Woodlander ‘Calvins Toboggan’ (QFTF) 4/5

Woodlander is the brainchild of Bern based swiss pianist Luzius Schuler. A unique trio existing of piano, trumpet and drums.
In the past unusual band setting are often related to newly discovered technical possibilities. Often there is a clear relationship between the decreasing number of instrumentalists and the increasing amount of loopstations, laptops and electrical outlets being used on stage.
Luzius Schuler strips down his Woodlander to the bare musical necessities. Acoustic and pure. Making this debut appear sincere and vulnerable. Calvins Toboggan is an album full of strong ideas, musicality and fantasy.
Toboggan the title track is an elegiac soundtrack through a landscape reminiscent of Thomas Mann’s Zauberberg. Romantic and resonant. Woodlander talks in a soft and confident voice. Schuler is managing the harmonic settings and restoring basslines with great virtuosity and zero cliche. Not fearing space. Mats Spillmann on trumpet carries the melodies with a slick tone and exemplary technique. Throughout the recording with a mature taste and comment. Developing the stories Schuler suggests in the opening heads.

Hieronymus is a dancing, oriental flavored blues. Steadily grooving and exploring all attributes of Schuler’s compositions. Drummer Jonas Ruther knows when to fall back and when to push. He is reluctant to get in the way of either Schuler or Spilmann. His transparent sound and uncomplicated playing emphasizes the intimate band setting.

The three move in a natural way and seem wired and fascinated by what they throw at each other. At times a little too much in control for lack of soul and risk taking.

Woodlander is a I have the room above her from Switzerland. Young, confident, straightforward and interesting. In the right mix between avant garde and access.

shg