This is great stuff played by musicians sensitive to each other.
Laura Schuler – violin, vocals, composition, FX; Tony Malaby – tenor saxophone; Hanspeter Pfammatter – synths; Lionel Friedli – drums
New York City can be exasperating. Traffic and honking horns kept me up all night the last time I was in Manhattan. Laura Schuler used the stress of a three month stay in the Big Apple as inspiration for her intriguing new album, Sueños Paralelos.
Sueños Paralelos translates to parallel dreams. Parallel dreams? Maybe learning as much as you can in New York and combining that will all you’ve learned in your home country Switzerland?
Laura Schuler was studying classical violin at seven. In her twenties she got into jazz, improvised music, and composing.
Schuler’s compositions are complex. They’re fanciful. Time signatures change abruptly. You won’t hear traffic or honking horns on Sueños Paralelos but you may catch yourself wondering what that last sound was.
‘When Everything Falls Into Place’ is a tune with shifting melodies and unexpected meter changes. Besides the violin Laura will use wordless singing. It’s not scatting. It can sound melancholy, but it does add another layer.
New York saxophonist Tony Malaby’s experience playing both inside and outside make him a perfect fit for this group. Malaby and Schuler play with each other and off one another. Hanspeter Pfammatter synthesizers are full of surprises. They can sound like a Fender Rhodes, or a keyboard being played outside in the rain, something mechanical, or, even animal noises. Drummer Lionel Friedli fills the drum chair with panache. He’s got the power of a rock drummer but you can tell from the smile on his face he enjoys experimental music. There are a lot of YouTube videos of the Laura Schuler Quartet.
‘One For The Dreamers ’is just that. It’s hypnotic. It may be the prettiest tune on the album even with all the electronic sounds swirling around.
‘Baby It’s Free Jazz ’isn’t Albert Ayler trying to blow you out of your seat. There’s a lot of tension and back and forth. The synthesizers are having a good time and the snap of Friedli’s drums is very cool. This is great stuff played by musicians sensitive to each other.
I can’t call Laura Schuler a jazz violinist and it wouldn’t be fair to say she’s classical. She plays in both worlds and tries to put a different spin on both. So many musicians today are trying to combine jazz with classical music. This is different. Her compositions aren’t completely planned and they’re not totally free either. There’s just enough planning in SUENOS PARALELOS to give us songs with a sense of meaning; however unspecified.
Reviewed by Tim Larsen