Urs Leimgruber soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, percussion
Christy Doran guitar
Bobby Burri bass
Fredy Studer drums, percussion
Recorded December 1976 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer Martin Wieland
Produced by Thomas Stöwsand
The Swiss quartet of OM, which found just the freedom it needed in ECM’s studios for a good decade, flung open the doors with colorful aplomb on Rautionaha, a rare JAPO release. To this early date the group brings a kaleidoscope of shared experience. The sound is appropriately splintered. Guitarist Christy Doran pens the kick-in-the-gut opener, “For Ursi.” Unable to resist the attraction from the get-go, saxophonist Urs Leimgruber colors the twilight with his heady tenor, chaining ladders of virtuosity with attentive form. His gurgling expositions of momentary abandon give Doran just the break he needs to cast a reverberant magic with tails flying. The superb rhythm work from percussionist Fredy Studer and bassist Bobby Burri completes this wall of light. The latter gives us “Stephanie,” his first of two cuts. This meditation of gongs and electronics coalesces into some fine soliloquies from the composer, while the full drumming and six-string picking shimmer like morning sun on the horizon’s lip. The prickly tenor is a bonus. Speaking of which, Leimgruber puts his writing to the test in “Song For My Lady.” Something of a ballad, in it he becomes a crying wayfarer who walks the same circle of self-reflection until there is only music left of the one that produced it. Lifting this ponderous weight off our shoulders is Burri’s title offering, which grows like weed in a groovy embrace. His bass work glows here. Leimgruber opts for soprano, reaching heights of multi-phonic brilliance that no footstool can reach. The effect is nothing short of extraordinary. The quartet ends on a whimsical punctuation mark: a flag without a country, a star without a sky. In the absence of definite shape, we are free to induce our own.