The immediate impulse is to press replay
Tomas Sauter, known heretofore as a fine guitarist, leads a quartet—Ralph Alessi, trumpet and bass; Luzius Schuler, electric keyboards; Dominik Burkhalter, drums—as an electric bassist on the intriguing album, Double Life.
For those who are always looking for, and expecting, new sounds, this session will shock in how retro it sounds. The overall vibe is, superficially, 'soft groove' atmospheric background music projecting the image of low lights, glasses of wine and an overstuffed sofa—and it can be listened to in that way. The tunes/themes/grooves are simple harmonically, usually starting with a section which oscillates between two tonal areas supported by repetitive bass figures and light drumming, overlaid with electric keyboard or trumpet solos, leading to a turnaround and starting over. The overall energy level is low, tempos are moderate with just enough bump to tap your foot, and the drumming is unobtrusive.
However, the description above, which might indicate less than engrossing music (who needs Barry White lite?), is only a deception and listening a little more deeply uncovers layers of deeper musicianship.
First, the sound that Sauter uses as his bass voice is sharp, centered and the antithesis of flabby, but with a deep overdrive zip. Second, the bass vamps many times use phrase lengths that play against the meter, complicating the rhythmic feel; the downbeat of the bass line intro of "Heat Conversion" cannot be found until everyone else has entered. Third, Sauter is just as sensitive a player on the bass as he is on guitar, and manages to float, doing some quite complicated fingering at times, while he provides a deep bottom for Schuler and Alessi.
Both Alessi's and Schuler's solos jump in and out of both the rhythm and the harmony enough to surprise the ear without shaking the free from the groove. For his part, Burkhalter plays lightly, but incisively, providing an infectious rhythmic groove without being overbearing.
Quite a few tracks have melodies that will stick in the mind and the cumulative effect is to be drawn in, slowly but surely. The flame of intensity is of a slow burn, of glowing embers, rather than that of a blowtorch. A standout track is "As Night Falls" which is pure sound painting, with Alessi atmospherically floating above a somewhat ominous bass line that is softened by luxurious keyboard harmony. Alessi originally studied bass as well as trumpet and "Deep Conversation" finds Alessi joining Sauter on bass in an improvised musical discussion which is a most appropriate ending.
The album's hour playtime flies by without a moment that feels rushed, and the immediate impulse is to press replay, to listen more closely, if not to let the grooves do their work.
Budd Kopman, Jazzpublisher, All about Jazz / US, 12.2014
Highly intelligent statements outside the mainstream, which have what it takes to revolutionize the musical world.
An extraordinary musical journey. Exciting Basslines, fast Drumbeats, spherical Soundscapes and catchy lead guitars. Masterwork!!
His guitar belongs to the hottest ones in the Swiss jazz and avantgarde scene.
Kulturtipp /CH 1.2011
A guitar-bass-drum-trio is a setting that can musically denote everything from traditional jazz up to noise, ambient and more. The sound-massifs of the Swiss band Tomas Sauter Tranceactivity make you forget the actual orchestration very quickly.
Tomas Sauter’s trio dates back to his days at the Jazz University of Lucerne. The fact that he has been playing with the bassplayer Urban Lienert and the drummer Christoph Staudenmann for fifteen years is what makes the music of this band possible. Such complex music, with sound experiments, new forms and free improvisations could not happen without mutual confidence between the musicians. Especially not with this quality. The new record is entitled „Findling“, a title which is more than a manifesto, after all, a foundling is a single huge stone which was brought to its final destination by glacier movements. „The first release „Fluo“ (1998) was stylistically a lot wider than „Findling“, Sauter says. „The second CD „Flora“ was already more consequent in terms of the unique sound cosmos of the trio. Through the way In which the music Is conceived, the collective playing of the band is more important for the music than the individual performance of a soloist.
As opposed to a „normal“ guitar trio the use of effect devices and loops brings the special character to the sound of „Tranceactivity“.
