CD: ABOUT

1998, percaso production CD 023 // 13 Tracks // 48:04
Musicians Christoph Gallio soprano & alto sax // Dominique Girod double bass // Dieter Ulrich drums // Production notes All copositions are by Christoph Gallio (exept T5 Dieter Ulrich) // Recorded at Radiostudio Zurich by Martin Pearson, 1997 August 2 & 3 // Edited and mixed at Elephant Chatâteau Studio in Basel by Max Spielmann // Mastered by Peter Pfister // Coproduced by Schweizer Radio DRS 2 // Liner notes by John Corbett // Graphic design by Anne Hoffmann // Cover art by Beat Streuli

Samples

  1. DIOR p
  2. MADAGASKAR p
  3. K'S DREAM p
  4. STARS p
  5. KURT'S TUNE p
  6. DUSTY CORNERS p

Liner notes

JOHN CORBETT, CHICAGO

about

About-face.

About remembering the face of a sound.

Too easy to forget one earlier apex of creative music - the mid- and late-70s, when records like Steve Lacy's capers and David Murray's 3-D Family and Julius Hemphill's Raw Materials and Residuals rocked our world. Trio records. Ensembles built of triangulation, uncanny ability to size things up from a distance via magic number three. Same number whose powers were tested on ur-texts of free music like Ayler's Spiritual Unity and Ornette's Golden Circle recordings.

About three.

Conference calls, triplicate lines converging at one switchboard, the trio Day & Taxi becoming a living entity of its own, a three-bodied operator directing the communication. Christoph Gallio's tunes, the hard cables of such communication, controlling the flow of information rather than defining its content. The head to "Madagaskar" - a single connective thread linking about to its six-year-old predecessor All - supports a lilting line with simple seeming tricky timing, but it opens up for improvisations all around, loose limbed and joyous. Dieter Ulrich's spare, crisp, uncluttered drumming both coloring and powering the threesome. Leader Gallio eking out a short, sweet solo, "Kurt's Tune," his Lacy-ish tone positively blooming. Irony of "Lindsay's New Tune" (written for former bassist Lindsay L. Cooper) that it's played by the new bassist, confident Dominique Girod, whose work with J-F Jenny Clark has left him full of ideas and entirely capable of expressing them in the context of composed and improvised structures.

About structures.

Straightforward structures, like: A section B section and out. The happy sound of a mean ostinato groove under a horn line. More thoughts of '70s trios, like Air. "K's Dream" recalls the fluidity of that group with seamless, unforced exchange between scripted and free play. Gallio and crew reserve a place for the predetermined by including several through-composed pieces ("Dior," "And Thine," even the saxophonist's "Kurt's Tune") that the group refers to as postcards - quick take on an idea, no elaboration, just the one or two lines jotted down and sent along as such. (Reminds me that Lacy was very upset when his record Straws came out and the producers at Cramps records had mistakenly left the improvised section out of "Feline," his portrait of Marilyn Monroe, so the theme just repeated a few times, then stopped; in the context of the otherwise wooly, experimental record the minimalist result is fascinating in spite of itself.) "Fall In Ellipses" is a slightly more involved postcard, more like a quick letter or love note. Free? Written? What matter is it? Doing what's called for, no fear - that's the job. What's happened to the gains made in that era of new architecture? The legacy is left to a few diligent souls, who try to push it ahead, working towards another apex of creative music while remembering the earlier one's face.

About time.

No refusal of pulse. Gentle embrace of meters, some suggested by Girod and thwarted by Ulrich ("Stars"), some openly promulgated by the three-bodied beast ("Inside M"). About taking time, relaxing, not rushing but feeling the space of the music. 1. All 2. about Feeling the space of the music. That's about all. What it's all about.

