Friday, January 5, 2018

Variospheres - Live In Solothurn (2017)


Zbigniew Seifert - violin
Michel Herr - piano, electric piano
Hans Hartmann - bass
Janusz Stefański - drums

Live In Solothurn


By Adam Baruch

This is an archival release of a live recording by the European quartet Variospheres, led by the legendary late Polish Jazz violinist Zbigniew Seifert, which also included Belgian pianist Michel Herr, Swiss bassist Hans Hartmann and Polish drummer Janusz Stefański. They perform six compositions, four of which were composed by Seifert, one by Herr and the remaining one is unidentified.

Variospheres, which existed actually in two different lineups, was Seifert vehicle for European touring and of course part of his personal development as a composer and a player. Recorded in January of 1976 this live performance was a beginning of a hyperactive period in Seifert's life. In that year alone he recorded albums with Joachim Kuhn ("Springfever" for Atlantic) and Charlie Mariano ("Helen 12 Trees" for MPS) and his first album as a leader ("Man Of The Light" for MPS) as well as his solo violin album ("Solo Violin" for EMI which was released only a couple of years later). Sadly that year also brought the discovery of his illness, which took his life just three years later.

The music is typical of the modern European Jazz of that period, which was heavily involved in post-Coltrane Free improvisation and constant search of new forms of expression. The European scene, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, was buzzing with incredible productivity and discovery, and Seifert and his quartet represent the atmosphere of the period perfectly.

Although the sound quality of this recording is far from perfect, it manages to bring forward the incredible intensity of the music and the total involvement from the musicians. Seifert and Herr deliver lengthy fiery solos and the rhythm section supports the music and drives it ahead, both during the more swinging parts as well as during the freely improvised parts. Seifert's incredible compositions are always a delight.

The importance of the fact that this music is finally seeing a release, over forty years after it was recorded, is enormous. It adds to Seifert's relatively limited recorded legacy and sheds light on a very interesting period in European Jazz, which is always more than welcome. For the numerous Polish Jazz and Seifert's music connoisseurs this is an obvious must, and we should all be grateful to the Zbigniew Seifert Foundation, run by the incredible Aneta Norek, who is also the author of the excellent Seifert's biography, for faithfully bringing Seifert's legacy into the limelight!

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