„Tranceactivity“ is a typical creative band in which we have to rehearse and experiment a lot to get to a result like the record „Findling“, Sauter illustrates. „In order for a band like this to work, musicians who follow the process and who want to actively create the music are needed.“
Neither are technical demonstrations important to the guitarist in this musical conception, nor is standing in front of a rhythm section as a soloist. As the main composer he specifies the direction and usually, the tunes he brings into rehearsals end up sounding just the way he had imagined the would. „On the other hand it can happen that a tune doesn’t work and drops out of the repertory“, he mentions. „Usually I have a large stock of new compositions and a piece that wouldn’t work in one band could work very well in a different setting!“
The recording process – it’s hard to imagine considering the result – was a pretty quick one. In terms of the moods everything was set before the recording session but they experimented with different dynamics. „Findling is basically a live recording. The only thing we recorded as overdubs are very few percussion sounds“ Sauter explains. „All the orchestral sometimes confusing loops were recorded live at the studio during the performance of the trio.“
The array of sounds is impressive: there Is everything from a clean jazz guitar sound to noises which make it hard to be able to determine the instrument. „The spectrum of sounds is an important aspect for our music. In fact a guitar trio is a rather intimate lineup“ Sauter says „which by the use of loops can be concentrated to orchestral dimensions. Our music oscillates beetwen frugality and condensation.“
Tomas Sauter rightly calls his band a „sound laboratory“. The predominance of composition and form which is typical of jazz music is broken up. A single sound can become a guiding theme and establish a mood. Many of Sauter's compositions use modal harmonies or are atonal. To him it’s more important to build up an arc of suspense than to use harmonic cadences: „We go on musical journeys of discovery and we break with away from the usual aesthetic conventions. Therefore we have merged attributes from contemporary music and rock with jazz conceptions and happened to create a unique style.“
„I studied most of the jazz guitar players from Charlie Christian to Django Reinhardt, Jim Hall, John Abercrombie, with whom I studied, to contemporary classical composers. The Jimi Hendrix Experience and David Torn are the most Important influences for us. Hendrix is a role model to me for his mix between well structured and ecstatic parts. And there we, Urban and Christoph as rhythm freaks who like most complex beats and I pursue –- the same aim.“
Frugality and condensation
It’s been nine years since Tomas Sauter released the last record with his project Tranceactivity. Now the new record „Findling“ is here but the long period since the last release doesn’t seem very long to the author. The bustling Swiss has lived in New York City in the meantime, released the sophisticated record „Indian Summer“ in duet with Daniel Schläppi as well as a quartet recording, accepted a lectureship at the music university of Bern, founded a label, „travelled through India by bicycle and became a father“. And these are only excerpts of the creative work of the guitarist and composer. Sauter's trio with the bass player Urban Lienert and the drummer Christoph Staudenmann is everything but a normal guitar trio, Tranceactivty is „a sound laboratory“, Sauter says. And in there it seethes tremendously: „The repertory reaches from trashy LoFi-grooves, to spaced out odd meter grooves to free jazz as far as to roaring distortion revelries“. There’s no way to describe more accurately what goes on in this trio. The musicians work with acoustic and electronic resources; they work with complexity and simplicity. Expressive and soft sounds, spherical and chaotic elements find their way into the concept of the band with a focus on atmospheric sounds. Sauter's guitar rig contributes a lot to this aspect since he uses effect devices like a „resonance filter, ring modulator, delay, whammy and bit crusher“ apart from a custom composed stereo setup with loop machines. Sauter uses those alternative sound possibilities with great awareness. „I composed most of the pieces and did a preproduction in my home studio to determine the sound design. For the record “Findling“ I experimented a lot with different sounds and grooves. Based on my sketches we developed versions that are well-suited to the band during countless rehearsals. On all previous CDs we also played compositions by Christoph Staudenmann. Besides we also like to play free improvisations which depict interesting moods and contrast with the composed material.“ Freely improvised or well rehearsed: Tranceactivity is a radical sound-monolith, which like a foundling, an erratic, wanders through wide dimensions.