John Corbett, Chicago, July 1998

Reviews

MUSIC SCENE, LUKAS GÖTZ

DAY & TAXI, ein Jazz-Trio aus der Schweiz, welches musikalisch miteinander kommuniziert. Aktiver Austausch von Rhythmik und Dynamik, fernab jeglicher Melodie. Die Stücke wirken wie Skizzen. Schöpferische Entwürfe, welche abstrakte Klangkörper entstehen lassen und erneut Raum für Inspiration geben. Spannend, weil unvorhersehbar. Unvorhersehbar, weil die Kompositionen nicht einengen, sondern den Dingen freien Lauf lassen. Erinnerungen an den Jazz der Siebziger weden wach: Albert Ayler, Steve Lacy, Sam Rivers, Ornette Coleman. Musik, so zeitlos, dass sie immer wieder neu und unerwartet wirkt. Wie DAY & TAXI.**heiss** 

RADIOMAGAZIN, JÜRG SOLOTHURNMANN

Dosierte Leidenschaft. Sorgfältig und ausdauernd sind sie schon seit längerem am Werk, der Zürcher Saxophonist Christoph Gallio, der Schlagzeuger Dieter Ulrich und das neue junge Bassist-Talent Dominique Girod. Einst inspiriert von Konzeptkunst und melodischen Architekten wie Steve Lacy und Ornette Coleman, hat Gallio einen persönlichen, sehr gesanglichen Sound gefunden und balanciert zwischen zwischen der Gemessenheit rigider Form und freier Fortspinnung. Die eigenwilligen Themen verwachsen mit der kammermusikalischen Improvisation, die verschiedene unerwartete Wegen gehen. Unter dieser Gemessenheit brodelt es, und zuweilen bricht das Saxophon in leidenschaftliche Rufgesänge auf. Nicht "ernste" Musik und auch nicht "sauglatte", aber transparent und tief. 

DIE SÜDOSTSCHWEIZ, DOMENIC BUCHLI

Der Saxophonist Christoph Gallio hegt und pflegt sein Eigenlabel "percaso" über Jahre mit grösster Hingabe und Sorge. Doch damit alleine ist die Musik nicht gerechtfertigt oder gar gerettet. Sie ist es letztlich, die den Zuhörer zu überzeugen hat. Das vollbringt die Einspielung von "about" auf dermassen überzeugende Art und Weise, Frische und Originalität, dass man fast zu glauben beginnt die klassische Trio-Form im Jazz sei eben erst erfunden worden. Zudem garantieren die drei Musiker alleine mit ihrem Namen für Qualität. 

SKUG, ALFRED PRANZL

Die Schweiz bringt immer wieder Kapazunder hervor, die in Österreich nicht gar so bekannt sind, jedoch durch kontinuierliche Arbeit beeindrucken. So betreibt Christoph Gallio das feine, kleine Label percaso production, das mit DAY & TAXI „about“ die siebzehnte Produktion seit 1986 vorlegt. Wobei das Cover, das Gesichter junger Menschen aus Enghien-les-Bains abbildet, vermutlich auf die Offenheit der Musik verweisen will. Gallio, Girod und Ulrich werfen kurze Ideenskizzen ein, spielen aber auch längere, notierte Stücke mit Improvisationsabzweigungen; etwa „Lindsay‘s New Tune“, das Lindsay L. Cooper, dem früheren Bassisten von DAY & TAXI, gewidmet ist und wie einige weitere Cuts den Geist der aus den frühen 70ern stammenden Trio-Arbeiten von Steve Lacy, David Murray und Julius Hemphill beschwört. 

