Improvising, with nothing pre-planned, or any discussion at all, is one of the most challenging and rewarding ways to make music. In Holland they call it instant composing. I feel lucky to be able to present some improvised music here with four master musicians whose work combines imagination, intuition, poise, humour and incredible ears.
I've been working with Michel Lambert for almost 30 years in many different contexts. His playing is reassuring yet liberating at the same time. It's difficult for me to conceive of any recording project or band without having him as the drummer. His list of credits is long and includes collaborations with Milcho Leviev, Ellery Eskelin, Rakalam Bob Moses and Raoul Björkheim.
Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink were like Batman and Robin in my childhood. My Oma used to send me photos of them clipped from the Dutch TV guide. In 1980 I attended a workshop Misha was conducting at the Music Gallery in Toronto. We asked him over for lunch with my family. Instead of flowers he brought plastic insects as a gift. And he was the only one to spot the weevils in the hot and sour soup we offered him. He peered over his glasses, paused a moment, and then finished his bowl without comment.
I first met Kenny Wheeler when he was teaching at the Banff Centre in 1984. He and drummer Eddie Marshall were the least talkative of any of the faculty but they were the two I learned most from. Kenny is also known to have a dry, understated sense of humour. Here are a couple of his sayings: "He played chorus after chorus, each one better than the next." "And at the end the lead trumpeter took everything up nearly an octave!"
Michael Stuart can play just about anything and brings his fresh, uplifting spirit to any musical situation. I knew his playing from an LP he made with the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine called "Remembrance" so it was a thrill when I finally got to work with him. His album "The Blessing" (with the great drummer Claude Ranger) is a classic. He is definitely one of my favourite musicians and people even though he always calls me "the Schwaaag".
Trio with Misha Mengelberg recorded March 24, 2002 at Studio Le Roy in Amsterdam by Mikel Le Roy
Trio with Kenny Wheeler recorded September 22, 2001 in Toronto by Reg Schwager
Trio with Michael Stuart recorded September 23, 2001 in Toronto by Reg Schwager
Mixed by Jacques Montminy, mastered by Jeff Elliott
Collages by Reg Schwager
Photos by Kiki Misumi, Walter Schwager and Reg Schwager