Adelhard Roidinger: Schattseite (ECM 1221)

 

Adelhard Roidinger
Schattseite

Adelhard Roidinger bass
Heinz Sauer tenor saxophone
Bob Degen piano
Harry Pepl guitar
Werner Pirchner vibraharp, marimba
Aina Kemanis voice
Michael DiPasqua drums, percussion
Recorded November 1981 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher

It’s unfortunate that Adelhard Roidinger only cut this one record for ECM. The Austrian-born Renaissance man seems to have been a perfect fit for the label, which by the time of this release (1982) had firmly established its aesthetic hold on the jazz market. Schattseite has a lush, airy sound that is always appealing, and what better way to draw us in than with the slow-moving “Fü Pfü.” The soloing is crisp all around: gorgeous vibe work from Pirchner, Pepl’s soft guitar licks, DiPasqua’s tender drumming, a fluid run from Sauer on tenor sax, and an alluringly pianistic turn from Degen all make for a crystalline opener, and Roidinger’s plaintive accompaniment pulls it all together with humility. There is much stopping and starting, as if the music were afraid to latch on to a memory it knows could be self-destructive. Next is “Lufti,” a delightfully overdubbed bass duet, interrupted by occasional glissandi for a playful effect. “Loveland” fades in on a sweet piano riff doubled by Aina Kemanis’s brassy vocals, evoking the distinctive sound originally forged on Return to Forever. Roidinger harmonizes with the lead motif, blending into another mercurial leap from Pirchner, this time on marimba, supported by a delicate repeat of the same progression sans voice. The fantastic sax solo and Metheny-esque picking lend even more elegance to the track’s progressive sound. “Stress” begins with a bowed electric bass, caressing the air like whale songs. Sauer introduces the main line, again doubled by Kemanis, before Roidinger steps in to offer some regularity, thereby allowing Deger more room to flex his fingers. “Ania” starts with laughter, or something like it. Out of this abstract pointillism comes an engaging chant, throughout which Pepl jauntily strums his way along. The album closes with its longest track, “When Earth Becomes Desert,” which steadily moves from haunting drones to an all-out improv-fest. The marimba is unusually present here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was miked differently, if not added in postproduction. The final minute brings us slowly back down with a gorgeous melody in tutti.

Although Schattseite does take a while to find its groove, whatever it may lack in drive it makes up for in atmosphere and melodic robustness. This is an album of exceptional sound and quality, and is like the audio equivalent of a scenic route: it may get you to the same destination, maybe even less efficiently, but its allure is such that by the time you near the end, you no longer care where you were going. In dire need of a reissue.

10 thoughts on “Adelhard Roidinger: Schattseite (ECM 1221)

  1. I totally agree with your review. One of my very favorite ECMs and I was always amazed it’s never been reissued on CD. It was my introduction to several musicians: Roidinger, Harry Pepl, Werner Pirchner. I was already familiar with the wonderful Aina Kemanis’s lovely voice (she’s an American by the way, and much younger than these guys-i’ll never know how she managed to be on these various ECM albums with all these Europeans, lol).
    Anyway, I found out about this album when I got the opportunity to speak with drummer Michael DiPasqua after he played a gig in NY with Jan Garbarek’s quartet (with Eberhard Weber and Bill Frisell) in 1982. DiPasqua mentioned that he had just recorded this date and I couldn’t remember Roidinger’s name but I just kept looking in the record stores jazz section until I found it about a year or so later.

    1. This is a great story, Gary. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have been there among all these musicians in their prime. Oh, to have seen the Jan Garbarek Quartet…

      1. I guess that’s the only benefit to being old, lol!!! But you’re also living it right now it seems. Seeing plenty of concerts that you will retain in memory for a long time. And 20-plus years from now someone will be saying to you about how lucky you were to see all these great musicians you have. I’ve just been reading your concert reviews here..fantastic writing for sure.
        I’m also going through your ECM reviews of some older more obscure things I haven’t heard since they were new, things like “First Avenue” and your descriptions/reviews are sending me running around my place trying to find the vinyl that I haven’t played in over 25 years!
        Yes, Mike DiPasqua was, at that time, kind of becoming almost the 3rd in place “house drummer” for ECM (only behind Jon Christensen and Jack Dejohnette). But then he stopped playing altogether only a couple of years later. Nice, down-to-earth guy. From what I understand the life of a working musician, traveling all over the world going to-and-fro recording sessions (mostly alone I believe) in foreign countries kind of got him down. So he left the music world. Eberhard Weber only coaxed him back after over 15 years of not playing for Weber’s album in April 2000 “Endless Days”. But I haven’t seen or heard of anything else he’s done since then. So he may have put down the sticks again, sadly..

    2. Gary – I just read this. My wife and I saw Garbarek on that tour in Boston – it was remarkable – he played songs from his recent release (and a favorite of ours) Paths, Prints. It was just a small, intimate club setting, and something we’ll never forget.

      1. Wonderful that you saw Garbarek, who seems to have shunned the recording studio for many years now. I wonder if the loss of his soulmate Eberhard Weber has something to do with this?
        “Paths, Prints” is my absolute favourite too. (Maybe “Places sometimes…, that’s also essentially fantastic). Paths had the perfect lineup for these “sky pictures” daubed and searingly etched into the landscape!

      2. Well,now i’m the one who’s taken a couple of years to see this reply. Yes, that tour was special, even though I very much wanted to see Jon Christensen on drums, Mr. DiPasqua was also a master drummer and nice guy as well. Yes, the club I saw him at, although in New York City, was pretty small as well and we got a seat right up by the stage. Although the stage was elevated about 4 feet I was still close enough to Eberhard Weber (who was playing seated at the front of the stage) that I probably could have reached out and untied the sneakers he was wearing-which of course, I would NEVER do as I only have the utmost respect for Mr. Weber. They played mostly from ‘Paths, Prints but did play the opening track from Weber’s 1980 album ‘Little Movements’ as well which was quite interesting to hear Frisell approximate the piano part of the song originally played by Rainer Bruninghaus.
        And by the way I also very much like many other Garbarek albums and in a smilar vein to ‘Paths, Prints’ I also very much enjoy ‘It’s Ok To Listen To The Grey Voice’ which has David Torn, Eberhard Weber, and Michael DiPasqua as the supporting band.

  2. Hey guys, this great album is now available as a highres download as a remastered version, e.g. at highresaudio.com. I once lost my LP and I’m happy to listen to this again after 15 years. ..

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