Heinz Geisser + Guerino Mazzola

Live at Le Classique
pfMentum PFMCD 26

Shattering the shibboleth that the Swiss are quiet, unassuming rule followers, are pianist Guerino Mazzola and percussionist Heinz Geisser – as they have in tandem during the past two decades, Their two extended improvisations on Live at Le Classique bristle with energetic ferocity with much more flow than ebb. Mazzola, who is also an academic at the University of Minnesota, and Geisser, who in the past has been part of aggregations with the likes of William Parker, appear to create these motifs with complete absorption. Spiritual relatives of Cecil Taylor or Borah Bergman on the keyboard as well as Han Bennink or Andrew Cyrille on drums respectively, the only puzzle about this enterprising performance from the two is why it took so many years from when it was recorded in a Japanese club in 2004 to release it on CD.

Crucially these sinewy tone examinations aren’t just activity and commotion for their own sakes. Each narrative has a singular shape that follows improvisation concepts: so that if the sequences inflate to unstoppable tension with scarce relief than that’s how the strategy has evolved. Throughout the polished keyboard narrative Mazzola’s polished dynamics are seemingly inexhaustible. Extending the themes further and further out without shattering them often at marathon runner’s speed, tremolo motions encompass earth-shaking Free Jazz expansions as well as swells and sways that also keep the tracks’ elaborations sweeping forward. On the opposite side, except for a brief exploration of unaccompanied rolls, pops and patterning near the completion of the almost 40-minute “Jumbo’s Flight”, Gessier’s role is that of commentary and rhythmic thrust. And it calls forth a response of intensely torqued glissandi from the pianist.

With both players’ motions almost physically visual in their multiphonic vigor propelling multiple note layers every which way, it’s easy to almost miss the cerebral underpinning of the creativity. Yet from Mazzola’s descriptive lower-pitched strategy in the introductions, through kinetic textural unspooling of patterns from both and the concluding solid blocks of diminishing chords and rebounds, it appears as if this live date couldn’t be improved in any way. Geisser’s and Mazzola’s Swiss bromide negation in the musical sense leads to a notable disc.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Umemoto’s Delight 2. Jumbo’s Flight

Personnel: Guerino Mazzola (piano) and Heinz Geisser (percussion)