Christoph Irniger Pilgrim
Christoph Irniger, ts - Stefan Aeby, p - Dave Gisler, g - Raffaele Bossard, b - Michi Stulz, dr
„(...) a homegrown rising young sax star’s quintet“
Jazzwise Magazine UK
"Young Swiss saxophonist, composer Christoph Irniger is one to watch. His blossoming stature on the European jazz scene is partly due to his invigorating and meticulous compositional approach. Pilgrim is a high-achieving unit, as the end results prove to be immensely satisfying."
Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz
"Pilgrim's fine performance worked a balance between artful construction and looser freedoms that clearly struck a chord with the audience. One of the highlights of Bray Jazz 2017." Ian Patterson, All About Jazz
"The group’s versatility, its clever approach of dealing with contrasts and its full sound make it a group to take into account internationally."
Henning Bolte, London Jazz News UK
The quintet Pilgrim, founded by Zurich based tenor saxophonist Christoph Irniger, has become over the years one of the most exciting ensembles in young European Jazz. After the highly praised group’s latest vibrant live album 'Big Wheel', Pilgrim presents now their fourth recording 'Crosswinds'. On this gorgeously considered, but luxuriantly open new recording the quintet uses ambiguity as a tool. Some compositions are freely improvised, while others are completely notated, yet most lie in between, with an elasticity that reflects a life of freedom, where informed choices are made spontaneously. The accompanying soundtrack oscillates between enigmatic reflection and wild eruptions, although the band creates a dense, all-round sound which is hard to categorise.
For Pilgrim finished musical notes are no more than a heading, the subject of an unwritten story or a door leading to another free musical space. No matter which musician takes up a subject, each tells the story differently. What cannot be enforced or imposed in deliberately controlled action leaves its traces in subconscious processing. It can surface again and crop out in differently maturated qualities. The surprising turning points in Pilgrim’s music indicate that this is not wishful thinking or platitude. It ensures that the group’s playing remains sharp and really happening. In the Liner Notes Peter Margasak writes: “On Crosswinds Pilgrim expresses the incomprehensible—the ineffable—but it the quintet does so with ravishing beauty, humanity, and tenderness. Irniger and his bandmates have developed a richly contemporary sound that melds ideas from some of the most harmonically advanced thinkers in the US with a distinctly European flavor heard most explicitly“.
The five members of the group, which was formed in 2010, come from different parts of Switzerland. They also play in various other groups, throughout the world, and already in their short careers they have had the opportunity to play with and be taught by jazz greats such as Dave Douglas, Nasheet Waits, Dave Liebman and Joey Baron.
“People who know about jazz say Christoph Irniger is one of them most promising musicians in contemporary Swiss jazz at the moment.” Jazzthetik DE
Christoph Irniger, born 1979, is a Swiss saxophonist, composer and bandleader. According to the Sunday edition of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung he is “undoubtedly one of the greatest talents of his generation.” In recent years, Irniger has made a name for himself in a range of line-ups, playing jazz, rock and related musical styles. Irniger is leader of the band and the Christoph Irniger Trio which between them have released four albums (three on Intakt Records) so far. From 2000 to 2006 Irniger studied music education at the Zurich Jazz School, and performance at the Lucerne School of Music with Christoph Grab and Nat Su. In the following years he took lessons from Dave Liebman, Mark Turner and Ari Hoenig. He won the Friedel Wald Foundation development award in 2004, received the Borsa di Studio for Siena Jazz University in 2006 and achieved third place in the 2010 ZKB Jazz Prize with the Cowboys from Hell. Between 2015 and 2017 his band Pilgrim were awarded high priority act from Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council. His work has been documented on twenty albums to date. He has played concerts and tours throughout Europe, Asia and the USA. His regular visits to Berlin and New York have led to a number of diverse collaborations, including: Nasheet Waits (No Reduce Jaywalkin’ (nWog, 2013)), Michael Bates, Don Philippe, and the band Counterpoints with Ohad Talmor. He has also played with Dave Douglas, Dan Weiss, Nils Wogram, Claudio Puntin, Max Frankl, Stefan Rusconi, Mats Spillmann, Christian Weber, Chris Wiesendanger and Vera Kappeler. He was a member of the Lucerne Jazz Orchestra for seven years and can be heard on four of their recordings. He is also co-leader of the prog-rock band Cowboys from Hell. Irniger teaches at Zurich University of the Arts and the Musikschule Konservatorium in Zurich.