Biondini, Godard, Niggli

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April 2024

Something exciting and new usually emerges at intersections between cultures.

Luciano Biondini and Michel Godard first met in Rabih Abou Khalil's band. The TubaTuba project followed later. Finally they met again in a trio with the cellist Ernst Reijseger. This results in a new trio with the Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli.

The Alps are the interface between the three musicians. However, the music of the three is not about them, but about them. Biondini fuses Mediterranean sounds with Argentinian ones. Godard tells great musical stories across all time boundaries. And Lucas Niggli moves between chiselled and brutal rhythms behind his drums. The three virtuosos use their composition templates as ideal springboards for sensual stories. They sometimes also push the limits of their playing techniques and forms of expression. The result is soul music full of energy, poetry and fine wit. (press release)

“Mavì” is the name of the new CD by the Biondini-Godard-Niggli trio. The title refers to a clear blue - the color that you see when you look at the Earth from space. And it says a lot about the sounds that are presented to us. We hear music that seems to come from the spheres and yet is extremely worldly, moving and sensual. The trio of Luciano Biondini, Michel Godard and Lucas Niggli is remarkable in several respects. On the one hand, there is the origin of the musicians: Biondini (*1971) comes from Spoleto in the Italian province of Perugia, Michel Godard (*1960) comes from Héricourt near Belfort in Franche-Comté, France, and Lucas Niggli (*1968 ) is Swiss and lives in the Zurich Oberland, but spent the first seven years of his life in Cameroon, where his parents worked in development aid. Different cultures and languages come together here. In the rehearsal room, in the studio and on stage, the three musicians usually communicate in Italian peppered with French words; they only switch to English when there are differences of opinion.

A second peculiarity of the trio is its instrumental composition: Biondini plays the accordion, Niggli plays the drums and all types of percussion, and Michel Godard plays the tuba and the serpent (an ancient, serpentine wind instrument with a mouthpiece like a brass one, but to the side holes like on a woodwind instrument). Sometimes Godard also uses the electric bass. With this instrumentation that is as idiosyncratic as it is fascinating, the trio has a palette of timbres that is literally unheard of.

The beauty of the shimmering and luminous sound is only one thing. The other is the virtuosity of the musicians, their melodic, harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness, their ability to empathically interact, their light-footed intelligence in dealing with complex musical forms. The latter can probably be explained by the fact that all three musicians are committed to jazz, but do not come from it or not only from it: Biondini studied classical accordion from the age of ten and won numerous prizes with his elaborate playing before he decided to play Turned to jazz in 1994. Michel Godard also had a classical education. From 1988 onwards he played in the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra and in several other formations. He also performs as a soloist and teaches master classes. Finally, Lucas Niggli was a passionate drummer as a child, but also received piano and singing lessons, discovered modern electronic music at an early age and has since then established himself as a composer and leader with a wide variety of formations (Steamboat Switzerland, Black Lotos, Zoom, Big Zoom) highlighted.

As is to be expected in jazz, Biondini, Godard and Niggli played with a who's who of the jazz scene. This is not the place to list all the names. The musicians' paths have already crossed several times: Biondini and Godard recorded the magnificent album "Tubatubatu" (Enja) with tuba player Dave Bargeron and drummer Kenwood Dennard in 2003, and Niggli also knows his fellow musicians from different contexts.

The three came together as a trio in 2010. In spring 2011 they released a brilliant debut CD, “What Is There What Is Not” (Intakt), in which they played their own compositions, a Bach arrangement and John Coltrane’s “Naima”. . In the
In the meantime, over the course of many performances, they have grown together into a working band that surprises with every concert. “Mavì”, the new CD, continues the concept of the first album and develops it further.

Biondini and Godard contributed most of the compositions. This time, a ravishing arrangement of the aria “Lascia ch'io pianga” by George Frideric Handel greets us from the Baroque period. The composer loved this melody and used it in various forms in his works “Almira”, “Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno” and “Rinaldo”.

This time, “Unrequited” by Brad Mehldau was selected as the contemporary foreign composition. The music was partly recorded live and partly recorded in the studio. On May 22, 2013, the trio gave a rousing concert on the opening evening of the Schaffhausen Jazz Festival.

This is where Niggli’s poetic solo “Black Eyes” and Godard’s immediately following composition “A Trace of Grace” come from – undoubtedly highlights of the album. Both the musicians and the audience felt that something extraordinary had happened. That's why the trio went to Willy Strehler's Klangdach studio in Guntershausen on the following two days. At the beginning it wasn't easy to transfer the euphoric atmosphere and dialogic density of the performance to the new situation. But the band managed to carry both the momentum and the concentration with them and also act as a live band in the studio. There was almost no editing, i.e. subsequent processing. The music pulsates and breathes. The wonderful title track in particular bears witness to this.

The music of Biondini, Godard and Niggli lives from its poetry, its beauty of sound, its depth of thought, but also from its inner tension. This is created by interweaving composition and improvisation. Not everything is advertised. In the Handel arrangement, for example, it was just the bass line. So-called lead sheets are usually sufficient as a starting point. Then the hour of interplay arrives. And this can be experienced here in exhilarating intensity. The musicians act as equal partners, they form an equilateral triangle, they listen to each other, play ideas to each other, record them, change them: sometimes pensive, sometimes cocky, but always intelligent and with respect for the composition. This is how they achieve the combination of form and freedom that is the core of jazz – and we see the earth in clear blue. (Manfred Pope)

Program and cast

Luciano Biondini: accordion
Michel Godard: tuba, serpent, bass
Lucas Niggli: drums, percussion

PORGY & BESS Jazzclub

Porgy & Bess (actually, Jazz and Music Club Porgy & Bess ) is a jazz club in the Riemergasse 11 in the 1st district of Vienna. The club , founded in 1993 is considered " the most important jazz organizer and trendy meeting point " of the Austrian capital .

The program of Porgy & Bess speaks to a very large audience , about 70,000 guests a year ; is accordingly Jazz " understood very pluralistic ," and the program " even in fringe areas , such as electronic music , contemporary music and world music penetrated . " Many international artists , particularly from the U.S. space , see also Austrian musician here an opportunity to perform . The club also offers the stage for events, such as the award of the Austrian World Music Award.

Musicologist Christian Scheib According to the Porgy & Bess " at the same time essential for the development of the musical ( jazz ) reality of a City" and needs and uses ' plain commonplace as urban space music. " It creates itself " through artistic preferences, acoustic quality , capacity and real capacity, the necessary exclusion of other clubs. " Here, the different areas of the jazz clubs allow - the area in front of the stage with tables, upstairs gallery , a lateral area with a bar at counter - different intense concentration on the concert scene . For Jazzthetik Porgy & Bess is even a " traditional club . "

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