“Top album of the year 2019” – Jazz in Europe
“If you are in a hurry, go slowly” – this Chinese proverb has been set aside on the Swiss composer and drummer Gregor Lisser‘s On Eleven, his debut album with the Gregor Lisser Double Quartet. Lisser explores how deceleration can be expressed musically, in complex as well as thrilling and catchy ways, across the album‘s seven compositions and the arrangement of Coleman‘s “Lonely Woman“. Even the title he‘s given this first release, On Eleven, hints at the artistic essence of the album. It‘s a colloquial expression meaning “to go on foot“. And true enough, the exceptional Swiss musician found the inspiration for all of his compositions during long nature walks.
“Speed has become the mantra of our age. At the same time, slowness can sparkle with unparalleled wonder“ said the artist. But if anyone is expecting to find a sense of solemn monotony in his compositions, the rousing album opener “State Of Mind” will soon set them straight!
Perhaps provocatively, Lisser sees himself as “sculpting time with an instrument – a drummer who divides time into regular or irregular sections“. Are these merely the fantasies of a young musician? Not in the least! Rather, it is the description of a highly penetrating mental and musical engagement with the subject of deceleration; of that serenity which inevitably descends on the listener when they hear music intensively. Each of the eight pieces is based on a formative emotionality or affection, be it love, gratitude, state of mind, rebirth, despair or even grief.
With the Gregor Lisser Double Quartet, Lisser has lent shape to his artistic vision. He had already begun to form the idea during his studies at the Bern University of the Arts; a classical string quartet playing together with a jazz quartet, including a lead trumpet. A group that could explore the many nuances of sound found in that field of tension between classical and jazz. The unique appeal of this formation lies not least in the very different volumes generated by the two lineups. In Lisser‘s arrangements, the finely inscribed sounds of the strings are interwoven with the much louder rhythm section and trumpet to form a completely new and three-dimensional soundscape. In his compositions, one can tell that he held every single musician clearly in his “cognitive ear” during the writing process. Each sound seems perfectly tailored for his fellow musicians: Dave Blaser (tpt), Michael Haudenschild (p), André Pousaz (b), Vincent Milliou (vn), Samuel Jungen (vn), Adrian Häusler (va), and Raphael Heggendorn (cello). With this young group of top-class musicians from the Greater Bern area, Gregor Lisser serves up the perfect balance between individual jazzy improvisation and classically composed arrangements.
On Eleven is music which allows you to feel the vastness, that gives you the room to breathe – that provides equal nourishment for the mind and the soul. It lets you forget time by making time come alive!