Day & Taxi | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Day & Taxi


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Stateside it remains obscure, but the creative-music scene in Switzerland is very rich--musically and fiscally. With an impressive funding infrastructure, new jazz and experimental and improvised music have flourished for several decades in Bern, Basel, even the ski resort of Lucerne. Saxophonist Christoph Gallio is from the most active metropole, Zurich, where he runs his own label, Percaso Production. A soprano player who sometimes doubles on alto, he comes from the keep-it-simple school, preferring straightforward statement to gnarly spewing. His slightly nasal tone and lilting melodies clearly link him to Steve Lacy, particularly on his solo album Mono and in the trio Day & Taxi, which makes its Chicago debut this week. As heard on their only recording, 1992's All, Gallio, drummer Dieter Ulrich, and bassist Lindsay L. Cooper were a flexible and democratic threesome dedicated to gentle, swinging, free-ranging exploration; they dug into a dozen jazz tunes penned by various members of the band and mashed up Noel Coward's "Mad About the Boy." Since then, the group's gone on hiatus and returned with a new bassist (Dominique Girod) and a new MO, playing mostly compositions by Gallio. There are worse paths to follow: the saxist has a quirky conceptual bent, evidenced in his suite of miniature improvisations with cellist Alfred Zimmerlin and electronicist Matthew Ostrowski, his duets with Cooper, kokyu player Chie Mukai, pianist Fredi Luscher, and guitarist Stephan Wittwer, and his settings for words by artists Francis Picabia and Meret Oppenheim, all on 1994's Cars & Variations/High Desert Songs. (To sing those words, Gallio employed French chanteuse Irene Aebi, long-term associate and wife of Lacy. So much for killing your idols--Gallio all but drew an arrow pointing to his prime influence.) And just when you think you've got a bead on him, Gallio will slip out from under your preconceptions, as he did with a 1996 quartet record featuring New York singer Ellen Christy, bassist William Parker, and legendary free-jazz drummer Rashied Ali. Thursday, April 9, 9 PM, Xoinx Tea Room, 2933 N. Lincoln; 773-665-1336. JOHN CORBETT

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Beat Strenli.

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