The Current Underneath CD LR 391 - LEO RECORDS

Release date: 2004/02

This is the third release by Michel Wintsch (piano) on Leo

Records with his fellow-musicians Gerry Hemingway

(drums), Banz Oester (bass). (The last piece on the CD

has been recorded with the guest Ray Anderson on

trombone.) The title of the CD very precisely reflects the

nature of the music, and it seems that Michel Wintsch,

who wrote most pieces, is moving towards a new

aesthetics which can be defined as "less is more". The

understatement is always stronger than the


Recorded live in Sion, Ferme Asile, Switzerland, June 14,

2003, in Castle Life Studio, Fribourg, Switzerland, June

16, 2003 by Gonzague Ruffieux, and in Studio du Flon,

April 4, 2000 by Christian Guggenbühl.

Track Listing: Current: 1. Quartier Lointain 2. Swantra 3.

Jerusalem 4. Seduna in Wallis, part 1 5. Seduna in Wallis,

part 2 6. Ma p’tite chanson 7. Rabin's cat 8. Mir mag halt

niemert öppis günnee 9. J’irai*

Personnel: Current: Ray Anderson (trombone)*; Michel

Wintsch (piano, electric piano*); Bänz Oester (bass);

Gerry Hemingway (drums)

Total time: 59'30


Date : 31 août 2004

Auteur : Luc Bouquet

Qu'il est beau et sensible ce jazz-là. Qu'elle est belle et

sobre cette musique qui avance résolue et collective.

Qu'elle est belle cette musique qui aime à s'aventurer

hors piste. Michael Wintsch, Bänz Oester et Gerry

Hemingway n'en sont pas à leur coup d'essai (trois

disques pour le seul label Leo Records).

Ici, la musique respire, percute. Elle se moque de la

performance. Elle aime à convoquer la valse, le bop, le

tango et la vieille chanson française (la sublime Ma p'tite

Chanson). Au détour d'une improvisation, la Lonely

Woman d'Ornette Coleman s'invite, la caisse claire de

Gerry Hemingway joue à cache-cache avec la

contrebasse généreuse et fertile de Bänz Oester. Le

piano de Michel Wintsch déborde de tendresse : nous

l'écoutons s'évader, se faire volubile, se calmer, jouer

avec un égal bonheur des retenues et des déluges.

Elle est résolument belle cette musique-là. Belle et

discrète. Comme un délicieux crépuscule d'automne.

:: Luc Bouquet ::

Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

This sophomore effort by the Who Trio -- pianist Michel

Wintsch with drummer Gerry Hemingway and bassist

Bänz Oester -- is a rambling, startling exercise in textures,

layered dynamics, and process. Certainly it is a jazz

record, rife with beautifully studied compositions and

carefully articulated improvisations; as such, it is a

nocturnal, silky, wonderfully wrought piece of understated

mastery. The opener, "Quartier Lointain," a collective

improvisation, offers a bird's-eye view of the intimacy of

these proceedings. Wintsch 's pianism shimmers around

two different melodic ideas as Hemingway double-times

his way into near silence, underlining only the briefest of

phrases. Oester falls in on separate measures, collating

his way through the harmonics. Eventually, the tension

increases just enough to bring the band together in a taut

percussive exchange before Wintsch brings back his

skeletal melody to break it. It's stunning. On Wintsch 's

"Swantra," bopped-up piano blues and swing are offered

up as ghost figures for a new kind of knotty interchange

as both Oester and Hemingway syncopate the already

syncopated and turn harmonics around on one another in

the process. The reading of "Jerusalem" here is one of the

most elegant, emotionally beautiful, and challenging ever

recorded. Its deep lyricism reflects the traditionally based

folk melody the tune is composed on as a jazz construct,

and offers the sheerest shade of the blues as an anchor

to its exoticism. And so it goes -- until the last track as

Ray Anderson 's trombone is added to the mix. Oester's

bowed bass and Hemingway 's whispering cymbals

introduce the tune. "J'Irai" seems to come from the desert

itself. Its slowly unfolding melody and mode reflect the

spirits of ancient musics and film noir jazz before

becoming a tough, slightly out post-bop swing fest. It is

arresting, deep, mysterious, and profound in its subtlety.

This is a provocative way to end a recording where so

much has already been introduced, but when it's the Who

Trio, anything and everything is possible. Awesome. ~

splendid reviews 6/5/2004

Reviewed by: Christian Carey The Current Underneath

The Who Trio -- pianist Michel Wintsch, bassist Bänz

Oester and percussionist Gerry Hemingway -- make

music that sits astride traditional jazz and more

exploratory improvisational traditions. That said, their

second album creates some lovely moments of lyrical

beauty, gently reflective in a manner that many avant jazz

collectives eschew.

"Quartier Lointain", a group-credited composition, is an

excellent case in point. Clocking in at some nine-and-ahalf

minutes, it is an exploration of timbre and incremental

development of small snatches of material. Oester plays a

tonic-dominant root ostinato, against which Wintsch

interpolates terse single-note melodies and gossamer

chords. Hemingway remains mostly in the background,

providing subtle accents and shaping phrases. The

Wintsch composition "Swantra", on the other hand, is a

swinging, uptempo number. The pianist has a lot of fun

here, playing bluesy runs and cascading arpeggios.

Hemingway's zesty fills enliven the tune, while Oester's

syncopated walking threatens to launch it into orbit.

Partway through, the trio goes into double time, a truly

dizzying feat that brings the tempo near "ludicrous speed".

