Sunday, May 31, 2015

RIP Peter Schmidlin (1947-2015)

Image courtesy of Dragan Tasic
Swiss jazz drummer Peter Schmidlin, who had played and recorded with Dexter Gordon, Lee Konitz, Dizzy Reece, Slide Hampton, and Don Byas, passed away last Monday, May 25, 2015. He was 68.

Known for his adaptability, perfect sense of timing, and a tasteful touch of swing, Schmidlin was one of the finest European drummers, as well as a producer responsible for issuing on record some of the best American jazz in Switzerland. It's a shame, though not entirely unpredictable, that his death remained unnoticed outside his homeland country.

"Peter Schmidlin was very popular with the US jazz musicians as a swinging drummer," writes Urs Blindenbacher in his obituary of this legend of Swiss Jazz. Blindenbacher also praises Schmildin for his role in connecting the separated worlds of French speaking Swiss jazz with that of the German speaking one.

Peter Schmidlin was born in 1947 in Riehen. He picked up the instrument at 14 and taught himself playing and mastering it. Only two years later, he was named as the best drummer at the Zürich Jazz Festival.

Young Peter with Buck Clayton and Sir Charles Thompson at Casa Bar Zürich
His professional career took off in 1965 and soon he found himself accompanying visiting American musicians, as well as jazz expats and exiles residing in western and northern Europe, a task which continued to the last months of his life.

In later years, he was a permanent member of three major jazz trios, respectively led by Tele Montoliu, Horace Parlan, and Jimmy Woode.

Between 1970 and 1983 he was a member of the Jazz Live Trio, the house rhythm section of Radio Zürich that accompanied many jazz greats in more than 100 live concerts, many of which recorded and preserved by the Radio.

In the 1970s, he followed the path of many post-war jazz musicians by going electric when he made a name for himself as the member of a jazz-rock group Magog, lasted from 1972 to 1977.

Peter Schmidlin with Sahib Shihab

In 1991, he was one of Swiss's jazz ambassadors in a series of concerts held  in north America and the Middle and Far Easts, celebrating the 700th anniversary of Switzerland. On the same year he founded a jazz label, TCB ("The Montreux Jazz Label") whose releases amounted to 200 albums, some of which featuring Schmildin on drums.

This is a list of some of the musicians with whom Schmidlin recorded or toured:

Buck Clayton, Benny Bailey, Tony Scott, Clarke Terry, Helen Humes, Cedar Walton, Curtis Fuller, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sir Charles Thompson, Johnny Griffin , Dexter Gordon, Gunther Schuller, Art Farmer, Sahib Shihab, Slide Hampton, Jiggs Whigham, Lee Konitz, Kai Winding, Albert Mangelsdorff, Idrees Sulieman, Clifford Jordan, Dusko Goykovich, George Robert, Clark Terry, Thierry Lang, Buddy DeFranco.

Going through these recordings, one can hear many great moments of his impeccable technique and his heart-felt accompaniment. To share some of these moments with you, I've compiled an off-the cuff playlist to, at least, give a glimpse of a 50-year-long career in music.


Don Byas Quartet
Stella By Starlight
Don Byas (ts), Sir Charles Thompson (p), Isla Eckinger (b), Peter Schmidlin (d)
Baden, April 29, 1967

Clifford Jordan & Jazz Live Trio
Inward Fire
Clifford Jordan (ts), Klaus Koenig (p), Peter Frei (b), Peter Schmidlin (d)
Zürich?, January 14, 1970

Sahib Shihab & Jazz Live Trio
You're Mine
Sahib Shihab (bs), Klaus Koenig (e-p), Peter Frei (b), Peter Schmidlin (d)
Zürich?, October 30, 1971

Sal Nistico & Jazz Live Trio
The Song Is You
Sal Nistico (ts), Klaus Koenig (p), Peter Frei (b), Peter Schmidlin (d)
Sigristen-Keller, Bülach, March 26, 1977

Tony Scott & Jazz Live Trio
Lover Man
Tony Scott (cl), Klaus Koenig (p), Peter Frei (b), Peter Schmidlin (d)
Radio Studio 2, Zürich, June 18, 1977

The Masscrade Is Over
Andy Scherrer (p), Erich Peter (b), Peter Schmidlin (d)
?, September 14, 1988

Benny Bailey Quintet
Blues East
Benny Bailey (t), Carlo Schoeb (as), Peter Eigenmann (g), Reggie Johnson (b), Peter Schmidlin (d)
?, April 1989

Clark Terry & George Robert
Somebody done stole my blues
Clark Terry (flugelhorn), George Robert (as), Dado Moroni (p), Isla Eckinger (b), Peter Schmidlin (d)
Jazzclub Container, Uster, December 9, 1993

Andy Scherrer (p), Stephan Kurmann (b), Peter Schmidlin (d)
?, June 11 or 12, 1997

No comments:

Post a Comment