Woodlander Calvins | Toboggan

by Jeff Becker

If Woodlander was not enough to stir your mind than Calvins Toboggan might bring to mind an image of a superhero.  OK, its not – but it was fun for a moment.  This Swiss trio does offer the listener its own quixotic-modernistic sound.  A sense of adventure is laced throughout this album and in kind, moments of ethereal whimsy, to rugged abstract abound the tracks. One thing is for certain, the trio is not afraid to push the limits.

Pianist Luzius Schuler is at the forefront of creating plentiful motifs, while leaving just enough exploratory space for each player to create. Another key element in the creative sound is Mats Spillman’s trumpet, and the glue to the sound is drummer Jonas Ruther.

“Flash da Trash,” offers a heavy song structure of the rock-jazz nature, but always remaining open with interesting ideas throughout.  The countrified underpinning of “Advancement” gives merit of a gradual conjoining of trumpet into a controlled chaos, for an engaging adventuresome sound, while the initially delicate “Nach am Schlaf” aberrantly gets more of a powerfully minor in tone treatment, then to a fade for a calming result.

Spillman stays in the slow and spacious lane, but it is in these moments you gain better insight into the mind of creativity from the trumpeter, guided and supported by his fellow musicians, his expressive note choices and ideals lives simply in support of the overall musical experience. This musical camaraderie is even more prevalent in “Toboggan” and “Hieronymous,” or the even more rhythmically active “Fahrradfahren.”

Calvins Toboggan gives insight to a group well beyond the maturity of a debut release. Their assuredness and ability to create explorative, yet accessible tunes is the salt most musicians have to grow into. A fascinating debut of proportional meaning.

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