Terrain! Terrain! Pull Up! Pull Up!
Drummer and composer Michael Wertmüller has fulfilled a personal wish, namely to write a suite for an ensemble with an almost classic big band line-up. And the Bern University of the Arts in Bern, Switzerland, has provided the students, former students, time, and space, not to mention Lucas Niggli, the dazzling soloist on drums. Wertmüller is an in-demand composer of contemporary music and opera. He writes for large orchestras, small chamber music formations, various venues -- and now, at last, for a big band, too. Wertmüller: "I grew up with big band music, with swing, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and later Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson. It's what we would often listen to at home, along with Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Bruckner; in other words, the whole classical-romantic apparatus. The idea of now finally writing a big band piece came with Lucas Niggli when I was fortunate enough to invite a number of musicians to a 'special' at Porgy & Bess in Vienna. . . . Why should swing in a well formed context played fantastically well be any less contemporary than a violin in so-called New Music? In fact, I see big band music as a terrific challenge to 'New Music', especially after the experiences we've had with our project. Given globalisation and the blending of styles that goes with it, it's not clear to me why there aren't more 'serious music' composers looking at big band settings; after all, there are plenty of jazz musicians working on string quartets."