The arrival of Fadenschlag, from Swiss jazz guitarist Mareille Merck and her trio Larus, reminds me that there was a time a few months ago that I said yes to a record label from that part of the world, send me everything that you have, and now it’s starting to trickle in quietly without a lot of fanfare. I’m not sure how to describe Swiss jazz, especially in comparison to American jazz, but I knew at the time I wanted to hear more from European jazz artists because they seem to be a little more adventurous, a little less tied down to the old traditions that American performers work so hard to preserve.
There’s a mystique, brought forth by a larger obsession with tone and timbre.
Other than that, Fadenschlag is jazz, a basic guitar trio, dry and spare in tone and timbre like Metheny (a reference I often make since so many contemporary jazz guitarists are influenced by him), but perhaps a little more ornate around the edges than you expect. First of all, Mareille Merck is an astonishing guitarist who knows how to lay down a tricky yet fluid riff when she needs to. I shouldn’t even mention that she’s a woman in this day and age, other than there’s a paucity of female jazz guitarists out there and that makes her stand out in my mind. But she’s a skilled guitarist by any standard, able to extract so many expressive sounds that provide so much space for her to move around the stage.
Mareille Merck is young, just 25, and the formation of Larus seems to focus on the fact that Merck, bassist Florian Bolliger and drummer Janic Haller are here, at the beginning of their journey together, setting a baseline for themselves. It’s a lofty bar they leave for the future, one lifted by a keen sense of improvisational space drifting through the trio. This is a team, one that uses intuition more than a sense of familiarity to push forward. Larus, as a whole, is anything but a novice effort.