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Review by Scott Yanow: Christoph Irniger Pilgrim - Mt. Tongariro


Tenor-saxophonist Christoph Irniger’s Mt. Tongariro (BTLCHR 71228) musically tells the tale of a visit to the New Zealand volcano.

Mt. Tongariro is the volcano on New Zealand’s North Island. The idea of traveling to the island and exploring the volcano fascinated Swiss tenor-saxophonist Christoph Irniger. Since graduating from the Zurich School of Jazz Music Education and the Lucerne School of Music Performance, Irniger has worked in Berlin and New York, studying with Dave Liebman, Mark Turner and Ari Hoegin. He has recorded frequently (including with the Cowboys From Hell which he co-leads) and developed his own personal voice on the tenor.

For this set with his group Pilgrim (which also includes pianist Vera Kappeler, bassist Christian Weber and drummer Michael Stulz), Irniger contributed six selections that form a suite and could serve as a soundtrack. With such titles as “The New World,” “Chasing Dreams Of Mt. Tongariro” and “Moving Moment,” Irniger tells a colorful story that is full of adventure, space, a variety of emotions, and stark melodies. On the episodic “Dead Man,” he even indulges in some free improvising with the quartet that is a little scary and quite effective. Throughout the program, the rhythm section follows Irniger’s every musical move, reacting as one to his ideas.

In this tale of Mt. Tongariro, one selection leads logically to the next one, telling the story of an adventure that probably never occurred. It is well worth hearing.
Scott Yanow

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