Out of Land (ACT Music)

Parisien – Peirani – Schaerer – Wollny

Released May 2017

Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2017






A supergroup of European jazz – that’s the name given to the quartet in which the Swiss singer Andreas Schaerer, the German pianist Michael Wollny, the French accordionist Vincent Peirani and his compatriot on soprano saxophone, Emile Parisien, have come together. Twelve ECHO Jazz Awards alone unite them and in their home countries they have won almost every important award. With the live album “Out of Land” they are now proving together that they are at the forefront of the jazz generation between the ages of 30 and 40: because they are redefining the possibilities of their instrument and expanding the boundaries of jazz.

Peirani is the link of this summit meeting consisting of musically equals, he has already played with the other three and now brought them together here. Parisien is a soul mate and almost inseparable companion of Peirani anyway. The accordionist has already played in the trio of his “Thrill Box” -ACT debut with Wollny, and in the duo “Tandem” he enters into “a ravishing liaison of enchanting musicality” (Der Tagesspiegel). Schaerer finally met Peirani two years ago when he came on stage as a special guest at a “Hildegard Learns to Fly” concert in Paris. Although desired, there has been no further collaboration since then due to lack of time. Until Schaerer now received invitations with a carte blanche to Budapest and Bern, where he finally brought Peirani into play. Who in turn brought Parisien and Wollny to …

But what is the name of the child? Schaerer sent Peirani a list of suggested titles for the project, including the open “Out of …”. “Vincent replied with ‘Out of Land’ and that was it,” recalls Schaerer. That sounded like the ideal way of leaving safe terrain, for something that you don’t yet know exactly how it will turn out to be. Because that was part of the concept: to stay open to the ideas of others and to keep the tension of making music at the moment. There were three days of rehearsals without preparation, and then we went together on the concert stage. As Schaerer explains: “It is simply a dream, an almost spiritual form of making music, when you can spontaneously respond to your inner visions and communicate them transparently. And these musicians can do it! “What begins with Andreas Schaerer, one of the greatest improvisers among active jazz singers. He is a brilliant vocal artist who can make his organ sound in a wide variety of registers and styles. And someone who can generate all conceivable noises and imitate all kinds of instruments, including drums.

The culmination of his career so far was probably the work “The Big Wig” for a 66-piece symphony orchestra, which premiered at the Lucerne Festival in autumn 2015 and was enthusiastically acclaimed, the recording of which also marks his ACT debut. Although a few years younger, 36-year-old accordionist Vincent Peirani from Nice can keep up. He has also received numerous awards in the past three years, from the “Prix Django Reinhardt” to the “Victoires du Jazz” to ECHO Jazz and has become a figurehead for young French jazz. What he elicits button accordion and accordina has never been heard before. Like Schaerer, he draws on a wide variety of genres in his projects – from jazz, chanson and world music to classical and heavy rock. Peirani’s brother in spirit is Emile Parisien, not only because he, too, can freely improvise on disparate material from Wagner to hip-hop. Like Schaerer the vocals and Peirani the accordion, he too has taken his instrument technically and compositionally into new spheres. Which can also be said for Michael Wollny’s piano playing. Whether in a duo with the saxophone veteran and Albert Mangelsdorff companion Heinz Sauer or in his own trio, with his always imaginative, always surprising play, the “talent of the century” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) has advanced into the very small group of German jazz musicians with an international reputation.

Their partly first encounter on “Out of Land” (Wollny and Schaerer had never played together before) are now full of irrepressible energy. “We deliberately did not stick to a lot of what we had discussed in rehearsals on stage,” explains Schaerer, “because the music just wanted something different at the moment. With this band it works, you just start flying. And when you start with Peirani’s ‘Air Song’ you can fly with them, that’s how strong the emotional power of this melodic miniature is. Overwhelming dynamics and rhythm characterize the ‘B&H’, also from Peirani. Wollny’s ‘Kabinett V’ is an overwhelming pleasure in sound experimentation. The joint creative infusion at Schaerer’s ‘Rezeusler’ is particularly impressive: The piece, originally composed as a ballad for orchestra on the basis of a sextet up-tempo number, becomes a completely new-sounding quartet suite. One after the other, Peirani’s accordion, Schaerer’s voice and Wollny’s piano circle the subject in an impressionistic and spherical manner, before all four join the heartfelt finale. These four arch musicians say goodbye with the almost 14 minutes long ‘Ukuhamba’, which bundles everything almost like a jam session. A summit meeting that is a hard-to-beat plea for the fascination of improvisation and for the power of live jazz. before all four join the heartfelt finale.

Track Listing:

1. Air Song (Vincent Peirani) 4:35

2. B&H (Vincent Peirani) 9:55

3. Kabinett V (Michael Wollny) 9:12

4. Rezeusler (Andreas Schaerer) 10:19

5. Ukuhamba (Andreas Schaerer) 13:38


Emile Parisien: soprano saxophone
Vincent Peirani: accordion
Andreas Schaerer: voice & mouth percussion
Michael Wollny: piano

Recorded live in concert, April 10, 2016, at bee-flat Bern
Produced by the artists
Executive Producer: Siggi Loch
Mixed and mastered by Martin Ruch
Cover art © Neo Rauch, Unter Feuer (detail), 2010
by kind permission of the artist, courtesy Eigen + Art, Berlin / Leipzig


Though this was the first performance by this intriguing line-up in Bern in 2016, it is already being hailed a supergroup. And with good reason. Between them, this hugely talented group of thirty-somethings have won 12 German ECHO awards – and let’s not kid ourselves here, the ECHO award given by the Deutsche Phono-Akademie, an association of recording companies, is to recognise outstanding achievement on record and is a big deal in Europe – placing them among the crème de la crème of European jazz musicians. Parisien and Peirani are leading exhibits on the Paris jazz scene, Schaerer from Switzerland is one of the great singing improvisers of our time while Michael Wollny’s shooting star career into the top ranks of European jazz has been a thing to behold. What is remarkable in the light of these performances is that neither Wollny or Schaerer had previously played together before three days of rehearsal prior to the concert. Yet what emerges is a series of five highly interactive, in-the-blink-of-an-eye give-and-take creations where each individual performer is charged with sustaining the creative moment in solo without upsetting the symmetry of the collective whole. In other words, they don’t go off in pursuit of their own creative muse that may or may not fit the context of what has been created collectively, but work within its parameters. During the course of these remarkable performances each musician seems intent in raising the bar of collective interaction so that what emerges is something that exceeds the sum of its component parts. Climaxed by ‘Ukuhamba’, an audacious 14-minute epic, it demands recognition for the triumph of spontaneously conceived jazz improvisation it is. 

Stuart Nicholson (Jazzwise)