Christoph Irniger Pilgrim, featuring Chrisoph Irniger, tenor saxophone, Stefan Aeby, piano, Dave Gisler, guitar, Raffaele Bossard, bass and Michi Stulz, drums. Community Music School of Springfield, 127 State St., Springfield. Single tickets ($15) available at www.jazzshares.org or at the door.
The quintet Pilgrim, founded by the Zurich based tenor saxophonist Christoph Irniger, has become one of the most exciting ensembles in contemporary European jazz. Earlier this year, Pilgrim released their fourth recording, Crosswinds, which Don Phips hailed as a “uniquely riveting affair,” and a “deep dive to the bottom of a chasm of mystery.” Some pieces are freely improvised, while others are completely notated, yet most lie in between, with an elasticity that reflects a life of freedom, where informed choices are made spontaneously. The music oscillates between enigmatic reflection and wild eruptions, although the band creates a dense sound that is hard to categorize.
Christoph Irniger, born 1979, is a Swiss saxophonist, composer and bandleader. According to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung he is “undoubtedly one of the greatest talents of his generation.” In recent years, Irniger has made a name for himself in a range of line-ups, playing jazz, rock and related musical styles. The journalist Peter Haffner writes of his compositions, “the pieces are tone poems, which show that catchy melodies and complex soundscapes need not be mutually exclusive, in fact they each need the other to come to fruition.”
Irniger’s regular visits to Berlin and New York have led to a number of diverse collaborations, including: Nasheet Waits (No Reduce Jaywalkin’ (nWog, 2013)), Don Philippe, and the band Counterpoints with Ohad Talmor, Bänz Oester and Vinnie Sperrazza. He has also played with Dave Douglas, Dan Weiss, Nils Wogram, Max Frankl, Christian Weber, Chris Wiesendanger and Vera Kappeler. He was a member of the Lucerne Jazz Orchestra for seven years and is heard on four of their recordings. He is also co-leader of the prog-rock band Cowboys from Hell.