A radical sound-monolith
Tomas Sauter Tranceactivity is not just another guitar trio, but a most interesting one which incorporates electronics, loops and alienations. In this way strange worlds which seem to be somehow familiar are created. The former Abercrombie student mainly bears the consistent interplay between guitar, bass and drums in mind – and not only shining dazzling effects. Some pieces appear like intros or short interludes and are reminiscent of movie soundtracks. Others come along like abstract musical images. Then trashy insertions follow. Sauter's sound team evaporates the music to the essentials.
CD rating: Very recommendable
Sauter evaporates the music to the essentials –
A most interesting guitar trio
His playing counts among the most thrilling in the Swiss jazz and avant-garde scene. And when Tomas Sauter touches the strings of his guitar half of Europe is listening. With his trio „Tranceactivity“ he ventures the balancing act that is heard in the name of the band. In exchange with the bass of Urban Lienert and Christoph Staudenmann’s drumming he zaps from avant-core to groove sounds, from contemplative ambient textures to exuberant excursions.
Highest CD Rating: five out of five stars
Frank von Niederhäusern, Kulturtipp /CH 1.2011
Impressive balancing act
omas Sauter’s electric band „Tranceactivity“ presents basic stuff on their new album „Findling“. The guitarist and composer Tomas Sauter with his bandmembers Urban Lienert on bass and Christoph Staudenmann are clearly looking for the meditative side and they want to put he listener in trance. At the highest level. It’s great how Sauter’s fingers fly virtuoso over the strings of his guitar. The drummer booms ecstatically in the background on all 14 instrumental tracks of the record which lasts just under one hour. The music is contemplative, strongly experimental. Released on the label „Catwalk“ and distributed by JaKla/Alive. Those who think the CD is not worth listening to are not into the modern, contemporary music world. The precise grooves, the fantastic loops, the rhythmic low level passages will highly impress many insiders. You bet!
Especially the calm passagey are an Invitation to extended strolls in ones fantasy world. Here one can relax and imagine the sea and maybe untouched nature. While doing so „Tranceactivity“,with the new album, Is not only always rooted to the soul, archaic but always aesthetic. Nobody can say that Tomas Sauter and his fellows didn’t learn their skills. They are simply masters of their profession. And as precisely as the drums of Christoph Staudenmann constantly enters the ear canals, so does Sauter’s guitar voraciously want to lead the music, and as relaxed does the electric bass provide the matching rhythmic background.
The record sets highly intelligent statements outside the mainstream
Don’t let anybody say that modern music would only consist of pseudo sophisticated bands like „Silbermond“ and at its best Michael Jackson. No way! Tomas Sauter „Tranceactivity“ proves that there are such things as highly intelligent basic approaches outside the mainstream, which have what it takes to revolutionize the musical world. They don’t play dance hits; this is music for intellectuals. And nowadays especially those niches have to be developped. Because: Who wants to listen to a boring blarney of Shakira and whatever-it-is?
Tomas Sauter is a musical multitasker – various projects
Back to the subject: Tomas Sauter the highly professional musician, composer, arranger, has been on his path for years now. Whether in chamber music duets, experimental trios or jazz quartets. He is a creative sound explorer with no fear of contacts. He plays music hauntingly and with versatility. Some of his idols are: Villa Lobos, Hendrix, Metheny, Frisell, Scofield. His many musical talents and the restelss search for he perfect sound alone gives him something smooth and very charming. The Catwalk label does well to enter into a long time commitment. His intense and wide musical array produces an incredible progression, which, as mentioned above, has what it takes to revolutionize the modern musical world of insiders. The Catwalk release „Findling“ by Tomas Sauter Tranceactivity will be heard and liked. Not everything is „DJ BoBo“ and „Fettes Brot“! Fortunately!
Christopher Dömges, Suite 101.de/DE 22.12.2010
Highly intelligent statements outside the mainstream, which have what it takes to revolutionize the musical world.