The group returns to calm reflection with the

Chabrier/Moutet composition "Jerusalem". Once again,

Oester seems to favor an undulating groove that

highlights chord roots. Still, his syncopation of this

ostinato means that the notes will often accentuate a

different part of the measure than Wintsch's melodic

phrases, creating a delicious juxtaposition. Wintsch

himself has a bit of Parisian cafe fun here, tossing in

extravagant glissandi to embellish bittersweet harmonies.

"Seduna in Wallis, Part One" extends this airy ambience

with a buoyant tune in waltz time. Its continuation ("Part

Two") is a lengthier improvisation, bringing Hemingway's

percussive accents more to the fore while Wintsch holds

out ringing, intricate harmonies, filled with piquant

secondal dissonances.

The record's final piece, "J'irai", features a guest

performance by trombonist Ray Anderson. Much is made

of the registral similarity between Anderson's trombone

and Oester's bass, creating a dovetailing baritone duet.

Anderson's playing has a vocal, somewhat mournful

quality, while Hemingway plays cymbal and snare


interjections and Wintsch provides a delicate textural


There is a wide variety of good material on The Current

Underneath. The Who Trio employ a number of different

styles, but the recording never seems insufficiently

focused or motivated -- and that's no mean feat.

Reviewed by: Glenn Astarita

Review: The third release by the trio features all-star

trombonist Ray Anderson, performing on the final cut

titled, “Jlrai.” Ultimately, the group uses space as an

added instrument. But don’t let that fool you. The

musicians do inject an abundance of pumping grooves,

fiercely enacted swing motifs and finger-snapping rhythms

into the grand scheme of things. Drummer Gerry

Hemingway and bassist Banz Oester generate matters

into overdrive on occasion, while pianist Michel Wintsch

once again surfaces as an articulate improviser. The

pianist often counterbalances a sequence of microthemes

with his left hand voicings amid swirling

countercurrents and odd-metered pulses. They explore a

myriad of disparate angles. Hence, the live element

creates an uncanny sense of the visual, whereas the trio

remains focused, yet loose. The music is characterized by

a continuous and asymmetrically designed flow, while

Wintsch creates a few well-placed gaps here and there. At

times, fascinating and highly entertaining, the trio simply

distinguishes itself in rather pronounced fashion

throughout this absorbing affair. (Vigorously


Artist's Website: http://www.leorecords.com

Jazz corner’s Speakeasy 4,2004

Reviewed by: Nate Dorward

Didn't hear this trio's first disc (also on Leo); caught them

(minus the bassist) in Halifax last year & quite enjoyed it.

Still can't figure out my take on this disc after a couple

listens. It sounds like a strange cross betwen a Simon

Nabatov disc & EST--there's a pop-song element to it,

both in the choice of covers, & also on a track like

"Quartier Lointain". A little too sweet as a whole, I feel,

though it might grow on me further. You'd be hard pressed

to identify Hemingway on much of the album--which may

of course be a good thing depending on your perspective

(Gerry's soloing in particular can sometimes be a bit rote

in "free" contexts).

Recensito su SUONO numero 368 di maggio 2004

Reviewed by: Maurizio Favot

Ancorché non molto noto al di fuori della natìa Svizzera,

Michel Wintsch è un musicista di notevole interesse, e

non solo per il suo pianismo del tutto peculiare, ma anche

per l’intensa e variegata attività compositiva, esercitata in

campo cinematografico (ha lavorato soprattutto con il

regista elvetico Alain Tanner, quello di Jonas che avrà 20

anni nel 2000), radiofonico, televisivo e teatrale. Tra le

sue creazioni figurano anche composizioni di stampo

accademico, sia pure non certo convenzionali, come

l’opera Ma Barker, Stalker Blue (dedicata al regista russo

Andrei Tarkovski) e Autour de Bartok (con brani di Bela

Bartok arrangiati per sestetto e altri dedicati al

compositore). Qui lo troviamo a capo del trio WHO, con

Banz Oester al contrabbasso e Gerry Hemingway alla

batteria, che è attivo dal 1998 e costituisce il suo coté più

jazzistico. Tra i nove brani contenuti in The Current

Underneath spiccano stavolta anche delle interpretazioni

di partiture altrui, peraltro dedicate più a loro famosi

interpreti che non ai compositori originali: abbiamo quindi

una Jerusalem ispirata da Edith Piaf, Ma p’tite chanson da

Bourvil e Mir mag halt niemert oppis günne dall’attore

svizzero Ruedi Walter. E sono tra i punti più “alti” di un

lavoro comunque splendido (i tre protagonisti esibiscono

tra l’altro un invidiabile interplay), chiuso in quartetto, con

Ray Anderson al trombone e il leader al Fender Rhodes in


Voto Artistico: 8

Voto Tecnico: 7

Downtown Music Gallery

DMG Newsletter Mai 2004

WHO TRIO - The Current Underneath (Leo 391) The

WHO Trio features Michael Wintsch on piano & Fender

Rhodes, Banz Oester on bass and Gerry Hemingway on

drums, with special guest Ray Anderson doing trombone

on one track. This is the third Leo release for Michael

Wintsch group, who also have one cd on Between the

Lines. Two pieces were recorded live, the other seven

recorded in studio, all in Switzerland. I dig the way Gerry

plays this quiet, insistent groove on the cymbals on the

opening tune, while the rest of the trio play in gentle slow

motion around him, sort of "In a Silent Way"-like.

"Swantra" has that slightly bent Monkian rhythmic intro,

the tempo escalates to a daredevil pace, as the trio

swings with power, before it breaks down to a slower,

freer section. Michael often writes tunes that start with one

direction and then move through unexpected sections with

odd changes. "Seduna in Wallis" is in two connected

parts, where there is an intense static section during the

first part, then a central bass throb during the second part

which features overlapping piano and drums, moving

together. "Rabin's Cat" features their bassist pumping

quickly throughout, taking the lead role. While the piano

and drums spin around him. The final piece with Ray

Anderson is a spacious one with somber, floating sounds

filled with suspense. A strong balance between the

quirkier and the more laid back sections of songs.


