Plays Swinging Mahagonny

BY Metronome Quinteet



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Available as 6-page digipack & LP. Legendary first Modern Jazz Album by the Swiss Metronome Quintet, recorded 1965 and 1967 in Zurich, with saxophonist Bruno Spoerri, pianist Martin Hugelshofer and vibraphonist Ueli Staub. Lost LP including Spoerri’s unique jazz arrangements based on motifs of the music for “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” by Kurt Weill, together with some own tunes played in an exceptional style by one of the few European highclass ensembles of the era. First-time resurrection of a missing jazz record on the Swiss Columbia label, comes in an unmistakeable remastered sound, 1:1 reissue with original cover artwork and liner notes.

Liner Notes of the original LP by Jan Slawe (1967):

Joy of creative experimentation, epicurean variation of melodies, harmonies and forms, rhythms: these are the things and processes why the Jazz Friends love “their” music for decades – often regardless of the style changes that are taking place within remarkably short periods of time. If a rudimentary style or a particular repertoire of subjects solidify, then the vitality and continuity of real jazz is in danger. The musicians of the Metronome Quintet became aware of these connections over the years, intellectually or instinctively, since they operate on the stage of the Swiss and European jazz life with an admirable balance of their artistic level.

This new recording series of the ensemble provides a representative cross-section of today’s sounds from their diverse repertoire. With the six pieces by Kurt Weill’s music for “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” by Bertolt Brecht (premiered in Leipzig on March 9, 1930) the musicians fall back on a treasure of opera themes almost exclusively known to the music historian. Bruno Spoerri formed jazz-rich subjects from the “songs” of the work, which – appearing after they indicated at the beginning of each piece as almost direct quotations – are processed to rich variations. The ratio of arrangement and improvisation is well balanced, and the sound features of the movements and choruses can be felt just as clearly as the general musical skills such as the jazz sensorium and the right “feeling” of the quintet, and each of its members.

“Jazz it up” then? The thorny issue of borrowing “classic” tunes for the jazz use – it is no longer a problem here. The themes are not stolen (and Kurt Weill’s music is not treated irreverently), but they only serve as an inspiration, as the basis of a new creative process. Moreover to date, these recordings – which were in fact already broadcasted by Radio Zurich and the West German Radio (WDR) – probably serve as the only promising attempt to wrest Kurt Weill’s original and interesting music from the past and update it. You can even make friends with the fact that the latter (jazz) pieces bear the cheeky original German titles, because music, as we know, will not become more jazz-like, if one provides them with English titles. All that matters is the “how” of making music.

About the other six titles: They are in some ways probably more typical for the personal style of the Metronome Quintet and perhaps more varied in themselves. Composed and arranged completely independently of unfamiliar jazz templates, these small works reflect the whole gamut of personality of the Metronome Quintet. The penchant for ostinato, riff-like figures in the accompanying parts, the “elasticity” of the group (from duo to full quintet), the discrete return to the history of jazz, the few major solo cadenzas, the ritardandi and diminuendos within some final bars – all that combined with exemplary ensemble discipline, with sovereignty of the solos and secure musicality, makes the style of the Metronome Quintet, as we use to like it for years.

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