The trio of Tomas Sauter, Urban Lienert and Christoph Staudenmann on their album „Findling“ plays a mixture of classic jazz paired with exceptional groove, rock and lounge passages. It starts with an ambient piece which invites the listener to an extraordinary journey with its digital noises and hallucinatory sounds. It is followed by the actual „real“ first piece: „Sky Bar“.A masterwork! Exciting bass lines, fast drumbeats, spherical soundscapes and a catchy lead guitar.
Therefollows a progressive, hardly imitable rhythm with digital noises once more. The abstract rhythm develops very slowly into an almost rocky tune. There’s a lot of motion in it! And it goes on like this throughout the whole record. Should one think that nothing new would come from further progress, the three gentlemen surprise over and over again. The tunes which have an evident structure are clearly my favourites. The ambient sounds or the disharmonic free jazz parts are pretty interesting and nicely done but they disturb in between the real good groovy tracks like for example „Smalk“. What disturbs me most are the Lo-Fi noises which are deliberately used but sound to me like encoding errors.
Nevertheless: This is a superb album! „Sky Bar“, „Smalk“ and „Mosaik“ alone make the record worth listening to.
Nico Steckelberg, Hörspiegel.de/DE 25.12.2010
Findling is the name of Tomas Sauter Tranceactivity's new record. The trio was able to create such unique musical identity over the past fifteen years as one only rarely hears. The three Swiss musicians around the leader Tomas Sauter (guitar, loops) establish an original tonal microcosm consisting of Jazz and Electronics with trance-like elements. The tunes are at first supported by the drummer Christoph Staudenmann who is able to play even the most complex rhythms with the greatest of ease that one can only marvel at. Urban Lienert completes the rhythm and delivers the harmonic base of the interweaving sounds on which Tomas Sauter can run riot and complete the music with his guitar playing. Thus sound collages from a different world emerge, innovative but always of almost traditional aesthetic and perfect interaction. Tomas Sauter Tranceactivity succeeded to record a timeless masterpiece. It is to be hoped that this will be rewarded by the audience. Recommendation!
CD rating: Very recommendable
Unique musical identity
One pulls out the overlooking peace classic "Jazz Is Dead Since '69" after a long time and enjoys the rare mixture of jazz and electronics which gives the old genre actual relevance and from which computer music takes Its disco and plastic fug – and a few days after „Findling“ drifts in. Tomas Sauter's ensemble is just as amazing as Alex Gunia was at that time. What exciting music – not muzak! – can be fabricated by a real jazz artist with an open mind and modern technique.
Tranceactivity – the artist figures under various names in different settings as every open minded listener can learn on his website – have recorded one of the few albums on which one will truly continually discover previously totally unheard-of music.
This does not necessarily have to have something to do with ambient arbitrariness as a confession for one’s own lack of imagination, like „Smalk“ might announce just to appear to be sound in its context. Sauter's guitar loops don’t inspire the band to do loopings but to carefully develop intense sound textures by means of minimal displacement. Therefore especially in the beginning the very vicious „Lava“ does not at any point spout out of the volcano's every crack but instills euphoria similar to „Mosaik“ in low but steady doses into the ear of the listener. Only „Mod“ truly seethes like „Bitches Brew“ a long time ago.
The rhythmic work doesn’t leave one breathless because it possibly evokes the superlative in the higher, faster or longer categories; the notorious devil also lies in the details, headphone listening is therefore a must That way one can hear the fabulous interlocking of drum and bass – and in general: The literal translation of this structure has long become a genre In itself which could well be applied in the case of „Findling“. Dancers as well as academics who haven't completely lost their fanatsy and who discard strict soberness should pay attention to this record. Those who like it noisy will get satisfaction by the short scratchy ending of „Nobody“. A record of consensus precisely because It makes no compromises?
Conclusion: Tranceactivity’s „Findling“ is as beautiful as the rare electric jazz that the old Miles would have played nowadays if he had quit drugs earlier. Tomas Sauter plays visionary music which should absolutely be on the shopping list of every polarised listener with an open mind.
Rating: twelve out of fifteen points
Andreas Schiffmann, PanProgTikum/D 1.2011
«Indian Summer is a wonderful recording.
