Day & Taxi

Percaso 31/32

A trio from its founding in the late 1980s, Swiss-based Day & Taxi has featured many bass and drum combinations over time. But just as every configuration of the Animals featured Eric Burdon and the Jazz Messengers, Art Blakey, multi-reedist Christoph Gallio is Day & Taxi with the other members reflecting his ideas through his compositions. In truth, while the Baden-based saxophonist’s concepts have been refined over the years with side trips into more poetic and thematic material; and he has added more woodwinds to his arsenal – he plays alto, soprano, C-melody and baritone saxophones here – the sonic landscaped remains similar to past forays.

A series of brief tracks – usually running from well under a minute to around six – are on show, often dedicated to individuals, with the highlights solo expression plus concise group intersection. Skirting too-elevated experimental sounds, one could say the band specializes in accessible avant-garde. That means that jagged melodies and instrumental extensions may be included, but basic structures are never abandoned; plus the pieces often reconnection with the heads at the climaxes. However Gallio is evidentially stimulated enough by his new young rhythm team members – bassist Silvan Jeger and drummer David Meier, both of whom are under 30 – that he has released one of PERCASO’s rare two-CD sets.

To be more particular, in spite of bravado soloing in certain circumstances, the focus is on cohesion, although there several shorter-than-intermezzos available to show off band members’ chops including Meier’s tough kit pounding and Jeger’s supple string interludes. As for the leader, while the reedist produces some head-turning color on all of his horns, he appears most comfortable playing soprano. One trope that seems to stick out from many of the longer tracks is a reliance on pregnant pauses. Often it appears as if Gallio’s solo – and the tune –is about to wrap up, only to have a new series of stuttering improvisations push it along still further.

If Artists has a defining track, it may be “Beat a beat on Beat for Beat (for Beat Streuli)”. Here the Swiss visual artists is honored with a tune that starts off with Gallio’s tonguing soprano solo that could have been played by Sidney Bechet, that then breaks up melodically and time-wise like an Ornette Coleman riff, with Jeger and Meier firmly holding the beat, until the saxophonist backs out of the piece with vamps related to the intro. In the same way “Death Ghost” features a distinct swing beat, with Gallio atmospherically vibrating on alto saxophone, yet somehow enlivening the atmospheric passages with rugged altissimo tones. Meanwhile the most advantageous of silences occurs on “18807 (for Anne Hoffmann)”, named for the CD’s graphic designer. Backed by focused plucks from the bassist, the reedist uses a hunt-and-peck formula to squeeze brief trills into their proper place, pausing frequently. Additionally Gallio’s soprano playing attains a folksy swing on “Jimmy (for Jimmy Giuffre)”, especially in an a cappella section in the middle, as Jeger’s stopping appears to similarly salute honor the double bass players that worked in Giuffre’s influential trios.

Inspiration isn’t confined to a soprano-saxophone featured trio either. Like Giuffre in fact, Gallio showcases a unique reed personality on baritone saxophone. Mercurially burping and slurping, “Gobi in Gabi”, seems to come from the same species as “Three Blind Mice”, although its simplicity is subverted when the reedist introduces angled tone curves and tongue flutters. Bringing out what is probably the ancient C-melody saxophone on “Free”, Gallio blasts it into the 21st Century with shapely reed clicks as the melody itself gets speedier and more fortissimo. Again with Meier supplying the slap, bang and pop behind him, Gallio turns sharply leftwards every so often, exposing new timbres, pausing then picking up the original pressurized theme. The saxophonist also uses his alto to sound out “Flower Stand”, the concluding track. Once the bass and drum kick in with their contributions, the three produce crazy-glue-like connections until the end.

On this it’s seventh CD, Day & Taxi proves that it’s music keeps on evolving in a stimulating but carefully controlled way. Gallio’s playing and compositions maintain their quality plus the powerful work of the new bassist and drummer confirm the wisdom of showcasing them.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: CD1: 1. An meinen nassen Schuspitzen 2. Long Distance 3. Gobi in Gabi 4. Cheap Metal Glass 5. Walking with Beth (for Elsbeth Voerkel) 6. Feldfrau 7. Free 8. Drummer´s Heart (for Matthias Gallati) 9. La fabrique des ornéments (for Alain Huck) 10. Die Zeichnerin (for Nanne Meyer) 11. Death Ghost 12. Groove for W (for Michael Wertmüller) 13. Lisa in Pisa (for (Lisa Schiess) 14. Hansnah (for Hans Benda) 15. Jimmy (for Jimmy Giuffre) CD 2: 1. Peine 2. 60 Beats & 60 Notes (for Marco Käppeli) 3. Andre’s B (for André Behr) 4. Melody 5. BB (for Beat Blaser) 6. 18807 (for Anne Hoffmann) 7. Fermatas for Hideto (for Hideto Heshinki) 8. One More for Emil (for Emil Rey) 9. Melody (Drums) 10. Hügel 11. Beat a beat on Beat for Beat (for Beat Streuli) 12. Piriority (for Piroska Boros) 13. Gabi in Gobi (for Gabi Fuhrimann) 14. Vero Vera? (for Vera Kappeler) 15. Flower Stand

Personnel: Christoph Gallio (alto, soprano, C-melody and baritone saxophones); Silvan Jeger (bass) and David Meier (drums)