No country in Europe has produced as many quality percussionsts as has Switzerland itself a land of strong percussionist tradition. Nowhere in Europe can one find so many «percussion clubs»: the Carnival of Basel (Basler Fasnacht) is year after year the most interesting percussionist spec-tacle offered in Europe, presenting a quality of drumming precision for which there is hardly a more impressive equivalent, at least not in the realms of larger percussionist groups in existence. To this day in Basel for outsiders, the city of scholars par excellence a good percussionist enjoys greater esteem than a scholar. Professionals remind us that in the land of the Swiss, percussionist tradition goes back to the Middle Ages.
Pierre Favre has been performing as a solo percussionist since the beginning of the Seventies. Since then, critics have been in accord about the exceptional quality of these solos. In describing FavreŒs art as a soloist, one cannot speak of a demonstra-tive virtuosity with which the greats of percussion demonstrate their styles and tech-niques of accompaniment.
On the contrary, with Favre one finds from the beginning a personal musical vision to be understood in the same sense as a sonata is meant for piano.
For the first time in 1984, Pierre Favre composed for a percussionist ensemble which included Paul Motian, Fredy Studer, Nana Vasoncelos and himself («Singing Drums», ECM 1274). With «Singing Drums», Favre endowed his vision with its first actual orchestral form.
«Singing Drums » take this development a step further. Although two of the four instruments in this new ensemble are horns, the groupŒs concept is essentially rhythmical. The 1984 quartet has condensed as it were to become the duo Pierre Favre Lucas Niggli. Niggli differs from the percussionists of the Sixties generation through a personal expression which is energetic and flexible and requires no fashionable muscular performances.
The percussionist duo creates the framework in which the saxophonist and clarinet-tist Roberto Ottaviano and the tubist Michel Godard operate. A unique uplifting power of song can be ascribed to the former, which casts a special light onto the underlying rhythmic landscape. The latter unites power and melodic finesse in his tuba, form which he easily brings forth the tonalities of large drums or those of the highest so-prano scale. The intervention of both horn players punctuate, illuminate and com-ment on the percussionist discourse.
Simplified and summarized: «Singing Drums » exchange roles often it is the horns which accompany the percussionists.
released January 1, 1998
Lucas Niggli, Pierre Favre: Drums, Percussion
Roberto Ottaviano: Saxophone
Michel Godard: Tuba, Serpent