Reviewed by: Ken Waxman

Together for a shorter period, The Who Trio has fused

into an exceptional performance unit. Peripatetic

American drummer Gerry Hemingway, who is occupied

with numerous bands on both sides of the Atlantic, adds

pinpoint percussion accents exactly where needed, and

Swiss bassist Bänz Oester is the consummate

accompanist. Chief composer Wintsch, who as a rule

sounds less-than-comfortable in freer situations like his

CD with guitarist Fred Frith and vocalist Franziska

Baumann, may have found the perfect setting for his


This is made most clear on “Seduna in Wallis” parts1 and

2, which combined are 14-minutes of definite EuroJazz,

designated that way because the two draw on both the

jazz and classical traditions without straining. A sensible

swinger that begins with flashing octaves and key pats

from Wintsch, it’s extended by Hemingway’s steady snare

and cymbal beats plus prickly bent notes from Oester.

Moving into part 2, the tune is decorated with anthem-like

harmonies and two handed, two tempo piano notes

arriving from different places to intersect. Soon hardhanded

touch and pedal extensions ratchet up the

tautness and excitement level, as one of Wintsch’s hands

appears to be reaching out across the keyboard to stroke

different patterns, augmented with forearm force. Speedy

arpeggios roll back and forth with contrasting patterns in

either hand, with the pianist generating a dramatic


waterfall of slinky, bent notes. Rocketing up the impetus,

the drummer contributes rim and cymbal shots and a

military tattoo on snare, riding nearly every part of the kit

with double flams, bounces and rebounds. Finally the

tension dissipates after ponticello shuffle bowing from

Oester and what seems to be Wintsch playing the

opening strain from Ornette Coleman’s “Focus On Sanity”.

European chansonnier-linked ballads make their

appearance here as they did on earlier WHO CDs. Yet

this time the pianist overcomes their innate mawkishness,


key clips, pedal pumps and other pragmatic strategies to

strip them down to the musical core. Thus a piece like “Ma

p’tite chanson”, aided by Oester’s thwacks and stringstretching

evolves from tinkly piano fluff to a polyrhythmic

exercise in tempo changing abstraction. Would that

Kikuchi had done the same on his disc.

Other compositions -- by Wintsch, other pop tunesmiths

or jointly from the trio --benefit from other surprises.

Clacking railway track sounds from the drummer and

strummed octaves and cross-handed exercises from

pianist livens them up. Meanwhile, the bassist’s invention

is characterized by slapping bow wood against the bull

fiddle’s wood for effect or riding the strings pizzicato like a

skateboarder on an incline.

Trombonist Ray Anderson adds his slurring plunger work

to the final tune with Wintsch introducing echoing electric

piano tones. Yet with WHO members functioning on the

same high level as before, “J’irai” is more a conformation

of their talents than a change of pace.

One More Time juil/ août 2004

Reviewed by: Jean Michel Reisser

Voici un trio bien particulier. Ces trios musicians sont

connus pour réaliser des musiques bien différentes mais

toujours très actuelles et modernes. Ce cd résulte d’une

formidable rencontre entre nos compères, en très grande

forme. Un trio “free” certes mais pas totalement. Et

pourquoi? Car ils y jouent beaucoup de melodies et

manient l’humour et s’expriment avec swing. Je dirais que

l’improvisation a la par belle dans ce groupe plein de

finesse, de tendresse et de musicalité. Tout ceci est for

surprenant car ce trio ne ressemble à aucun autre. On

peut toutefois, de çà et de là entendre des

effluvesd’Ahmad Jamal, de Bill Evans, mais aussi de

Keith Jarret ou encore Joachim Khun. Un des must de ce

cd est la composition de Michel Wintsch: “Seudna in

Wallis Part. 2”. Une inventivité eet une fraîcheur qui vous

laisse pantois. C’est d’ailleurs de cette manière que votre

serviteur est reté à l’écoute de ce très bel album. “A

découvrir toute affaire cessante” dixit mon ami Pierre

Losego. Un des trios les plus intéressants dans le genre

que j’ai eu l’occasion d’entendre depuis bien longtemps.

Der Bund Tom Steiger

jazz: New York, Genf, Bern

Bei Konzerten kann es schon mal vorkommen, dass

der klangliche Eindruck nicht recht zum optischen

Geschehen passen will. Der schlaksig-asketische

Gerry Hemingway zum Beispiel macht hinter dem

Schlagzeug keinen besonders glücklichen Eindruck.

Er wirkt fast immer angespannt, manchmal gar

verkrampft und tendiert zu eckigen Bewegungen, die an

spastische Zuckungen gemahnen. Die Ohren melden

hingegen: Auch wenn es nicht so ausschauen mag, gibt

es überhaupt keinen Grund zur Sorge, der Mann hat

jederzeit alles im Griff!

Der Mann fürs Vertrackte

Tatsächlich zählt der 1955 geborene Hemingway, der bis

nächsten Sonntag in der Dampfzentrale zu sehen (Uh!)

und zu hören (Oho!) ist und danach wieder nach New

York fliegt, zu den herausragenden Schlagzeugern des

progressiven Jazz. Auf mehreren Soloalben hat er sich

eingehend mit den klanglichen Möglichkeiten seines

Instruments auseinander gesetzt und dabei auch spezielle

Spieltechniken zum Einsatz gebracht. Bekannt geworden

ist Hemingway in den Achtzigerjahren als Mitglied von

zwei ganz unterschiedlichen Gruppen. Im Quartett des

Altsaxofonisten Anthony Braxton wurde er mit radikal

neuartigen, komplexen und nicht immer auf Anhieb

verständlichen Konzepten konfrontiert. Der neugierige

Hemingway nahm die Herausforderung an und

entwickelte sich zu einem Spezialisten für vertrackte Puls-

Strukturen. Die zweite Gruppe ist das Trio

BassDrumBone mit dem Posaunisten Ray Anderson und

dem Bassisten Mark Helias, das nach wie vor sporadisch

in Erscheinung tritt und dem wir eine die Sinne belebende

Mixtur aus avantgardistischem Firlefanz und Saftwurzel-

Swing verdanken.