BLOW UP, ETERO GENIO

Prima o poi tutte le certezze sono destinate a cadere come foglie morte. Fino a oggi ero convinto che una brutta copertina non poteva contenere un bel disco ed ecco tra le mani una confezione orrenda come la fame che racchiude una piccola delizia. Day & Taxi è la creatura di Christoph Gallio, un soprano/altosassofonista di Zurigo già collaboratore eccellente di Irene Schweizer, Peter Kowald, Bern Nix, Fred Frith, Kazutoki Umezu, Phil Minton, Samm Bennett, William Parker, Uchihashi Kazuhisa ... La musica di Gallio (in questa occasione accompagnato dal contrabbasso di Dominique Girod e dal set percussivo di Dieter Ulrich) è un jazz descrivibile con la parola dis-in-canto, che già i due minuti scarsi della prima bellissima traccia Dior mettono a fuoco alla perfezione. Queste ance sono animate dallo stesso spirito che a suo tempo aveva dettato le limpide geometrie di Julius Hemphill, Steve Lacy e del misconosciuto Byron Allen. Non mancano influenze classiche, in questo senso possiamo usare la parola cool, ma le atmosfere sono hot, anche se i tre si muovono con circospezione, senza abbandonarsi a baccanali da festa paesana e puntando senz'altro all'oblio, e diffondono about una tiepida sensazione di disgelo. 

JAZZ NOTE SDP, KEN BLANCHARD

I've had About by Day & Taxi sitting way down on my eMusic wish list for maybe a year. It went on the list for the same reason as all its neighbors: The Penguin Guide to Jazz. I am not sure quiet why I finally got around to it. It may have had something to do with the beguiling photo on the cover. At any rate, it is a real find, exactly the kind of thing you are going to like, if you like that sort of thing.
Day & Taxi is a trio led by Swiss soprano saxophonist Christoph Gallio. On the 1998 release, Dominique Girod plays bass and Dieter Ulrich is on drums. Saxophone trios aren't common and do not seem to command a large audience. They tend to empty the air around them like some ancient bard and lean heavily toward the moody and abstract. Playing soprano sax does nothing to reverse the direction. It is no wonder that sax trios almost always play avant garde jazz.
On the other hand, I cannot thing of another sort of jazz combo that is so perfect for weaving a muscular narrative. Ken Vandermark's DKV trio, which I reviewed recently, is a good example. When a fine sax trio gets going on a theme, it can generate drama faster than a drum and flute with a real, live army behind 'em. I thought that About is the closest anyone has come to catching up with the genius of Steve Lacy. I put the best cut on the album, 'Madagaskar', up on my Jazz Note station. You could pass it off as a Lacy trio. The same is true of most of the cuts.
Day & Taxi is a marvelous trio, well worth your while. Gallio is a very thoughtful storyteller. Girod and Ulrich provide a lot of thunder and tremor at all the dramatic moments. This is splendid avant garde jazz. 

IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION, ROTCOD ZZAJ AKA DICK METCALF

Ev’ry time I get new music in from Christoph Gallio (th’ soprano & alto saxophonist & sorta’ “leader” of Day & Taxi), it’s cause for excitement & celebration! Trio format on this CD go-round, featuring Christoph’s supreme blowin’ against Dominique Girod on double bass & Dieter Ulrich on drums. If ever there were musical menage-a-trois – this is IT – it’s a marriage made in improvisor heaven! Christoph’s playing this year sounds much more mature somehow… phrases are clear throughout, longer sustained sermons, if you will. I missed him on his 1998 tour (due to th’trialz/tribz of that ol’ “day-job”, somethin’ we’re all plagued with), but you can BET I’ll be at th’ new one in 2000! This CD is only a sign of better things to come from Christoph. Not only gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating – it’s also the PICK of this issue for “best improv saxophone”! SOLID improvisation with real BODY! 

