Hildegard Lernt Fliegen (Switzerland):
Andreas Schaerer – voc
Is it a one-man band, an orchestra, a sextet or a travelling circus? It is difficult to say. Hildegard Lernt Fliegen (Hildegard learns to fly) is a very special and, perhaps, one of the most creative music projects Switzerland has to offer. It is jazz, but also a noise art, a musical cabaret, rock, rap and morbid polka with a little Kurt Weill and Frank Zappa aftertaste.
These fellows can be comical, noisy and whimsical, bur never boring. Their music is brimming with wit and imagination.
The group was formed in 2005 by Andreas Schaerer, a composer and a true voice acrobat. It would be incorrect to call him a singer, for he produces too exotic a sound palette. Schaerer had a good tutor – he toured with the unsurpassable vocal virtuoso Bobby McFerrin.
Hildegard Lernt Fliegen was brought ashore in 2007, when they released their first album. The reviews were glowing, sales were brisk, and the album had to be re-released after being sold out in a couple of months. The sextet won the most important newcomer prize in Switzerland, the so-called ZKB Jazzpreis in 2008. In 2011, they received a grant from Pro Helvetia for the priority promotion of jazz music, which is the most important jazz award in Switzerland.
The group’s leader humorously calls Hildegard Lernt Fliegen a flying object, which gets above the firmament, sometimes very high, taking the audience together.
Hildegard not only works on her flying skills, but also tours very comfortably with the bus, the train or the airplane. The group has travelled from Russia to China. Their tour in Russia in 2010 was captured on a film and recorded on CD.
Hildegard has been through various experiences: performed for both a few people and thousands of aficionados, played in open spaces, smoggy jazz clubs and prestigious festivals. The long list of stages where the sextet has performed includes London Jazz Festival, Jazzdor Festival Strasbourg, April Jazz in Espoo, Jazznojazz Zürich, Suisse Jazz Diagonales, Dresdner Jazztage, and a number of other major jazz venues.
The group’s main composer Andreas Schaerer does not seek to enchant the audiences with the beautiful music. He favours perfervid energy and combinations of hardly compatible things. For him the music making is an intoxicated state.
Sometimes the vocalist registers his creative impulses on his mobile later developing them together with his group. He also gets his ideas while travelling.
Schaerer’s vocal resources are extraordinary – it is sometimes possible to obscure the inventiveness of his writing and the attributes of the musicians. He is generally acknowledged as the human incarnation of a vaudeville theatre. From the dressers to the stagehands, from the wigmakers to the props department, the spotlight operator to the conductor, everything arises in his mind and comes out of his throat.
Saxophonist Matthias Wenger, according to his colleagues, is a perfect gentleman, with a devil perched on one shoulder and a muse on the other.
Saxophonist Benedikt Reising has spent most of the intervening years collecting shiny metal tubing and blowing into it. Trombonist Andreas Tschopp is the group’s sunny South Pole, stays calm during rush hour. His mellifluous triads seem to float peacefully in the air like wispy summer clouds over an alpine pasture on a summer’s day.
Marco Müller doesn’t just play the double bass. He and his instrument are conjoined; it steams and pounds and grooves like the engine on Santa’s snowmobile. A mere undertone of monotony on stage prompts the double bassist to give a hand to Schaerer. Christoph Steiner keeps himself busy by playing drums, typewriters, kitchen utensils, and whatever else he gets his hands on which isn’t bolted down.
Each member is an indelible part of the group, and the so-called chaos of Hildegard is a premeditated aesthetics, cheerful play of musicians who know each other perfectly.
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