Seit längerer Zeit pflegt Hemingway auch den Austausch

mit der europäischen Szene, so wirkten beispielsweise in

seinen eigenen Bands die Holländer Walter Wierbos

(Posaune) und Ernst Reijseger (Cello) mit. Hemingway ist

auch Teil eines der spannendsten Klaviertrios weit und

breit, in dem der Genfer Pianist Michel Wintsch die Rolle

des Primus inter Pares übernimmt und der Berner Bassist

Bänz Oester für Bodenhaftung besorgt ist. Den üblichen

Klaviertrio-Klischees geht diese Gruppe konsequent aus

dem Weg. Dem aus dem Rahmen fallenden Repertoire

merkt man an, dass Wintschs Bewunderung nicht nur

widerborstigen Tastenvirtuosen wie Cecil Tayor, sondern

auch melancholischen Chanson-Existenzialisten wie

Jacques Brel gilt. Auf der aktuellen CD des Trios, «The

Current Underneath» (Leo Records), ertönt neben

Wintsch-Stücken, Kollektivimpros und französischen

Chansons auch noch das Lied «Mir mag halt niemert

öppis günne» aus der Niederdorf-Oper, dessen

berühmteste Version vom legendären Volksschauspieler

Ruedi Walter stammt. (tom)

Wintsch/Hemingway/Oester, Dampfzentrale, 30.

September, 21 Uhr, 1. bis 3. Oktober, 22 Uhr.


Press Review 2002

CD "OPEN SONGS" Altrisuoni 108 - 2002

Canadian tour june-july 2002

Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Comprised of pianist Michel Wintsch, bassist Banz

Oester, and drummer Gerry Hemingway, WHO Trio

played two engaging sets the next afternoon at

Performance Works on Granville Island, one of

Vancouver's main tourist magnets. The trio repeatedly

stretched the conventions of the modern jazz piano format

to the brink of disfigurement, without crossing over into


pat deconstructiviist gestures. Each player exerted a

determined independence in developing materials; but as

in the case of Paul Bley's classic trios, there is a

spaciousness s immediately asserted that each player's

mobility is easily incorporated into the work. These fluid

parameters place the mining of tangy minor keyed

vamps or the light swinging of a

Piaf-associated song within a multi-faceted context that

elevatessuch passages above pastiche. All three

musicians have excellent skills: Wintsch can unleash

withering unison lines that suddenly splay to create

dizzying contrapuntal mazes: Oester has a deft sense

of leading with a big sound and letting phrases build in its

wake; and Hemingway has a seemingly bottomless

reservoir of ways to shape the pulse on a second by

second basis. WHO Trio provides a truly open forum for

them to roam.

By Bill Shoemaker September 2002 issue of Jazz

Review in the UK

Qu'est-ce que les chansons de Jacques Brel ou de

Gilbert Bécaud ont à voir dans le contexte du jazz? Un

blues laconique joué sur un seul accord peut-il éveiller

l'attention? Les musiciens qui réunissent un trio architraditionnel,

du genre piano-basse-batterie, ont-t-il encore

des terrains inconnus à défricher? On est en droit de se

poser ces questions avant d'écouter le nouveau disque du

trio WHO, mais plus aprés l'avoir entendu. Le pianiste

Michel Wintsch et le contrebassiste Bänz Oester, deux

Suisses associés au batteur américain Gerry Hemingway,

se plongent avec une brillante énergie dans une aventure

qui offre des possibilités illimitées. L'auditeur commence

par se trouver devant un mur de seiziéme de tons, un

monument élevé àla mémoire du cinéaste et poéte russe

Andrei Tarkovski. Puis il tombe sous la mélancolie des

accents d'un piano entouré par les plaintes ironiques de la

contrebasse et les feulements métalliques des cymbales.

Le chemin se poursuit avec un blues au riff immuable qui

finit par se résoudre dans le feeling mÍme du blues pour

mieux souligner les improvisations du pianiste. Les deux

longues plages intitulées « La Foule »et « Et

maintenant », enregistrées l'année derniére au festival de

jazz de Schaffhouse, sont intéressantes à plus d'un titre.

Ces tubes de la chanson française présentent un cadre

harmonique dont ont déjà abusé tous les Richard

Clayderman du monde. Mais le trio n'attend pas trop

longtemps avant de respirer profondément pour prendre

la tangente et s'élever vers des sommets extatiques. Il

descend ensuite quatre à quatre dans un ravin et fait

tourner une valse au swing chaleureux et délicat.