BAD ALCHEMY, RIGOBERT DITTMANN

Ein ganz anderer Saxophonist begegnet einem auf about, Christoph Gallio, absolut cool, lässig und lacyesk, mit seinem in Zürich beheimateten Trio DAY & TAXI. Der Titel „about“ suggeriert eine Haltung des Als-ob, ein Darüberstehen, eine Metaebene, eine gewisse Distanz. Aber dieses Über-den-Dingen-Schweben ist keine Oberflächlichkeit, keine Unverbindlichkeit. Der Prozess des Schwebens verlangt vielmehr eine eigene grosse Kunstfertigkeit, eine flüssige Beweglichkeit, wie sie vielleicht einem fragilen Dreieck ohne klares oben und unten, ohne Basis und Spitze, zueigen ist. Für den jungen Girod ist es das Debut. Ulrich hat etwa mit Sunnymoon, Jacques Siron oder Daniel Mouthon getrommelt und war schon 1988 in der DAY & TAXI-Urformation mit Blöchlinger und L.L. Cooper dabeigewesen. Stationen von Gallios eigener Karriere lassen sich am besten anhand seiner Veröffentlichungen, die auf dem in Eigenregie betriebenen Percasolabel erschienen sind, nachzeichnen. Alles an „about“ strahlt Souveränität aus und die Heiterkeit des scheinbar anstrengungslosen Gelingens. Gerade diese Musik, die sich ihrer selbst so bewusst ist, ist keine Musik ,über‘ etwas, ist kein Cezannescher Meta-Apfel, keine bloss gemalte Pfeiffe von Magritte, keine kommentarbedürftige ,aboutness‘ von Artur C. Danto, sondern wie ein direkter Blick, den du auf der Haut spürst und den du gern spürst, aber nicht festhalten kannst. Gallios Sopran- und Altosaxlinien, Ulrich Percussionstupfer und Giros Bassswing wirken wie japanische Kalligraphie oder wie Picassos Lichtskitzze, gleichzeitig flüchtig hingeworfen und definitiv, jetzt ein Stier in der Luft, im nächsten Augenblick schon verglühte Vergangenheit. Allerdings eine Art Vergangenheit, die im Gedächtnis bleibt: Ornette im Golden Circle, Jimmy Giuffre, Steve Lacy ... das beste Wort dafür ist ,schön‘. 

REVUE & CORRIGEE, MARIE-PIERRE BONNIOL

Enfin, finissons notre tournée des éclopés multi-createurs par „About“ de DAY & TAXI dont la pochette, magnifique,est illustrée par Beat Streuli le shooter des rues, le traqueur de midinettes rousses et de jeunes blacks bagouzés. Le trio helvète sait tuer ses pères (Maslak, Lacy), manger leurs chairs humaines et faire péter la baraque du free avec des mélodies sensibles „comme ça!“. De là à réconcilier la caillera des cités avec l‘anti-thèse de Sydney Bechet, pourquoi pas. Ils ont beau avoir des yeux qu‘ils ont pas sourd pour autant.

THE WIRE, ANDY HAMILTON

DAY & TAXI are on a Swiss label but the trio‘s background is unknown to me. Their music is mostly less muscular, often melancholic but still propulsive. Christoph Gallio on soprano and alto is influenced by Steve Lacy‘s line and note choices, but his tone is lighter and fluffier. Dominique Girod on bass and Dieter Ulrich on drums complete the trio. Great compositions by Gallio and an immensely assured set of performances make this an outstanding release. 

MUSINGS, RICHARD COCHRANE

Having been around for over a decade, this Swiss-basedtrio plays intelligent jazz with a loose, supple feel. The compositions – all but one are by Gallio – move with a gentle lope through large intervallic leaps and mild dissonances, although they often mix metres to excellent effect. These provide jumping-off points for improvisations which are firmly based on the solo-plus-accompaniment model but which are just as firmly removed from considerations of changes playing or modal forms. This is,as John Corbett implies in his uncharacteristically sketchy sleeve notes, creative music which remembers its own history without being enslaved to it. Gallio’s tone is nasal but light, as if he were playing some kind of Middle-Eastern oboe. His playing is angular but always logical, and rarely given to fireworks. Indeed, Gallio seems to prefer to follow notes around at a leisurely pace, with his slow vibrato and tendency to scoop his notes up and toss them into the air. This doesn’t mean he avoids extremes, however; indeed, he’s clearly well-versed in the more “extended” techniques available on the saxophone. He uses them sparingly, integrating them into his playing with the intention of creating an organic connection with his straighter style. It works: on “Lindsay’s New Tune”, Gallio can be heard mixing up all kinds of techniques without ever dropping the thread he so carefully spins out when playing. Girod sounds full and sumptuous here, and his playing is full of ideas. Virtually everything he plays, even the most casual gesture, has a studied funkiness about it; virtually every bar could be a riff in its own right. When he picks up the bow, he takes a more abstract turn (as is so often the case), but never turns his back completely on the melodic and rhythmic world which the trio likes to inhabit. Fortunately, he gets a lot of solo space, playing alongside Ulrich, whose springy rhythms suit him perfectly. Mostly Ulrich plays time, but he does so with such a relaxed swing that often it’s implied rather than stated, or else the ride cymbal provides the only apparent reference-point in a swirl of complex but seemingly effortless polyrhythms.This is a sharp, clever trio who can play this rather quiet sort of free jazz – rather than the energy music which is so popular among revivalists today – with absolute conviction, making it feel very contemporary. Gallio especially is a player who I hope we’ll hear more from in the future. 