Great compositions, and playing, from two players who create a beautiful sound together. Not only is the playing great, but the recorded sound of the instuments, makes it a pleasure to listen to. I hope to many times.»
John Abercrombie, December 2005
«Seit Jahr und Tag kooperieren der Bieler Gitarrist Tomas Sauter und der Berner Bassist Daniel Schläppi, und mittlerweile verstehen sie sich blind. Die Musik, die dabei entsteht, lässt Landschaften aufscheinen, weckt Assoziationen, lässt die Gedanken fliegen. Vielleicht ist der erste Tag des Frühlings schon vorbei, mit dieser Musik geniesst man ihn ein zweites Mal!»
CD-Tipp DRS 2, www.drs.ch, 04.2011
«The delicate, intimate and compelling Indian Summer, by the guitar/bass duo of Tomas Sauter and Daniel Schlaeppi, is a most welcome release in these closing days of summer. The very sound of the recording is sensuous and surprisingly live, given it’s a studio effort. Special care was taken in every step of the process, starting with the recording by Benoit Piccand in Switzerland and ending with the mixing and mastering Jan Erik Kongshaug at Rainbow Studios (of ECM fame) in Oslo, Norway.
Playing totally acoustic with only a few overdubs, Sauter and Schlaeppi create an atmosphere full of spontaneity, love of life, and the joy of making music. They are playing just for you, and together they play with a single musical mind that truly lightens the heart. As John Abercrombie is quoted in the liner notes as saying, ‹Not only is the playing great, but the recorded sound of the instruments makes it a pleasure to listen to. I hope to many times.›
The compositions, mostly by Sauter, plus one by Rodgers and Hart (‹I Didn’t Know What Time It Was›) and two short freer pieces, have a vaguely American feel. There are intimations of Big Sky, some country and blues licks, but mostly the music manages to convey openness, simplicity and generosity of spirit. There is not one shred of cynicism, pseudo-hipness or fake coolness here, despite the sometimes intricate harmony and melody lines.
Perhaps it is the unamplified acoustic (nylon and steel-string) guitar played with the fingers, and the equally natural bass sound. Perhaps it is the truly amazing total empathy that Sauter and Schlaeppi have, the way they pass the musical baton back and forth, or how they give the music such life. Perhaps it is the combination of the intimacy from just two instruments and the large sound stage that the recording produces. Perhaps it is the mixture of apparent precision with little slides and buzzes left in to be heard.
Whatever it is, this music is beguiling and seducing for every one of its seventy minutes. Highly recommended.»
Budd Kopman, Jazzpublisher, All about Jazz / US, 05.09.2006
Summer is still remembered, but rising fogs already let you have a presentiment of what is to come: indian summer. The music of Tomas Sauter (g) from Biel and the Bernese Daniel Schläppi (b) just sounds like this. Intimate and contemplative sounds far from any sentimentalism. Music which transfers the warmth of late summer into cold winter evenings. Quiet, yet intensive musical dialogues of two experts: better than sitting by the fireside.»
Beat Blaser, music editor at DRS 2, in Radiomagazin 04/2006
‹Indian Summer› speaks for itself and convinces with its quality. [...] The pieces on ‹Indian Summer› make it evident why Abercrombie was very pleased with it. The ‹contemporary chamber music› of Sauter and Schläppi sparkles with delight of playing, knows to please with its lyrical basic mood and unveils a deep musical understanding between the guitarist and the bassist. Indeed, with Sauter and Schläppi two people have found each other in the truest sense of the phrase. [...] The sound of the recording is warm, very distinct and extremely voluminous - it lets one forget the ‹frugality› of a duo instrumentation. The credit for this goes to Jan Erik Konshaug, the sound engineer of Oslo's Rainbow Studio. He is a internationally renowned authority. Thus, the ECM label has its recordings mixed there, for instance.»
Bieler Tagblatt, 01.29.2006
which is too well played te be just muzak. These compositions could be more than just one lesson in guitarartistry, and theory course for tuning.
