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Christoph Irniger Pilgrim

Christoph Irniger Plus

The quintet Pilgrim, led by Zürich tenor-saxophonist Christoph Irniger, plays music which is hard to categorise. Equipped with a healthy dose of self-confidence and a lot of adventurousness, the five-piece band has set out on a musical road trip. Unlike…


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The quintet Pilgrim, led by Zürich tenor-saxophonist Christoph Irniger, plays music which is hard to categorise. Equipped with a healthy dose of self-confidence and a lot of adventurousness, the five-piece band has set out on a musical road trip. Unlike tourists seeking to have their expectations fulfilled, the musicians are prepared to risk new experiences. They are on a journey of discovery, with no guidebook, no insurance against surprise, and no return ticket. The accompanying soundtrack oscillates between enigmatic reflection and wild eruptions, although the band creates a dense, all-round sound which is hard to categorise. The band was presenting their second release “Italian Circus Story” on Intakt Records.

The tracks on Italian Circus Story are infused with a leisurely, Mediterranean flair. The compositions leave lots of room for spontaneity and improvisation, in which the line-up, with its diverse subdivisions really comes into its own. Some pieces are precisely composed, others just sketchily outlined. “For Christoph Irniger finished musical notes are no more than a heading, the subject of an unwritten story or a door leading to another free musical space,” writes jazz critic Franz X Zipperer. No matter which musician takes up a subject, each tells the story differently. And so it is as if we hear the tracks on the CD in their pure form, as snapshots, unmediated like a concert. Their music is a wonderful example of how sometimes the whole world is more than the sum of its parts.

Formed in 2010, the band has changed its line-up over the years, and become one of the most exciting ensembles in young European Jazz. The five musicians come from different parts of Switzerland. They also play in various other groups, throughout the world, and already in their short careers they have had the opportunity to play with and be taught by jazz greats such as Dave Douglas, Nasheet Waits, Dave Liebman and Joey Baron.

“Christoph Irniger is in top form on the current album. People who know about jazz say he one of them most promising musicians in contemporary Swiss jazz at the moment.” (Rolf Thomas)

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