“One small adjustment goes a long way”, is one of the many great lessons I got from the legendary piano teacher Sophia Rosoff.
In culinary terms a similar idea is that you don’t need many ingredients or a lot of preparation to make a delicious dish.
This helps to illustrate the success of countless musical situations and in particularly some memorable recordings induced by the the wisdom of Tom Gsteiger. Such is the case in “Of The Cuff”.
In this occasion, two great contemporary tenor man: Bill McHenry, originally from Maine, lived in NY for over 20 years and recently moved to Spain and Domenic Landolf originally from Bern and now living in Basel play together for the very first time at the recording studio.
In any serious kitchen the high quality of the ingredients is always fundamental, also their capacity to adapt to different contexts without loosing the best elements of their flavour is indispensable.
Tom believed that this two gentleman had enough common ground to relate to each other in a deep way while their sounds and approach to improvisation are very different. He proved to be right, Domenic and Bill inspire each other and together they bring forth different but highly complementary musical points of view.
Once that is set, it’s important not to overcook the dish! No rehearsals needed, just clear simple arrangements that everyone can hold on to in order to give a distinctive aroma to each creation and some nice sauce and warmth to bring it all together.
That’s the role of the rhythm section in this recording. I felt strongly that as a drummer I just needed to provide a frame of reference for Domenic and Bill to dialogue and to develop their musical statements. Each track has a different energy and stylistic connotations, a form, an emotion that is unique to that moment and that needs to be identified and allowed to develop and present itself clearly. I had to let that happen by providing the frame and doing so in a team spirit with the other fellow creator in the band: Bänz Oester. Bänz is an amazingly powerful bass player with a warm sound and great energy who brings all kinds of ideas with a very clear melodic bluesy flavour that anchors the harmonic and rhythmic path for every tune.
I was the only musician on the session that had played with everyone else in the band so I felt I was in privileged position in order to provide the glue to connect each one of us optimising the process of making each track.
Tom Gsteiger was fully aware of the potential of the band he put together. He also helped pushing it in the right direction by suggesting just a few things (one small adjustment goes a long way).
Besides making sure that we had agreed before hand on a list of standards that would inspire everyone, Tom asked us to collectively improvise freely on the idea of a slow blues. The take turned out to have a very haunting mood and sparked an even higher level of trust among the musicians in the band.
Last but not least, we all enjoyed the privilege of using the amazing studio at Jazz Campus Basel and the top notch sound of Daniel Dettwiler with the great assistance from Benjamin Gut.
Recording, Mix & Master: Daniel Dettwiler & Beni Gut
Recorded at Jazzcampus Basel, May 3 2017
Mixed and Mastered at Idee und Klang Studio, Basel
Graphics: Corinne Hächler and Tom Gsteiger
Photography: Daniel Dettwiler