CADENCE, ROBERT IANNAPOLLO

Although all compositions are by saxophonist Gallio, the unusually named DAY & TAXI are a trio of equals. Each member has his defined side of the triangle and no one musician dominates. Gallio‘s pieces are structured mindfull of the openness the trio format can provide. The trio is also aware of the value of space. They are not afraid to have inordinately lengthy moments of silence. (I think it‘s no accident that the time between tracks seems unusually long.) The opener, „Dior“ consists of a series of unison phrases with rests of varying duration between them. „K‘s Dream“ is a ballad set in almost suspended animation. But About isn‘t all silence and abstraction. „Madagaskar“ chugs along on a unique African-derived pulse. „Stars“ is in a wide-open free rhythm. Gallio is equally facile on both horns. If his soprano shows an indebtendness to Steve Lacy in tone and phrasing, his alto is clearly his own. The keening tone and a well-placed (and not overused) vibrato make for a very effective voice. Girod‘s bass roams loose and limber through the musical landscape. Ulrich‘s drumming is open enough to give the music its sublety and spaciousness. But it‘s also assertive enough to give it a powerful drive and forward momentum. DAY & TAXI is a unique group and About is strongly recommended. 

IMPROJAZZ, FRANCESCO MARTINELLI

C'est dans des termes laudatifs que le travail du saxophoniste alto et soprano Gallio avait été remarqué dans les colonnes d'Improjazz (janvier 1995, p. 17 / julliet-août 95, p.10 / mai 96, p.22). Pour ma part, mon premier contact avec sa musique est tout récent. Cet enregistrement s'ouvre par une pièce atmospherique dont lŒintérêt réside dans le mélange, sur un rythme simple, des sonorités sales de l'alto avec celles produites à lŒarchet. Belle façon de vous couper le souffle...et le long silence qui la prolonge renforce l'allure dansante et cadencée du très lacyen morceau qui suit. C'est d'ailleurs à plusieures reprises, dans les excellentes notes du livret, que John Corbett mentionne Lacy, et tout particulièrement ses formidables „Carpers„ avec R. Boykins et D. Charles, enregistrement dont l'influence semble très forte ici. Rien de mal a cela: une tradition orale se perpétue, entre autres, par l'imitation. L'influence de Lacy (et par lui, celle de Nichols et de Monk), au-delà même de la sonorité du saxophone soprano, se ressent dans la façon qu'a Gallio de vouloir intégrer dans ses morceaux la composition (la tête) à l'intérieur de l'improvisation (le porps). Il ne s'agit donc pas d'une improvisation libre, détachée du thème, qui ne ferait que revenir à ce dernier pour clore le propos, mais plutôt d'une exploration inspirée des potentialités intrinsèques de la composition. La souplesse et la musicalité du batteur et du bassiste sont évidemment de puissante alliées de la contrebasse procurent aux saxophones un cadre tridimensionnel. La basse est particulièrement mise en valeur dans „Lindsa's New Tune„: le thème est organisé comme une suite, avec d'étranges répétitions irrégulières. Le solo du jeune Dominique Girod, accompagné aux balais par le batteur, déborde d'idées (découlant de sa formation académique) et Gallio développe un discours intense, avec une sonorité déchirée, parfois proche d'Ayler par le timbre de la distorsion des hauteurs. Au début du dernier morceau, le batteur Dieter Ulrich, par sa gestion de l'espace, adapte à merveille son style discret et mélodique à l'atmosphère de la pièce. La première étape, dans cette musique, réside dans l'imitation des modèles, mais l'instant de vérité arrive lorsque cette imitation devient le tremplin vers quelque chose de nouveau, ou plutôt vers quelque chose de réellement personnel. Ces musiciens sont déterminés à travailler sur la substance de la musique, sans truc ni clichés. Dans cette configurations classique, si attirante pour les improvisateurs de tous bords, ils parviennent à atteindre un très haut niveau d'intégration et participent de la sorte à un développement en cours. Son et production sont vraiment excellents, les brèves pièces composées sont disposées à des endroits stratégiques, comme des poteaux indicateurs, et les longs silences qui sépares les morceaux permettent de laisser la musique respirer. (Traduction de Guillaume Tarche)

