Marie Kruttli & Clair-Obscur: Thé Camomille

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Camomille is French for camomile, and Clair-Obscur is a quartet led by pianist Marie Kruttli. She was born in Switzerland in 1991, and began as a classical pianist, before discovering the appeal of jazz. She studied at the jazz department of Lausanne University, then at Lucerne, and since 2010 her jazz composing has flourished. In 2015 her trio released their debut album Kartapousse, and she spent three months in New York, recording with notable New York musicians – her website features testimonials from David Murray and Jason Moran. A further trio album is in preparation (The Kind Of Happy One, early 2020). 

Thé Camomille features Lukas Traxel on bass, a long-time musical partner of Kruttli’s, and saxophonist Otis Sandsjö, whom she met in Berlin, plus Swiss drummer Domi Chansorn. It’s a totally simpatico quartet. On this excellent live recording, all compositions are by the pianist, and they’re of a high quality. They’re mostly groove-based, not that you’d guess that from the freely ad-lib tempo of the opening of the beautifully plangent Intermittent Fasting – unaccompanied saxophone, gradually joined by the rest of the quartet. After five minutes, a gentle groove emerges.

Kruttli’s time and tonality reminds me of Andrew Hill, which of course I mean as a great compliment – the rhythms are angular, the time distinctively behind the beat, but the mood perhaps brighter. Her harmonic vocabulary is inspired by modernist classical composers such as Stravinsky and Webern, she says – but on this evidence, she carries her learning lightly. The result is a fine release that promises much.

Discography
Intermittent Fasting; The Way Of Adapting To Any Human Being; Meeting – Connecting; The Melting Part – Melting Vs. Growing; Thé Camomille (63.50)
Otis Sandsjö (ts); Kruttli (p); Lukas Traxel (b); Domi Chansorn (d). Berne, nd.
QFTF 0136