Absolute favorite of mine ‹4000 Miles› (composed by Sauter) just popped out among compositions. A fine theme, in solo there is combined melody, dissonance, blues an bright sounds in upper register. Also cool bendings in ¼ time! Also involved is ‹rough› guitar plucking. At times a repeated section, where a guitar arpeggio an disorderly guitar sound is followed by contrabass player’s glissandos; this all tie the different parts of the composition together.
Another favorit solo of mine is in the composition ‹Flytoget› (composed by Sauter). Excellent guitar runnings over the top of simple tone shaking. In addition to that a melodic bass solo.» (translation by Timo Manelius, Kerava)
Jussi Huolman, Jazzrytmit/Finland, 18.05.2006
«Seventy minutes of acoustic mood music,
Bass player Daniel Schläppi is best known as an excellent jazz musician. Next sunday, though, he will play at the "Praxiskeller Rothrist" at a morning performance with guitarist Tomas Sauter in a program of chamber music. This might well turn out to be a special treat for all music lovers.
Daniel Schläppi from Bern on bass and Tomas Sauter from Biel on guitar present ‹short stories in contemporary chamber music›. Both artists have had their artistic training in jazz and can easily be counted among the best musicians in Switzerland on their respective instruments.
At the moment theiy are recording a CD for Radio DRS in Zurich and have booked a short tour in Switzerland with this material. On Sunday, February 13, at 11 AM at the Praxiskeller on Bernstrasse 81 in Rothrist there will be a morning performance with a program of contemporary chamber music.
At home in Europe's jazz clubs
Daniel Schläppi (born in 1968) can count about 270 concerts in Europe's most renowned jazz clubs. There are four CDs under his name as well as live concert recordings at the Radio-Studio in Zurich. He had had several concerts at the international "Leverkusener Jazztage" and the ‹Street-Live›-Festival Leverkusen, at the "Jazzfestspiele Bayreuth" as well as the jazz festivals of Mannheim and Cully. He also participated in the project ‹Suisse Diagonale› (an exchange with musicians from the french speaking part of Switzerland). Schläppi also was member of different groups and displays a great activity in playing concerts. Apart from this he stands out as a musician and composer.
In 1996 the "Zofinger Tagblatt" wrote about him: ‹The "kleine bühne zofingen" was turned into an intimate ‹Elite-Jazzclub› for a couple of hours on Saturday. The trio once more proved that it is among the best in Swiss jazz...›.»
Aargauer Zeitung, 11.02.2005
«Not jazz for a change, but chamber music
Bass player Daniel Schläppi from Bern and guitar player Tomas Sauter from Biel have their roots in a profound jazz education. They both have several years of performing with different groups at home and abroad to their credit. Recently they have founded a duet to present ‹short stories› in the setting of a ‹contemporary chamber music›. ‹Reduce to the max› is one common slogan in public relations, but it can also be attributed to the concert program of their ongoing tour with a stop at the Praxiskeller Rothrist last Sunday morning.
The duet as the smallest unity of interplay and a concept of chamber music next to jazz standards and originals with plenty of improvisation demands an extreme mutual understanding to optimize a quiet and lyrically soft kind of music, which also demands an intuitive understanding of unfamiliar ground, a long way from mainstream, by the audience. Tomas Sauter conjured up new and unfamiliar worlds of sound with only three different kinds of guitars (steel, nylonstring and a specially constructed baritone-guitar) and only subtle amplification and the double bass of Daniel Schläppi drew the contours of the music in an excellent and complementing way.»
Zofinger Tagblatt, 17.02.2005
«Mutual understanding in duet
«Very concentrated and personal duets.»
Budd Kopman, Jazzpublisher, All about Jazz / US, 06.2006
«The duet as the smallest unity of interplay and a concept of chamber music next to jazz standards and originals with plenty of improvisation demands an extreme mutual understanding to optimize a quiet and lyrically soft kind of music, which also demands an intuitive understanding of unfamiliar ground, a long way from mainstream.»
