Andreas Schaerer’s “Hildegard Learns to Fly” in Unterfahrt – Munich

For what felt like an eternity, the Swiss were from Hildegard learns to fly Not here anymore. And the pain of separation was mutual: with the Munich audience, you could already see that from the fact that the performance in the Unterfahrt was sold out long before; and for the band, frontman Andreas Schaerer explained at the beginning of the concert, visibly touched, how happy they were to finally be back on this stage. Munich is a special place for the band, whose name reflects their weird music mixture, which ignores the usual jazz criteria and is extraordinarily humorous: Winning the BMW World Jazz Awards 2014 marked the breakthrough in Germany, where the Munich band has been in contact ever since Labels Enja and Act is connected. And a later Unterfahrt appearance resulted in the monumental orchestral project “The Big Wig” at the Lucerne Festival.

In addition, the band had taken a break anyway, because of some of Schaerer’s other projects, but also because they wanted to do something new after 15 years, namely a concept album. As “The Waves Are Rising, Dear!” then finished in 2020, the tour fell into the Corona hole. Now, finally, this 44-minute work could be played as the first half of the program, which is so completely different from what the band has been used to up to now. Almost fully composed chamber music in an apocalyptic mood, prophetically anticipating Corona and the Ukraine war to a certain extent. Completely atypically serious, even gloomy.

Impressive, but also a bit unsatisfactory. Because – Schaerer addressed it himself – the Hildegard-learns-to-fly-specific qualities were missed: Schaerer’s humor and vocal acrobatics. What after the break, among other things, with old hits like “Zeusler” and “Don Clemenza” was made up for extensively. At the latest after a final beatbox-onomatopoeia four-octave extravaganza that only Schaerer can master, everyone, spectators and musicians alike, was as happy as ever.

Much more than just a wind section: Matthias Wenger, Andreas Tschopp and Benedikt Reising (from left) are also soloists, melody carriers, flute orchestra or percussion group in “Hildegard Learns to Fly”.

(Photo: Oliver Hochkeppel)

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