Magnifique hommage à Gilbert Bécaud, Monsieur 100'000

volts. L'entrejeu du trio brille par sa transparence, sa

sensibilité et son élasticité. Le batteur Gerry Hemingway,

en particulier, maîtrise à la perfection l'art de donner des

impulsions, de relancer le tempo et de construire avec

finesse une puissante dramaturgie. On ne peut que vous

recommander de prêter vos deux oreilles à ces trois


Chronique de disque de Frank Kukat (Jazz Podium)

traduction Christian Steulet

Art Gallery of Calgary

The WHO Trio (Michel Wintsch-piano; Baenz Oesterdouble

bass and Gerry Hemingway-drums), played a

carefully blended masterpiece of improvised and

composed music that showcased both the musicians'

abilities to employ their arsenal of technical-musical tricks

(such as Gerry Hemingway using his lungs and a small

hose to inflate and deflate his floor tom, thus changing its

pitch when struck, and Baenz Oester using corks between

the strings of his bass) as well as their school-of-fish style

direction changes. Michel Wintsch's piano conjured varied

levels of melodic beauty, humor and tension (made all

the more apparent by watching his stool creep toward the

edge of the stage), but the highlight was Gerry

Hemingway's absolutely chaotic solo that really defied

logic, and sent the thought through my head repeatedly

"holy shit, that's just one guy."

by Cody Oliver

Art Gallery of Calgary

(...)For those wanting a taste of the Jazz on the Wing

series, the most savory and sweet concert may be the

WHO trio (June 19) with Michel Wintsch on piano, Bänz

Oester on bass and Gerry Hemingway on drums. Wintsch

and Oester are from Switzerland, and Hemingway is from

New York. One of the best and most innovative drummers

in jazz, Hemingway is fun to watch. Well known for his

participation in the Anthony Braxton Quartet, he works

with many of the major players in jazz today, but also

writes contemporary composition (one of his works is out

on John Zorn's Tzadic label), and performs more

experimental work, as well.

Wintsch is known for his compositions of film soundtracks

(especially for Alain Tanner). Some of his solos have a tint

of the classical, but, in addition, he has worked with rock


With beautiful melody and intricate structure, the WHO

trio's album Open Songs displays the strong

compositional background of the musicians. Gentle

improvisations are interwoven, and there is strength and

unity in the sound. Beyond the traditional method of

trading solos, there's a profound communication and

feeling of solidity between the three players. Although

entitled Open Songs, they are not so much airy as they

are tight, each sonic element connected like pieces in a

jigsaw puzzle.

by Paula Fayerman

The Music Gallery at St-George-the-Martyr Church -


The trio parlayed this stuttering, rhythmic beginning into a

50-minute piece moving through fast swing, a romantic

minor-key waltz, a dense groove and an interlude when all

three produced sounds by wiping their instruments (with

cloths and hands).

The second half featured more new-music-style

experimentation with instruments, but all three players

also have formidable technique in a traditional sense, and

neither prowess nor weirdness was deployed gratuitously.

The improvisations evolved out of -- or into -- composed

pieces with a classical bent, and the trio's movement

outside and inside these pieces made for arresting

listening. In their desire to explore every facet of a musical

tangent, though, they did tend to ramble on. Between

exciting passages would come repetitive moments when


the juices of inspiration sat waiting to be stirred back from

a puddle into a whirlpool. Thankfully, the players always

woke up and recovered.

review by MIKE DOHERTY - Hi times eye - 07.04.02

12. Schaffhauser Jazzfestival

Voici trés peu de temps encore, les critiques et les fans

de jazz n'épargnaient pas les musiciens suisses qui

invitaient des collégues américains dans leur orchestres.

On leur reprochait d'augmenter artificiellement la valeur

commerciale de leur projet, de vouloir masquer leurs

carences, ou de s'abriter derrière l'aura des étoiles

d'outre-Atlantique. Ces temps sont heureusement révolus.

Les invités américains et européens, mais aussi les

voisins d'autres cantons suisses représentent toujours un

plus en termes d'attractivité. Ils aménent leurs impulsions

propres et profitent en retour des interactions avec des

musiciens qui évoluent au mÍême niveau qu'eux.

Le pianiste et compositeur genevois Michel Wintsch a

fourni le meilleur exemple de ces synergies durant

l'édition 2001 du festival. Avec une performance de trés

haut niveau artistique, son trio fut le point culminant de la

manifestation. Michel Wintsch est un artiste ouvert à de

nombreuses influences: sa musique et ses improvisations

intégrent aussi bien des éléments de jazz contemporain

que la musique classique occidentale. Avec Banz Oester,

contrebassiste bernois à l'intonation irréprochable, et

Gerry Hemingway, batteur américain, Michel Wintsch a

trouvÈ deux complices qui réalisent pleinement ses

conceptions musicales. C'est ainsi que Gerry Hemingway

a accompagné avec une poésie, une précision et une

puissance rares la musique de chansons françaises archiconnues

(notamment Jacques Brel). Modeste, le pianiste

genevois a expliqué au public qu'il préparait un nouveau

disque consacré entre autres aux chansons en version


NZZ, Nick Liebmann, 21 mai 2001 traduction Christian


Des compositions originales côtoient des reprises de

chansons, entre autres celles de Gilbert Bécaud et de

Jacques Brel. Distanciées avec finesse, ces chansons

(ces "Open Songs") s'ouvrent effectivement et deviennent

le creuset d'une réinvention tout à fait captivante.

L'interprétation surprenante du "Plat Pays" nous donne

réellement le sentiment de traverser la contrée racontée

par Brel. Les sons rendent tangible l'étendue et possible

la magie.