Preview Program Teatro Dimitri Verscio, 10.2005
Guitarist Thomas Sauter and bassist Daniel Schläppi «succeed in producing a very poetic and melodious debut with ‹indian summer› […]. The American guitar player John Abercrombie who answered the reception of a demo CD with a statement in which the adjectives ‹wonderful and beautiful› follow each other shortly, can be agreed with without hesitation.»
Der Bund, 01.19.2006
«Poetic debut CD»
The new CD,"Magic Carpet", by Tomas Sauter and his quartet is truly beautiful.
Great compositions, and playing throughout! Contemporary, sensitive, and intense music; a real group! I hope you enjoy it, as much as i have.
John Abercrombie/New York
This young Swiss guitarist’s quartet creates an ethereal soundscape not dissimilar to the Motian-Lovano-Frisell trio, perhaps a little more rugged, but it all gels very effectively.
Jazzwise / GB, 03.08
With «Magic Carpet» Tomas Sauter knots a magic carpet of a class by itself – and the group soars from free sound landscapes to groovy atonal buildings to even flying songs. It’s magic!
Swiss Radio DRS2
Guitarist Tomas Sauter, whose last release was the wonderful duo recording Indian Summer (Catwalk, 2006) with bassist Daniel Schlaeppi, now gives us a quite different sound and vision with Magic Carpet. As before, the sound is superb, having been recorded by Daniel Dettwiler and mixed and mastered by Jan Erik Kongshaug (of ECM fame).
For these compositions, Sauter has assembled a quartet consisting of reedman Domenic Landolf, bassist Patrice Moret and drummer Samuel Rohrer. Given the extra supporting resources, Sauter stretches out and plays electric as well as acoustic guitar on compositions that range from contemplative and introverted through sonic sound painting and into driving jamming.
While Indian Summer had a distinct emotional point of view, Magic Carpet varies considerably in the direction from which the intensity comes, as well as the kinds of images and emotions that are created. Given an album title that evokes ideas of mysterious powers, far away places and the exotic, tunes such as “Shift,” “Aladdin's Wonderlamp,” “Sinbad Sets Sail” and “Fragment,” as well as the title tune, fit right into the vibe.
Each tune creates distinct imagery and takes its time in setting up the sonic stage. “Shift,” which is played without a strong pulse and with shimmering harmony underneath Landolf's dry saxophone sound, has the feeling of being entirely an introduction, despite the thematic recapitulation. The exploration of this sound-space is continued with “Magic Carpet.” The thematic materials sound distantly related to the former tune, but with a bit of the sinister, or at least the unknown added in.
”Sinbad Sets Sail,” with its bass introduction that sets up the tune's feel, also has mystery and danger as its central emotion, while “Fragment,” on which Landolf uses the bass clarinet and is joined by Moret in unison, floats in dark empty space, with flashes of light injected by Sauter's acoustic finger-picking.
Interspersed between these tunes are “Yawney's Lines,” which evokes nothing but John Abercrombie in its twisted bebop-ish lines and the wicked groove that follows, and “Out Of Town,” that pits the different meters of its bass vamp and line against each other, after which Landolf really takes off.
The tenderness and sensitivity that marked Indian Summer has not been forgotten by Sauter. The last three tracks of the album, as well as “First Day In Spring,” bring to mind images that are more pastel and warmer. “117” feels like a bridge between the large, dark distances from before and the closer intimacy that follows.
The melody of “With Love In Veins” sounds related to “Shift” and “Magic Carpet,” but with a center and more flowing structure, while the title of “You Still Fascinate Me” might be referring to the reworked but familiar motive of the three previous tunes that appears once again.
Sauter is a very fine composer who has a lot to say with an ever growing musical and emotional palette.
All About Jazz/ US, 19.08.07
A young formation which places interaction into the center of their captivating activities and celebrates the common group sound in a masterly way.
Bird’s Eye Jazz Club
Guitarists often are narcissists; the more nimble their fingers are, the bigger, they believe, the attention payed them. The Bernese Tomas Sauter is not of this kind. His most striking quality lies in consistent omission of popular phrases.
