Video | Wesseltoft + Schwarz + Berglund

Video | Wesseltoft Schwarz Berglund

Watch the ambient-electronic-jazz trio live at ADE

by Joshua P. Ferguson

As a member of the Innervisions family, Henrik Schwarz is inextricably tied to warm pulse of Germany's best deep house imprint. But his original compositions have always taken the long way to the dance floor, sometimes without ever reaching it. Far from falling short, these sonic experiments are often where Schwarz's real magic lives. With his equal love of jazz, soul, and rare groove, as well as house, ambient and chill out, Schwarz casts a wide net with his music. 

Teaming with fellow boundary pusher, Norwegian pianist and composer Bugge Wesseltoft to explore the further reaches of electronic and jazz composition, Schwarz has only extended his reach further. The partnership began in 2012, with the LP Duo for Wesseltoft's Jazzland label. There, the two first solidified their captivating brand of ambient jazz, delicately adorned with the click, whir and thump of electronics. Now, with Trialogue which is due out today, the pair adds acclaimed Swedish bass man Dan Berglund to the mix to create an album that sits delicately between jazz meditation and orchestral incantation. 

Discussing it in a short film documenting the making of the record, the three talk about its birth from improvisation and the desire to bring something new out of both analog and digital sounds by combining the two, drawing them out of context and then recreating what they discover in the process. It's heady; an album that would be lost on the growing legions of club kids and may be equally as challenging for jazz purists. But to lovers of electronic, experimental and ambient sounds that fill the void in between these two polarities, you might just have one of the best albums of this year—a sprawling collection of buoyant piano riffs, the walk and screech of Berglund's dynamic bass work and the digitized brush, snap and shuffle of Schwarz as he burrows his computer into the heart of a jazz trio in groundbreaking fashion.

Take the stuttering seesaw of "Headbanger Polka," which evolves with a lush yet tense melodic call and response between all three members. "Movement Seventeen" ushers in a more classical or chamber feel with Wesseltoft and Schwarz pairing grand and thumb pianos, and Berglund turning to his bow to layer string lines one atop the other. Updating a standard like "Round Midnight" may be the best example of what the trio manages together, bringing together swirls of static masquerading as beats and the song's classic line, handled with care by Berglund on the upright, before Wesseltoft takes it as his cue for a delicate solo run. It's haunting, abstract and vaguely techno—in a Moritz Von Oswald sort of way—and undeniably grown out of jazz.

By adding technology into the mix in a traditionally improvised medium, the trio creates something more than any one of them could do alone. Then they let their imagination take charge, riffing over the top over their looped spontaneity—particularly Wesseltoft, whose performance throughout Trialogue is clearly inspired. But to call one musician out over the others in the group is to miss the intimate interplay here. These guys are feeding off each other—watching, playing and stepping out of the way to share in filling the silence. It's the legacy of conversation through jazz brought into the new millennium and, if this record is any indication, a first chapter in a new legacy all its own. 

You can catch the act live thanks to Boiler Room TV, who caught the act performing recently in Amsterdam for ADE in the video below.

Bugge Wesseltoft + Henrik Schwarz + Dan Berglund Live @ ADE


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