Open Songs fait résonner une beauté éclatante, parfois

au bord du silence. On perçoit derrière ces notes une voix

à la fois étrange et familière et une émotion retenue qui

tour à tour nous déchire et nous enivre.

review by Géraldine Martin JazzBreak.com

Flanqué des impeccables Gerry Hemingway et Bänz

Oester, Michel Wintsch brouille les pistes en offrant en trio

une palette stylistique généreuse de ses talents. Nerveux

et cinglant au détour d'un hommage au cinéaste russe

Andrei Tarkovski, un morceau tiré de l'excellent disque

"Stalker Blue" en duo avec Nathalie Saudan, nosthalgique

et sensible à l'évocation des mélodies de Jacques Brel ou

de la Foule une chanson immortalisé par Edithe Piaf, il

démontre ainsi les multiples cordes qu'il possède à son

piano. Souvent ces évocations semble constituer des

amorces pour faire dériver la musique vers des accents

plus contemporains, voire plus ardus. Complices et

attentifs, les musiciens laissent le temps à la musique de

se développer, d'explorer les différents strates et de

proposer les phases suivantes dans un lent et cohérent

glissement qui dessine en définitive le fil conducteur et

toute la cohérence de ce disque.

review by Mickäl Tolck Viva La Musica n. 242 été 2002

Le Genevois Michel Wintsch (piano), le New Yorkais

Gerry Hemingway (drums) et le Bernois Baenz Oester

(Bass) interprètent dans "Open Songs" (Altri Suoni) des

morceaux que l'on rencontre rarement dans le contexte

du jazz. Il s'agit de chansons françaises tels que "Ne me

quitte pas" de Jacques Brel ou encore "Et Maintenant" de

Gilbert Bécaud auxquelles ils rajoutent des improvisations

collectives et un morceau de M. Wintsch "Offret".

Évidemment le trio progressif ne propose pas de reprises

bien sages mais il prend ces mélodies éternelles comme

point de départ pour des excursions bouleversantes et qui

vont très loin parfois. Ces excursions, qui s'enflamment

d'une mélancolie obsessionnelle peuvent aller jusqu`à

une tempête déchaînée. Par moments ils s'éloignent

beaucoup du départ, mais l'atmosphère reste présente

même dans les moments le plus sauvages. Le noyau

existentiel de ces chansons est traduit dans le contexte

du jazz d'une manière qui est en même temps

respectueuse et audacieuse. Ainsi le trio prend un chemin

qui ressemble à celui de la formation Tethered Moon

(Masabumi Kikuchi, Gary Peacock, Paul Motian), dont le

CD "Chansons d'Edith piaf", est apparu il y a trois ans,

mais le résultat sonne très différent.

Tom Gsteiger, Der Bund, 3.8.02 Traduction libre

Encore peu connu dans le milieu du jazz en dépit de

ses nombreux et parfois ambitieux orchestres et projets à

géométrie variable, le pianiste genevois Michel Wintsch

surprend avec un vrai chef-d' oeuvre. Enregistrés «live»

au festival de jazz de Schaffhouse ainsi que dans un

studio lausannois, Michel Wintsch et ses deux complices,

le contrebassiste bernois Bänz Oester et le batteur

américain Gerry Hemingway, interprétent de façon trés

personnelles des chansons françaises (entre autres « Ne

me quittes pas » « La foule » et « Et maintenant ».

L'approche du matériau musical est douce et presque

« naturelle ». Le pianiste genevois ne tente pas à tout prix

d'enfermer ces mélodies simples et sentimentales dans le

corset harmonique du jazz. Face à ces chansons

immortelles, il baisse les armes et va droit à l'essentiel.

Avec l'aide de partenaires à l'attention jamais en défaut,

ces refrains tant fredonnés empruntent sous ses doigts

des directions différentes. Que ce soit pour des

improvisations libres ou dans un swing impeccable, la

maniére reste belle. Les autres compositions convaincent

tout autant, comme par exemple ces triangulations

improvisées librement ou ce théme dédié au cinéaste

Andrei Tarkovski. Que demander aux musiciens de jazz,

sinon autant de conviction et d'inspiration?

Chronique de disque de Nick Liebman (NZZ) traduction

Christian Steulet



Chris Parker, BBC Music

Complex, probing, highly original, this album, while

utilising much of the vocabulary associated with the freely

improvised music in which Leo Records specialises,

crosses into abstraction only rarely. For the most part,

Michael Wintsch’s compositions - plus a couple from

drummer Gerry Hemingway - are wholly absorbing,

rousingly unpredictable, cleverly structured pieces that

elicit trio performances of extraordinary subtlety and

delicacy yet scrupulously controlled power. Scurrying

interplay is tellingly juxtaposed with gently insistent,

occasionally robust lyricism and the odd burst of free

interaction, but anyone sceptical about the trio’s jazz roots

schould listen to the album’s closer a delightfully

imaginative blues. An important album that stretches the

piano-trio tradition and richly deserves a wide audience.

THIRTEEN WAYS Focus Palmetto PM 2055 (67:48)

WHO Identity Leo 282 (58:39)

These two trio CDs have in common drummer Gerry

Hemingway and a great deal of refinement. The WHO CD

features pianist Michel Wintsch and bassist Banz Oester.

Though Wintsch isn't listed as the leader on Identity, he

wrote the majority of the tunes and is obviously the

featured player. Wintsch probably has had considerable

classical training since he has a nice, light touch, tons of

facility and likes to use the upper octaves and play

contrapuntally. But there are times, as on "Anna-Marie S",

when Wintsch's work, is too precious. He could stand to

be less academic, and his mixing of jazz and classical

devices could be more smoothly integrated. He's thinking

though, using motivic variation and development. His work

on `For John Coltrane," which has something in common

with Keith Jarrett's playing, is nicely paced and inventive.

Wintsch also builds lucidly on Oester's "Driving Home".