The prominent feature of the quartet is its really impressive playing together which allows it a rich as well as a very intensive interplay between the diverse instruments. (...) Technically detached and completelyimmersed in his music, Sauter usually indicated the thematical lead.
Sauter belongs to a young generation of well trained Swiss jazz musicians who search for their own style and eventually also find it.
Swiss composer/guitarist Tomas Sauter has recorded in a wide variety of improvisational settings: quartets, trios, duos, even a group with him on electric bass. He has played both electric and acoustic guitars, but this album is something else: fully composed music played on classical guitar and baritone guitar. "Sunrise Magic" opens the set on classical guitar, a thoughtful, melodic composition that recalls Ralph Towner. That impression is reinforced by the only cover version on the album--the Rogers and Hart standard "My Romance"--which brings Towner's recent version of "My Foolish Heart" to mind. The baritone guitar makes its first appearance on "Shades and Shadows," its deep voice and broken chords making an effective contrast. The well-named "Labyrinth" winds its way through a variety of musical gestures, sounding very much like an inspired improvisation. It is easy to believe that the material was originally developed improvisationally. With its rapid chromatic cascades "The Hunted" creates a real sense of a chase. "Into the Blue" concludes on baritone with an almost Americana feel. Like the rest of the album it creates an atmosphere that belies the lack of improvisation: just inspired composition and performance.
Mark Sullivan www.minor7th.com, US, 10.2020
Die Musik des Gitarristen Tomas Sauter und des Bassisten Daniel Schläppi ist von einer Art, dass sie leicht übersehen oder überhört wird. Das liegt an ihrer Qualität. Sie drängt sich keinem auf, springt niemandem, wham bang, ins Gesicht. Kein Zufall, dass die beiden gleich bei ihrer ersten Zusammenarbeit, dem Album ‹Indian Summer› (2006), eine naturbezogen jahreszeitliche Metapher als Titel und einen Blütenzweig als Cover wählten. Sauter/Schläppi geht es ums Organische, um eine Kunst, die eher gewachsen ist als gemacht. Nimmt man sie wahr, scheint es, als wäre sie schon immer da gewesen, wie ein Stück Landschaft, das durch den besonderen Ausschnitt zur Kunst wird. Was, versteht sich, nur die halbe Wahrheit ist. Die andere besteht aus Arbeit, Erfindung, Technik, Erfahrung. In Sauters Gitarrenspiel schwingt die ganze Geschichte der Gitarre, inner- und ausserhalb des Jazz, von schnellfingerigen swingenden Pizzicati aus der Linie Charlie Christian-Wes Montgomery-John Scofield über versponnen Lyrisches aus der Schule Jim Hall-John Abercrombie-Bill Frisell (zumal die Folk-Einsprengsel des letzteren gleissen wiederholt auf), bis, selbstverständlich, zu Querschlägen und Elektrolandschaften in memoriam Jimi Hendrix.
Und doch ist, in seinen Kompositionen, in seinem Spiel, Sauter immer ganz himself. Nicht anders als Schläppi, der sich, ein Kuriosum, in seiner Musik ebenso mit Fundamentalem befasst wie ausserhalb (er ist promovierter Historiker, Fachgebiet: ältere Schweizer Geschichte). Den beiden ist in diesem Jahr ein besonders poetisch blühendes Duo-Album geglückt, ‹First Day in Spring›, eine subtile, behutsame Folge von ‹Stücken nach der Natur›, durchsetzt von kleinen Anekdoten. Und soeben haben sie die intime Introspektion ins Trio geweitet, durch den Zuzug des Drummers Jorge Rossy, dessen nerviges und feines Schlagzeug wir von der Zusammenarbeit mit Brad Mehldau kennen. Eine wunderbare Scheibe, mit Kabinettstücken wie der ‹Giant Steps›-Travestie ‹Minor And Major Steps› und, mir besonders lieb, herzergreifend Balladeskem. World class made in Switzerland.»
Peter Rüedi, Weltwoche, 27.10.2011