Ensemble 5 [auf deutsch]
Heinz Geisser - Shiro Onuma Duo
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Heinz Geisser - percussion
Ensemble 5, from left to right Robert Morgenthaler, Fridolin Blumer, Heinz Geisser, Reto Staub.
Over the past decade the working band around Swiss percussionist & composer Heinz Geisser - best known for his longstanding collaboration with William Parker in the Collective 4tet - has developed a telepathically attuned and radical, musical expression.
The different musical backgrounds of the four musicians, their broad vocabulary and their groundbreaking interplay make up the seeds for their vibrant and colorful music - created in real time and on the edge of the unknown. Their daring swarm intelligence doesn’t leave anybody unaffected in their audiences.
Since 2014 the Ensemble 5 has organised the "Wednesday 4+1 concert series" at WIM Zürich. In their monthly shows they routinely invite a different guest to join them for an evening of improvised music. Over sixty concerts have been held by now.
The distinctive identity of the Ensemble 5’s music has developed in particular due to regular meetings with guest musicians forcing them to deal with the ever-changing wild card of the unexpected. Unheard sound textures settle in the band’s collective memory and prepare the field for explorations of new musical territory.
The Ensemble 5 toured Japan in 2013 and in 2019. Their seven albums on the critically acclaimed British label Leo Records have been praised by the international press. "The Summary of 4" (2014) and "The Collective Mind" (2019) have been listed among "BEST OF THE YEAR" by the magazine The New York City Jazz Record. The latest release "LUMINESCENCE" captures the band live in Tokyo with Japanese guest musician and violin player Naoki Kita. As US- American writer Stuart Kremsky remarked: „The musicians proceed to unheard musical territory coalescing in a sound world of continuing fascination.“
Ensemble 5, from left to right Heinz Geisser, Robert Morgenthaler, Reto Staub, Fridolin Blumer.
Heinz Geisser (*1961 in Zurich, Switzerland), musician and composer, studied classical guitar with Ermano Maggini and classical percussion with Horst Hofmann at the Zurich Music Conservatory. By his mid-twenties he was awarded the soloist diploma on classical guitar. Self-taught on jazz guitar his first recording was in 1988 with Swiss saxophonist Urs Blöchlinger. In the early 90’s however, drums and percussion became his main instrument. Further on he has been dedicating himself to improvised music.
During an extended visit to New York City he formed the Collective 4tet with William Parker, Jeff Hoyer and Mark Hennen in 1992. Their half a dozen albums on Leo Records have received outstanding reviews including several four star ratings in the Penguin Guide to Jazz.
Heinz Geisser has performed and recorded with many leading artists in the USA, Mexico, Europe and Asia including Guerino Mazzola, Sirone, Mat Maneri, Rob Brown, Arthur Brooks, Scott Fields, Elliott Levin, Shiro Onuma, Eiichi Hayashi, Takayuki Kato, I Wayan Sadra, among many others. He has produced over 30 albums released on US and EU labels such as Leo Records, Black Saint, Music&Arts, Silkheart Records, Cadence Jazz Records, Ayler Records etc.
A collaboration with Indonesian movie director Garin Nugroho has led to the music documentary "Teak Leaves at the Temples". The movie premiered in 2008 at the international film festivals Rotterdam and Hongkong. In 2010 he formed the Ensemble 5.
Fridolin Blumer (*1984 in Zurich), double bassist, plays new and anachronistic music as an improviser and interpreter.
He started to play violoncello when he was eight years old and switched to bass at the age of fifteen. From 2003 to 2008 he studied at the jazz faculty of the music academy Basel/Switzerland.
By exploring the musical traditions, today’s acoustic events, groove and sound and the related way of playing the bass, Fridolin Blumer develops a genuine musical grammar.
Reto Staub (*1979 in Herisau/Switzerland) is as a crossover artist between stated and improvised music. As a piano player and real-time composer, he has developed his own expressive style over the years.
After studying piano with Tomasz Herbut and graduating at the University of the Arts in Bern/Switzerland he attended chamber music classes for contemporary music with Reinbert de Leeuw and Mauricio Kagel and theater music classes with Georges Aperghis and Françoise Rivalland. In 2006/2007 he was scholarship holder at the International Ensemble Modern Academy in Frankfurt/Germany.
Reto Staub has participated in numerous world premieres of contemporary new music. He has performed at significant new music festivals in Europe and overseas with Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Nikel and Ensemble Linea (Wien Modern, Klangspuren Schwaz, Champs Libre Strasbourg, Festival Darmstadt, Contempuls Prag, Ultraschall Berlin, Tzlil Meudcan Tel Aviv etc).
Robert Morgenthaler (*1952), trombone and composition, is an international in-demand freelancer, soloist and improviser.
He had studied at the Zurich Music Conservatory and at Swiss Jazz School Bern. Being familiar with many music genres he has toured worldwide since the late 70’s, performing with legendary musicians such as Carla Bley, Victor Lewis, Steve Swallow, Bob Stewart, Joe Haider, Mel Lewis, Robin Eubanks, Michel Godard, Gunter Schuller, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Günter "Baby" Sommer, Lee Konitz, Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Kenny Wheeler etc.
In 1994 he formed the band Roots of Communication including Swiss-American singer Erika Stucky. From 1979 to 2018 he taught at the Bern University of the Arts.
Ensemble 5, from left to right Fridolin Blumer, Reto Staub, Heinz Geisser, Robert Morgenthaler; Photo by Bettina Scherz.