PEYER-WEBER-STOFFNER

unsung songs
Unit UTR 4129

Quick, name another CD that features instrumental versions of tunes associated with Albert Ayler, Bing Crosby, Edith Piaf, Prince and Thelonious Monk. You can't can you and that's what makes this quirky po-mo effort by a Swiss guitar trio so distinctive.

Young jazz school grads, Peyer, Weber and Stoffner must be complimented for not only shuffling a few wild cards into the standard deck of a set list, but also for overlaying the expected standards with some electric funk.

Overall, though, the session comes across like Dr. Johnson's description of a dog that walked on its hind legs: more interesting for its uniqueness than for what it accomplishes. Despite the off-centre song selection, most tunes are treated in a pretty regular way: Stoffner plays the melody and Weber and Peyer embellish it. All are fine players, but none — yet — seems to have that spark to set them apart from other apprentice players in Europe or North America. "We Kiss In the Shadow," may be given a lilting country and western style treatment, for instance and "Caruso" echoes with sci-fi chords, but each "unsung song" is still mostly sung by Stoffner's guitar.

To take another example, juxtaposing "White Christmas" and "Bye-Ya" may stress the tunefulness of both Irving Berlin's and Monk's classics. However the guitarist's treatment of the melodies really wouldn't upset the sort of mainstream fan that sees Jim Hall as the last word in modernism.

So give the combo higher marks for originality than execution. But hope that next time out the members don't content themselves with the equivalent of scrawling graffiti on the walls. How about trying to tear down the walls themselves?

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. The Man I Love 2. We Kiss In The Shadow 3. Ghosts 4. Fais Comme Si 5. For the Lonely Ones 6. Caruso 7. White Christmas 8. Bye-Ya 9. Sometimes It Snows In April

Personnel: Flo Stoffner (guitar); Christian Weber (bass); Marius Peyer (drums, percussion)