Home - Reto Suhner
The saxophonist Reto Suhner performs in different Swiss and international formations, from Duo to Jazz orchestra. The unplannable moment of musical dialogue, which is based on improvisation, is important to Suhner. That’s where suspense is created, where new sounds evolve and stories are told.
Reto Suhner, born in Herisau, graduated from the Jazz School, where he studied with Carlo Schöb and Lester Menezes. Additionally, he took workshops with Jerry Bergonzi, Art Lande, Ed Neumeister, Bela Lakatos and Julio Barreto – in 1999 he stayed in New York and took private classes with Dick Oatts, Billy Drewes, Rich Perry and Bob Mover. In 1998 and 2007 Suhner received the culture award of Appenzell Ausserrhoden. He gave concerts with Fabian M. Müller, Mats-Up, the Zurich Jazz Orchestra, Swiss Jazz Orchestra, Lauer Large, Martin Streule Jazz Orchestra, Adrian Frey Septet, Herbie Kopf’s U.F.O. and SWILIT, Pius Baschnagel’s Influences, Max Frankl Quartet and Béatrice Graf.
He plays Alto, Soprano, Tenor, C-Melody Tenor, Bariton and Bass-Saxophone, Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute, Eb Clarinet, Bb Clarinet, Alto Clarinet, Contra Altoclarinet, Duduk, Theremin.
The Reto Suhner Quartet has been giving concerts for 18 years nationally and internationally and has meanwhile recorded 7 CDs. That’s what the press says.
The Reto Suhner Nonet was founded during an “Artist-in-Residence”-series at the Moods (Zurich). The formation has recorded their debut album in August 2012. Now the CD, the download and the double vinyl is here (A-nuk).
The Fabian M. Müller/Reto Suhner Duo exists since 2010. The recording Schattenspiel came out 2014.
While teaching I came up with the idea for the impro game. Play music!
Reto Suhner Quartet
Silence and Storm – “There are places, where the weather changes very quickly and surprisingly. In such places, you should always be on the watch, instead of believing the forecast of weathermen. Otherwise it can happen that you will be swept of your feet by a storm. The sound of the Reto Suhner quartet resembles an unsettled weather condition. When silence prevails, do not lean back: Maybe you are in the eye of the hurricane right now.” Tom Gsteiger
In its new line-up, the Reto Suhner Quartet is a relaxed mixture of adventure and control. Structures are created freely; space opens within existing songs. The band performs nationally and internationally.
Reto Suhner- Saxophone
Philip Henzi- Piano
Silvan Jeger- Bass
Dominic Egli- Drums
Freedom – Responsibility – Trust
Easy? Depending on how one looks at it! Reto Suhner definitively did not switch to easy listening jazz! But there are long sections on the new album of his quartet, which present themselves immensely light footed; an enthusiastic listener cannot but feel that the band grooves on the floor and floats in the clouds at the same time.
Easy? Depending on how one looks at it! This agile, wide awake, but anything but streamlined interplay of this half a decade existing band is the result of a process consciously encouraged by Reto Suhner; a process with which two goals are being pursued. On the one hand, a flexible group dynamic with various possibilities for spontaneous interactions is being pursued. On the other hand, compositions and improvisations are not strictly separated from each other, but they are assimilated – e.g. by opening up spaces within a written piece or by «instant composing». Suhner says: «The idea of the moment or coincidences play an important role.»
Easy? Depending on how one looks at it! Suhner (saxophone), Philip Henzi (keys), Silvan Jeger (bass) and Dominic Egli (drums); these four musicians are not misled by the paradox of jazz, but are inspired by it: Jazz is most perfect when it does not aspire to be perfect, but is open to error and handles it creatively.
After all it is valid to ask: If in jazz, it is even possible to make mistakes. Monk said: «Wrong is right.» And Suhner asks an important question: «If music were a reflection of society or of life and if music can transport „felt time“ (Steffen Schorn), how perfect can/ should/ has to be music in that case?» Suhner & co. are no hard-boiled «jazz managers», but «jazz philosophers» and «jazz adventurers». They are a team, which emphasises individual freedom, while each of them carries equal responsibility. This balancing act is only possible with mutual trust.
