisis. ”


Fredy Studer also regards his own percussion music as something existential. Two of the pieces on his LPs were created relatively unplanned, background was the death of a good friend of Studer. “Rusty sky” is one of the tracks. Studer is scratching on a gong. That sounds pretty bleak. Studer says that he likes to quote the Austrian poet and musician Georg Kreisler, while thinking about the last things in life: “To explain everything would be like trying to explain Germany to my dog. That simply exceeds his imagination. ”

Studer sees music as an elixir of life. A means to cope with life: “Friends, art and humor help you not to go insane.” And so he also plays in Willisau his rhythms on his yellow Gretsch drums. Undoubtedly, he will continue to work on drum beats in the future. “It never stops researching music! You could be ten thousand years old and you still have work to do!»

Lieferte ein Panorama unterschiedlichster, oft kreativ erdachter Grooves: Fredy Studer in Willisau. Foto: Marcel Meier, Jazzfestival Willisau

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