Chat Noir, the debut album from newcomer Christoph Irniger is a good demonstration of free, expressive jazz coupled with some very decent traditional flavorings. The press sheet states, "These 8 tunes tell stories of passions, dreams, melancholy, and the yen to see distant places, but, meanwhile they reveal optimism and be understood very self-mockingly." Not clear to just what that last term refers, but the music does seem to want to tell a story or two, especially through Irniger’s sax, though perhaps in a self-focused, introspective sort of way.
Each selection carries a bit of self-indulgence with it, but true jazz aficionados who can relate to free expression under the tent of traditional jazz may find it all satisfying. The fact that musicians as gifted as Irniger and Co. appear to be can engage in such individual reflection and. introspection while pulling together such a cohesive project has always intrigued me. There are tunes here like "Matto Regiert" and "Hangover" that are richly traditional even bluesy--and quite easy to grasp, while others like "The Last Frontier," "Maina," and the title cut tend to show us just how big the world of jazz and free interpretations really is. For the discerning free jazz fan who still has deeply held roots in traditional jazz, as well, this is good stuff, overall.