Easy? Depending on how one looks at it! The quartet extemporises on the basis of compositions, which deviate more are less from the standard model (and because a studio recording is not a concert, there are some overdub tasty titbits). The ballad «Portrait of Jennie», which is the title melody of a Hollywood movie from 1948 and which Suhner has equipped with new harmonies, appears to be the most ordinary track. In his compositions Suhner operates with completely different gimmicks. That «Alles» develops a knock-on effect reminding of Coltrane, is not a coincidence, as it is a combination of «Coltrane Changes» («26-2») with odd-time signatures. «Second Thoughts» evolved from an exercise with minor scales, which Suhner does not use often: Challenging his listening habits, he finds fresh solutions. In «Illusion: Colour», a pulse is dissected in different time signatures. But more important than explaining the functioning of pieces of music is realising that one does not have to know what is happening to recognize that the Reto Suhner Quartet produces music in an unorthodox, yet organic way. For people, who love the jazz tradition but also love to be surprised, this quartet is the perfect match: They are moving forward, but do not forget to look in the rear-vision mirror every now and then.
Tom Gsteiger 2015
PS Reto Suhner also likes books. The titles «Die Schlafende Acht» (The Sleeping Eight) and «Das Menschliche Moment» (The Human Momentum) are borrowed from books by the Swiss writer Hans Boesch (1926-2003). With the novels «Der Sog» (The Slipstream), «Der Bann» (The Spell), «Der Kreis» (The Circle) and «Schweben» (Hovering) Boesch created an important tetralogy of novels.
Reto Suhner Nonet
In 2009, during the „Artist-in-Residence“-series at the Moods, the Reto Suhner Nonet was founded; the band explores the alternation between opulence and stringency.
The warm brass sound is fascinating.
A record was made in August 2012 and released in 2013 by Anuk.
Colors in Motion: Reto Suhner Nonet COLORS
Even inveterate enthusiasts of black-and-white-movies would not give up on colors in their „real“ life. Colors have a signalling effect. Colors stimulate the senses. Colors are enchanting. Colors are fascinating.
Music usually is invisible – but still we speak of acoustic colors. There actually are people who associate certain sounds with certain colors – the term for this is synaesthesia.
You do not have to be a synaesthete to experience the reviving effect of acoustic colors. Reto Suhner is no synaesthete – but still he has felt the urge to broaden his palette of acoustic colors. Until now, the saxophonist was accompanied on most of his own recordings (which are anything but monochrome!) by piano, contra bass and drums.
For his Nonet, Suhner adds six further brass players, but abandons the piano – and thus consciously creates a significant contrast between artfully arranged ensemble-passages and transparent- interactive passages, in which the enormously imaginative improvisations are accompanied by bass and drums only.
Thus, an interplay full of suspense and surprise is created; an interplay between solid and fluid forms, between opulence and asceticism, and between graphic and abstract forms of painting with acoustic colors.
The presence of tuba and French horn reveals Suhners affinity for the music, which Gil Evans wrote for Miles Davis (parts of this music Suhner has interpreted as a member of the Zurich Jazz Orchestra). This affinity does not end in epigonality. First of all, Suhner uses his own material ( with one exception, he has had recorded all pieces before in a less orchestral context.) Secondly, he lets his intuition guide his arrangements. Suhner is convinced, that a certain level of incidence leads to more liveliness. To use the incidence creatively, one needs the will to take risks and a quick power of deduction. Suhner has often proven in his improvisations that he possesses plenty of these abilities. COLORS is his first master piece as an arranger.
Tom Gsteiger, April 2013
CD 25.-Sfr., Vinyl 40.- Sfr. plus Porto here.
Here's the digital download (paywhatyouwant).
Fabian M. Müller/Reto Suhner
The two Musicians from Appenzell perform freely as a Duo.
Reto Suhner and Fabian M. Mueller, both well-known protagonists of the Swiss Jazz scene, have attracted attention in different contexts. But especially with their longtime Working Bands RETO SUHNER QUARTETT and FM TRIO, they have developed a unique formal and structural play, which joins together written and improvised music on the highest level. As a duo, they not only play without a rhythm section, but also without scripted material. Everything is being developed out of the moment. Still these two exceptional instrumentalists do not create something out of nothing – but out of an endless stream of melodic ideas, which vary rhythmically and continue in long dialogues. Thus, the two musicians do not only reveal an uncanny instinct for harmonic progress, but they let their lines sink into silence as to give room to the pure sound of the instruments in minimalistic and noise-like sequences.
The new cd "Schattenspiel" is now avaliable, released with the german label "BetweentheLines"