Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Stade is Freewheeling
Stade's latest album, Freewheel, represents a cross cultural coming together for musicians from Switzerland, France, and the United States. Featuring Pierre Audetat and Christophe Calpini (Stade) as well as French trumpet player Erik Truffaz, New York based free guitarist Elliott Sharp, and American-Swiss harmonica player, Gergoire Maret this is a project that's been in the works for nearly five years. Brought together after several get together's way back in 2004 and 2005, this mostly improvised set is what happens when you take jazz and turn it sideways with the aid of electronics and acoustic musicians.
Serving as a sort of heir to Miles Davis' electric works, Stade takes an impressive stab at the electronic side of improvised jazz. The results, for the most part, are an impressive display of chops on everyone's part. Technically, this album shouldn't work. It's almost sacrilegious to take something as fundamentally traditional and mix in things like synths and sequencers but here Stade is doing just that and making it work. That being said, the electronics that are used at no point over power Freewheel, in fact if you didn't know better you probably wouldn't even know that they were involved at all.
While the electronics on the record tend to take a back seat, Calpini's drumming does not and it is simply superb leading the group around all kinds of time signatures and tempos. Truffaz's trumpet is equally as brilliant and brings a sassy, sexy side to the work. When it's all put together it ends up being a beautiful piece of improvised jazz with squiggles of technology sprinkled in for color. Freewheel is a simply magnificent record. It's a colorful imaginative work whose ten songs are breezy and bright and sound as if they took weeks to prepare. It's amazing to think that Freewheel was all thrown together and played on the fly with only slight edits being made to the recordings; it's truly a testament to the abilities of all the musicians involved. A dazzling record, Freewheelis a testament to the beauty of jazz improvisation and the musicians who play it.