Hemingway, pianist Fred Hersh, and Michael Moore, on

alto sax, clarinet and bass clarinet are more of a co-op

trio, whose playing is marked by introspective lyricism,

This group's version of Hemingway's "Idientity," which is

the WHO trio CDs title track, must be among the quietest

recorded jazz performances. Moore's "Focus" and

Hersch's eerily moving "Out Somewhere(Blues for

Matthew Sherpard)" are lovely as well. On both alto and

clarinet Moore has a small, pretty, vibratoless tone. He's a

melodic player, sounding like a latter day Paul Desmond

at the beginning of "Focus". Hersch plays qracefully and

even more lightly than Wintsch. He's picked up ideas from

a variety of pianists, including Monk, and blends them

cohesively. Though there are spirited performances on

Focus, including Moore's bossa nova "Fim de In-verno"

and Hemingway's Monkish "En Tee", more visceral

playing from Moore and Hersch wouldn't have hurt; at

times this CD suffers from a lack of energy. But on both

albums Hemingway puts on a clinic; he's a master colorist

and keeps things moving without playing loudly or stating

the beat explicitly.

Harvey Pekar


Michel Wintsch Trio.

Leo Records 282. Durée: 58'41.

Dès les premières notes, on sent une très grande

maîtrise du piano, et son approche du trio est des plus

intéressantes. C'est par moment des plus charmants,

"Anne Marie" par exemple. Ses deux acolytes, avec qui il

doit collaborer depuis un certain temps, sont d'une

efficacité redoutable. En définitive, le trio reste dans une

forme de continuité, mais avec une volonté de se projeter

dans la modernité mélodique et là on ne peut qu'y

souscrire puisque la réussite est flagrante.

JAZZMAn * * *


1 CD Leo Records LR 282 - Distribué par Orkestrâ. Prix

indicatif non communiqué.

Le pianiste et compositeur Michel Wintsch brasse de

nombreux genres musicaux un peu en marge du jazz:

travaux autour de Bartòk et de Marguerite Yourcenar par

exemple, et surtout forte attirance pour l'univers

cinématographique avec des musiques pour Alain Tanner

ou autour de Tarkovsky. Pour ce disque, il a choisi de

jouer la carte du trio jazz piano-basse-batterie et de jouer

sur les conventions attachées à cette formule éprouvée. Il

en résulte, sur un répertoire entièrement original, une

musique très mélodique, assez ouverte et descriptive,

comprenant des passages post-romantiques. Bref, un

genre que certains, et non des moindres, ont remis à la

mode ces dernières années. On appréciera la

participation du batteur Gerry Hemingway, qui travaille

souvent avec Wintsch et qui apporte ici quelque

éclatement tout en gardant toujours un tempo régulier

sous-tendu. Si Michel Wintsch ne semble pas avoir un

langage pianistique très défini, il apparaît néanmoins

comme un musicien de premier ordre. Et l'on sent chez lui

l'amour du clavier.

Jean Buzelin


Boy, I'd have thought that the new WHO album would

have gotten more advance notice. You see, because of

the band, and the first letters of their last names are

spelled out in white on the CD cover, and -- it's funny!

Woo. This is the last time I play Poughkeepsie. Anyway,

this CD is like toast. You know, if you're hungry,. and

somebody hands you a piece of toast, you're not going to

go, "eeww toast!" No, you'll eat it. But at the same time,

you don't, wake up at three. a'clock in the morning and

say, "I gotta have toast!" There's a lot to like here, is what

I'm saying: Wintsch is a skilled pianist who can put

pictures of Evans, Taylor, and Tristano out of his wallet,

he's an able tunesmith, and Gerry Hemingway remains

Gerry Hemingway. But the thing that's missing is the

mistakes. I see a hand waving from the town hall floor; by

definition, isn't it impossible for free jazz to contain

mistakes ? Ah, a common misconception, my young

plebe. To root out its source, we must put the word

"mistake up on a pillar and examine it undercarriage. I

have always opined that a "mistake" is not necessarily

something that shouldn't be done, but rather something

that was not included in the original programm. How well it

seems to work in the aftermath of events is immaterial to

its classification as a mistake. And therein lies the

problem with this CD; there's no room for mistakes in

Wintsch's world. The playing is impeccable; Wintsch

skillfully blends bop lines with more challenging atonal


stuff, and Oester and Hemingway are right there every

step of the way (duh, like Hemingway couldn't do a date

like this in his sleep). The tunes are eventful, and clever,

and to give the record its due, it's never boring. But I

honestly can't see myself coming back to this too many

times. It's like those, albums by all the neo-bop cats we all

bitch about, where the old songs are played reverently,

and there's not a note out of place, but there is no sense

of "over the hill, grunts, ya wanna live forever ?" to it. And

if you're not going to include that, then what's the point of

escaping from the treble clef in the first place?

Mike Zimbouski


Dist. Improjazz

Pour avoir dédié un disque entier au cinéaste Andreï

Tarkovsky et signé de nombreuses musiques de films

pour Alain Tanner, on se doute que la musique de Michel

Wintsch aime à s'imprégner d'accents et d'accords

contemplatifs. Identity fait l'éloge du jazz ternaire et du trio

sacré piano, contrebasse, batterie. Ici la part belle est

donnée aux compositions du pianiste; limpidité du

discours, évidence de l'écriture, variété des timbres et

précision du jeu. C'est d'ailleurs cette dernière que l'on

remarque d'entrée; chez le leader d'abord, pianiste

sensible et sobre (voire sombre), chez Bänz Oester

ensuite, contrebassiste à l'archet prometteur, chez Gerry

Hemingway enfin, flamboyant rythmicien au groove inouï,

musicien jusqu'au bout des balais et baguettes. A suivre É

Luc Bouquet

Improjazz 66


Gerry Hemingway is a percussionist who I would travel a

long way to hear. His work with Anthony Braxton and

Marilyn Crispell enabled those two fast-track minds of

music to interact with a drummer who was able to keep up

with them in thought, word and deed. In fact Gerry

Hemingway did not merely stay the distance, he gave a

shape and order to their performances without confining

the great breadth that is inherent in their individual visions.

