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Stefan Rusconi

@ the PizzaExpress Jazz Club
17 November 2011

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The Swiss band Rusconi (Stefan Rusconi, piano/ Fabian Gisler, bass/ Claudio Strüby, drums) samples some forbidden fruit! The music of “Sonic Youth” alternates with instinctive sureness between noisy capers and lyrical dissonance, and it goes without saying that one is initially a little sceptical about the idea of reworking it as jazz. Does it make sense? How is it going to sound? The opening track, “Sunday,” on what is Rusconi’s fourth album, “It’s a Sonic Life” (Sony Music Germany), is played almost note-for-note like the original. At first, anyway! Doesn’t that sound a bit plodding and stolid? But this reaction soon gives way to a sense of relief: The three musicians don’t try to conjure up a big jazz band; they don’t drag soloists onstage who attempt to outdo the guitars and feedbacks of the New York rockers with saxophones and trumpets, trombones and clarinets. On the contrary: the sound here is simple and clear, light and floating – in that order. At the end of the piece, the listener responds not with scepticism or relief but with unbridled enthusiasm.

Rusconi approach the songs of the New York sound pirates from very different angles. They adapt the music, paraphrase it or even go so far as to simply imagine it. The result includes pieces with a character of their own, pieces that fit seamlessly into the seductive hybrid world of alternative rock and jazz. Notwithstanding all the intermittent ecstasy, the sound itself remains crystal-clear throughout, always precise and light as air. It’s as if a certain amount of light were seeping through in between the notes, so that one the original songs regularly shimmer through. Rusconi respond to “Sonic Youth’s” complex structures with great simplicity, which is just the right strategy. Neither do they break the songs down, nor do they justify them for a jazz audience. Instead, they casually reinterpret jazz in the spirit of rock music.

Stefan Rusconi

Claudio Strüby



One Up Down Left Right

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