A Swiss native, Jonas Tauber has returned to Z¸rich after making some important contacts in the United States as he pursued his education. After graduating from the Eastman School of Music, Tauber moved on as opportunities arose for a cellist in orchestras in cities as widespread as New York City, Cedar Rapids Iowa, Philadelphia, Boulder Colorado and London England. After working with Itzhak Perlmanand other classical virtuosos, Tauber underwent an epiphany in Portland, Oregon, where he lived for three years and started filling in on bass. Just as important, Tauber started playing improvised music on bass there with Pink Martini and collaborated with John Gross, Michael Vlatkovich and Billy Mintz, among others. And he started recording on Origin Records, based in Portland as well.
Now, after moving back to Switzerland, Tauber has assumed the responsibility of producing the label's "Z¸rich Series" of improvised music. ("Jazz" would be too confining of a term.) And so, while his musical career has gone full circle as he brings home the rewards of his experience and artistic development, he has helped the West Coast-based label expand its musical horizons into European improvised recordings, now combining the best of both continents' music.
Tauber has already produced three CD's for Origin: Beautiful You with Gross and Mintz, Prime Numbers with Tauber, Doug Haning and William Thomas, and Queen Dynamo by Vlatkovich's group. And now he has released his own solo album, recorded live at CafÈ 26 in Schaffhausen. Like the other CD in the Z¸rich Series, Tauber's own CD is entirely free as he delivers a 52-minute performance amid the clinking and clatter of the cafÈ, which his DAT recorder picked up, as well as the clarity of his bass's strings.
Tauber's concert that night was entirely impressionistic, particularly as he takes inspiration from nature as he names his pieces after the process of water's movement, either falling, rippling, or pooling. Utilizing many of the effects possible on his instrument, though not often played in jazz compositions, such as the call-and-response of "Still-Pond" during which his lower-register vamp contrasts with overtones of reply, Tauber varies the experiences of the concept he fancied. Or the metronomic repeated bowing of two strings during "Little Creek," harmony or modulations absent and pitch presented in octaves, signify movement, trance-inducing in its shimmer. Or "Fall Water" involves arco liming of a scene, developed by insistently unvarying metrical pattern as Tauber carries the theme from the upper reaches of the bass, as if cello or viola, and descending into its lower register. After Tauber's eight pieces of impressionistic description, masterfully played, he concludes with a light-hearted, buoyant version of "Billie's Bounce" that combines the initial melody with a walking-bass improvisational section.
And Tauber leaves the diners of cafÈ 26, and his listeners, with a performance of impressionistic beauty, dramatic excitement, virtuosic control and unique imagination that's unlike that of any other recording of acoustic bass.