This recording with Swiss based pianist and composer

Michel Wintsch is a different kind of thing. It may not be

visionary but it is nonetheless a provocative place to hear.

Gerry Hemingway at work. "Identity" is essentially about

the jazz piano trio continuum. In new century time that

means Keith Jarrett wearing the clothes of Bud Powell

and Marilyn Crispell handing out Bill Evans lines. Ms

Crispell has already successfully experimented in the

place where her old sparing partner now finds himself on

this Leo session. Her ECM recording of Annette Peacock

tunes, "Nothing Ever Was, Anyway", with the bass and

drums team of Gary Peacock and Paul Motian, remains a

startling take on integrated jazz studies. Gerry

Hemingway's work here, with Michel Wintsch and Bänz

Oester, now sounds like another fresh attempt at this

know medium. Mr Hemingway decides to swing. I would

love to hear what French pianist Martial Solal thinks about


I am not aware that I have ever heard Mr Wintsch before

getting my ears around this release. It seems to me that

what we have here is a contemporary European pianist

who knows his Bill Evans collection off by heart. Not only

does he know it, he has been brave enough to get Mr

Hemingway to direct the drums into the same territory

inhabited by Paul Motian in Mr Evans' classic Trio. Piano

and percussion are engaged. This is swing with a ring,

able to pause way out on a limb before hitting a

collapsable brick wall straight back into the composition.

Mixing metaphors is easy in these surroundings. On a

piece like "Anne Marie S", Gerry Hemingway trades each

note for a cymbal accent that clips the melody into time

and surrounds it with a shimmer of dancing echo.

Conversely on "Looking For Rest", the drums make subtle

strikes at the melody line building their counterpoint

around the theme as if it requires something harder and

more solid than the piano reading allows.

If that last statement makes it sound like I am suggesting,

Michel Wintsch is lest than forthcoming then that would be

quite wrong. He does have a habit though of creeping up

on a tune, then firing fingerd down the keyboard in a

sweep clean policy. On a tune like "NT" the Trio create a

rush of collective interaction built on the pianist's ability to

spring romanticism into a blue vein of elongated

structures. Michel Wintsch reminds me of his American

contempories, Fred Hersch and Brad Meldau, who also

deal with the Bill Evans version of space and time. Unlike

Mr Hersch and Mr Meldau, Michel Wintsch has placed

himself in a setting where his compatriots balance on the

edge of abstract. Sure they swing, like a punch. At this

juncture, jazz could be dead if musicians are not prepared

to get out from underneath the weight of the medium's

own relatively short history. It is easier said that done.

Last year Fred Hersch made a duo recording with the

wonderfull Bill Frisell that attemped to get a new angle on

the kind of statements previously made by Mr Evans and

guitarist, Jim Hall. Unfortunately their plans ended up as

neither re-creation or invention. The session literally

slipped through their fingers because it got too near an

exercise in tribute. Michel Wintsch, Gerry Hemingway and

Bänz Oester do not fall into that kind of trap. This CD

sounds like three musicians slowly, but deliberately,

building a new design out of their own take on what has

gone before. I guess the title "Identity" is crucial. It is

about being able to recognise yourself amongest the glare

of mirror images of past masters. I am not claiming that

these three are the saviours of jazz, Wynton Marsalis can

have a clear run at that exercise. What I do suggest is that

this new Trio recording is a valuable contribution to the

process of re-evaluating what we understand of this

particular corner of jazz. It sounds real good to me.

Steve Day



Identitätsprobleme haben diese drei gebildeten Musiker

in keinster Weise. Denn sie wissen was sie tun und

wollen. Ratio und Intellekt werden hier wunderbar

austariert. Sensible Lustbarkeit an nicht Mainstream

kompatiblen Ausdrucksformen bestimmt ihren

kontemplativen Exkurs. Europäische Kunstmusikästhetik

und Kunstfertigkeiten von Jazzformalismen der letzten 5

Jahrzehnte, beides eigens aufbereitet, umschlingen sich

mit intelligenter Logik und lassen einander auf natürliche

Weise zu. Die Zündfunken entspringen der spontanen

Kreativität, die sich mit sublimer Energie ihre Wege bahnt.


By Glenn Astarita

Identity is yet another fine piano trio recording brought to

us by “Leo Records” featuring the expertise of pianist

Michel Wintsch, bassist Ban Oester and all-world

drummer-composer Gerry Hemingway. Here each

musician contributes compositions that run the gamut

from being tightly integrated or classically tinged such as

Wintsch’ “Choucas” and “Anne-Marie S” along with spotty

doses of congenial swing motifs and gleaming tonal

contrasts all performed via a well-mannered and orderly

approach. On

Hemingway’s composition “NT”, Wintsch displays a

massive yet eloquently stated percussive attack behind

the keys along with a lightning quick right hand. The Trio

also explore various themes via sharp, brilliantly executed

improvisation on pieces such as “Link” where

Hemingway’s sweeping brush-work sets an unusual

pattern followed by Wintsch’ circular passages. “Driving

Home” is a moderate swing in the classic piano trio mold

as Wintsch’ employs soulful passages that may fit

somewhere in between Junior Mance and Monk as

Oester and Hemingway stretch out with poignant wellexecuted


Identity is persuasive, distinctive and at times striking as

these musicians fuse their individual talents from a

compositional and technical perspective which adds a

nice touch of diversity along with a few surprises here and

there. Throughout, the band state their collective identities

in outward and for the most part, glistening fashion while

providing the listener with captivating themes along with

zealous soloing and a compelling sense of unity. A first

class effort and thoroughly modernistic approach to the

beloved piano trio format! Recommended...........* * * *