Christoph Irniger, tenor saxophone
Stefan Aeby, piano
Dave Gisler, guitar
Raffaele Bossard, bass
Michi Stulz, drums
The quintet Pilgrim, founded by Zurich based tenor saxophonist Christoph Irniger, has become over the years one of the most exciting ensembles in young European Jazz. After the highly praised group’s latest studio recording ‘Italian Circus Story’, Pilgrim – driven by enthusiasm and inventiveness – presents the vibrant live album ‘Big Wheel’. Pilgrim plays full of verve, with plenty of room for spontaneity and improvisation and demonstrates on these recordings impressively their pulsating music. Pilgrim’s approach needs to prove itself over and again, and has to constantly develop – The Big Wheel. On the continuum of intentionally persecuting something pre-planned and letting it happen the group clearly and strongly tends to the latter. It leaves each member in a state of mutual trust in each other’s originality and experience. The accompanying soundtrack oscillates between enigmatic reflection and wild eruptions, although the band creates a dense, all-round sound which is hard to categorise.
Compositional pre-setting is just a tool. It has to prove itself applied in various degrees of openness as well as the right ratio of control and letting go. For Pilgrim finished musical notes are no more than a heading, the subject of an unwritten story or a door leading to another free musical space. No matter which musician takes up a subject, each tells the story differently. What cannot be enforced or imposed in deliberately controlled action leaves its traces in subconscious processing. It can surface again and crop out in differently maturated qualities. The surprising turning points in Pilgrim’s music indicate that this is not wishful thinking or platitude. It ensures that the group’s playing remains sharp and really happening.
The five members of the group, which was formed in 2010, come from different parts of Switzerland. They also play in various other groups, throughout the world, and already in their short careers they have had the opportunity to play with and be taught by jazz greats such as Dave Douglas, Nasheet Waits, Dave Liebman and Joey Baron.
“People who know about jazz say Christoph Irniger is one of them most promising musicians in contemporary Swiss jazz at the moment.” (Jazzthetik)