:: Pierre Favre Ensemble

Frank Kroll ss. Bkl • Samuel Blaser tb • Philipp Schaufelberger g • Beat Hofstetter ss • Sascha Armbruster as • Andrea Formenti ts • Beat Kappeler bs • Wolfgang Zwiauer bg • Bänz Oester b • Pierre Favre dr, perc.

This ten piece ensemble sounds wonderful due to the thoughtful, engaging music that Mr. Favre has written. The music is more orchestral sounding with warm, well conceived harmonies and songs with different sections. “Vreneli ab em Guggisberg” has the five saxists stretching their notes out at the beginning but later has the horns playing somber, lovely chords together.

Fotos: Hubl Greiner

Even when Favre plays solo as on “One for Makaya”, his playing has a nice melodic tinge. Guitarist Schaufelberger often plays tasty licks along with the rhythm team while the horns swirl superbly around him. Different horn players get a chance to stretch out and solo here and there, most notably Samuel Blaser’s ever- enchanting trombone.

Every piece shows off a different aspect of Pierre Favre’s composing abilities. “As Far as That Goes…” reminds me of British folk-rock with elegant melodies at the center. Favre provides kaleidoscopic harmonies for the horns on “Anapana” while he plays exquisite brushes sewing the entire piece together subtly.

Considering that Mr. Favre is most well known as a drummer or percussionist, his playing is rarely featured here. It is his splendid, mature writing that makes this disc so charming. The last piece, “Wrong Name” recalls some of the better arranging by Graham Collier with layers of swirling and interlocking reeds and brass. For those of you who dig inventive music, we have another winner.

Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, New York, USA, November 2010

This ensemble, led by the brilliant Swiss percussionist Pierre Favre,

is a group with a fluctuating set of players. Favre uses this ongoing project to pursue his
Compositional and orchestral interests, which on Le Voyage have led him to assemble a ten-piece chamber orchestra comprising six horns, two basses, guitar and percussion.

The moods and atmospheres explored in the compositions here shift and flow in surprising directions. In many places the voicings and instrumental textures are reminiscent of Gil Evans, or even some of Duke Ellington’s larger works such as his sacred music of Far East Suite. In other places the listener is brought into very dubdued and introspective free jazz territory. In still other places the work of Poulenc or Milhaud comes to mind. „ Vreneli ab em Guggisberg“ even explores a traditional but still popular Swiss folksong, and the final track „ Wrong Name „ alludes to Renaissance dance music a tone point.

While the ensemble is drummer-led and all but one oft he compositions are credited to Favre, drums and percussion are not featured here, and there are numerous extended ensemble passages with little or no drum accompaniment. The one Exception is „One for Makaya“, a brief solo percussion statement in tribute tot he South African drummer Makaha Ntshoko, who ha had a presence in Switzerland going back to his period of exile in the 1960s. Here Favre uses tuned tom-toms and light cymbal work to create an impressionistic swirl of rhythm and color, which then quicklyfades away to nothing .

The only fully improvised piece is „Attila es-tu là ?“ which conjures a thick, ominous mood; in many other places there’s an ECM-like aesthetic, which is not surprising in that Favre has recorded many times fort hat label.

Perhaps the most striking instrumental performance comes from Philipp Schaufelberger, whose brilliant guitar noodlings dart elusively around the edges oft he arrangements, as if they are coded signals sent to the ensemble from some remote location.

Pierre Favre’s music defies all classification: as a percussionist and composer. He belongs ton o one school of thought or prectice, and he follows no formula in his creativity. He seems to hear musical sounds as they move in all directions simultaneously, and his purpose as band leader ist o trac these movements while opening a path fort he listemer to follow.

Alan Waters