RUBBERNECK, GERARD F TIERNEY

DAY & TAXI, a long-running Swiss group, features Christoph Gallio, Dieter Ulrich and newcomer Dominique Girod, who replaces Lindsay Cooper (the bass-playing one). Girod studied with Jean-François Jenny-Clark, a pretty good recommendation. He contributes much to a well-rounded trio sound, where short compositional vignettes are mixed in with looser, more open pieces. I'll allways find room fo a good sax-bass-drum trio, and this quietly persuasive CD (nicely-packaged, liner notes by the ubiquitous John Corbett), comes highly recommended. 

NEUE ZÜRCHER ZEITUNG, NICK LIEBMANN

Gallio hat mit dem Schlagzeuger Dieter Ulrich und dem Kontrabassisten Dominique Girod ein anregendes Konzept entwickelt, in dem komponierte Teile und Improvisationen nahtlos ineinander übergehen. Die Musiker des ausgesprochen transparenten Trios tasten sich entlang vorgegebener Strukturen immer weiter in freiere Gefielde vor. Bei allen Freiheiten bleibt aber immer ein klarer Bezug zum thematischen und rhythmischen Ausgangsmaterial bestehen, bei aller Flexibilität folgt man einem roten Faden. Gerade das Fehlen eines beengenden Harmonieinstrument erlaubt es dem Trio, die vielfach an zeitgenössische Musik erinnernden Melodien in überraschende Richtungen zu biegen. Der Zuhörer begleitet die drei Musiker, die aus einer Aufnahmesitzung gleich zwei spannende CD („about„ percaso/RecRec, „less and more„ UNIT/Musikvertrieb) produziert haben, gerne auf ihren kurvernreichen Pfaden, die gewissermassen einen Hör-Lernweg darstellen. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Nick Liebmann

JAZZREVIEW.CO, MARK KERESMAN

Day & Taxi are a Swiss jazz trio that puts out records that avant-jazz fans can give to their friends that might ordinarily be scared off by the likes of Peter Brotzmann or David S. Ware. Gallio's style draws on Ornette Coleman and Marion Brown for his alto playing and Steve Lacy for the straight horn, but he brings a uniquely bittersweet melodious quality to his playing that keeps him far from Copycattown. Like old Thelonious, he doesn't blitz the listener with a barrage of notes when a few well-spaced, well-placed notes will do just fine. Girod's playing is firm, probing and sinuous. Ulrich is a virtual cross between Roy Haynes and Milford Graves: swing and space, freedom and rhythm in one package. Gallio writes real compositions, not merely frameworks for "blowing" - tunes that actually invite you back for 2nd helpings. For those who think the avant garde doesn't swing/groove/have cohesiveness enough, there's Day & Taxi. Five stars, two thumbs, etc.

JAPAN