1990

Chapter II

The orchestra begins working (again) with younger, unknown musicians, while a core of old members remains. Klaus Dickbauer, Florian Bramböck Thomas Alkier, Joseph Bowie and Alexandra Naumann join the band. European tour with concerts in Sweden, Norway, Spain, France, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria. Lighting effects are added for the first time. The band has fun again and plays "full power". Other tours feature the programs "Fe& Males" (televised in Vienna and Leverkusen) and "lieber ein saxophon" with Ernst Jandl.


No break with the traditions of the orchestra and yet, they are audibly refreshed. (Weltwoche, Zürich)
 

Favorite subject of discussion: Tax law.

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1991

Mozart’s Balls

VAO takes one year off as a jazz orchestra from touring. Rüegg is invited by Switzerland to write a program for the specially-created Swiss Art Orchestra, in which nearly all mayor Swiss jazz musicians participate. Production with the BBC of a 30-minute music film entitled "N_t M_zart," which is picked up by several European TV stations. In France, a recording session and tour with "Fe & Males".


An energetic life-sign from a band which often, unjustly, has been declared for dead. (Standard, Vienna)


Favorite subject of discussion: The past.

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Swiss Art Orchestra
Program
 

1992

Standing...What?

For the first time, rüegg contracts out all compositions for the new program (to Uli Scherer, Werner Pirchner, Wolfgang Puschnig, Daniel Snyder, Florian Bramböck). Corin Curschellas, Danilo Terenzi, Matthieu Michel and Claudio Pontiggia join the orchestra.Two European tours (EXPO Sevilla, festivals in Helsinki and Utrecht, a.o.). Comissions by the Donaufestival and the Banlieues Bleues (Paris) and Jazz at Trento result in the production "La belle et la bête", an homage to Jean Cocteau.
 

Was this an encore with an ironic twist for an otherwise ponderous concert? A reminiscence of their wild beginnings? Or perhaps simply a sucessful linkage of their experimental spirit with the pleasure they take in playing, which has not diminished after 15 years of work in the realm of sound. (Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich)
 

Favorite subject of discussion: Getting up in the morning.

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1993

The original charts of Duke Ellington & Charles Mingus

Repeat performances of "La belle et la bête". Austria tour and four-day guest appearance at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem. The VAO is expanded for the first time into big band formation and plays the orignal charts of Duke Ellington & Charles Mingus. Two European tours and a live appearance at the 5Spot, NYC. Festivals include Saalfelden, Willisau, Mulhouse, Hamburg, Pescara. CD produced by the American label Verve. Rüegg opens "Porgy & Bess", whose existence is generally supported by the Ministry of Arts, Bank Austria and the City of Vienna. "Porgy & Bess" earns quickly a solid reputation as a jazz club. "Penguin Jazz Guide" (London) ranks "The Minimalism of Erik Satie" among the 10 best jazz recordings out of the 10,000 under review. VAO receives 1993 European Jazz award from the Académie francaise du jazz.


The orchestra prizes virtuosic precision, with each part cleanly articulated and each ensemble precisely balanced. (New York Times)


Favorite subject of discussion: Why?

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1994

Vienna Art Orchestra plays for Jean Cocteau

The orchestra begins working (again) with younger, unknown musicians, while a core of old members remains. Klaus Dickbauer, Florian Bramböck Thomas Alkier, Joseph Bowie and Alexandra Naumann join the band. European tour with concerts in Sweden, Norway, Spain, France, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria. Lighting effects are added for the first time. The band has fun again and plays "full power". Other tours feature the programs "Fe & Males" (televised in Vienna and Leverkusen) and "lieber ein saxophon" with Ernst Jandl.


No break with the traditions of the orchestra and yet, they are audibly refreshed. (Weltwoche, Zürich)
 

Favorite subject of discussion: Tax law.

Photos
 

1995

Nine immortal Nonevergreens for Eric Dolphy

"The Original Charts" are given repeat performances at the Amiens, Coutences, Albi and Vienne Jazz Festival in France and at the Vienna Jazz Festival. Hannes Kottek, VAO’s lead trumpet player from 1984-91, and trombonist Danilo Terenzi, who joined the band 1990, both died of cancer... Twenty-seven European performances of "Nine Immortal Nonevergreens for Eric Dolphy" in October, plus live recording of the program by Amadeo/Verve. Trombonist Christian Muthspiel joins the band.


Most impressive was the rendition of Dolphy’s incredibly complex solo from "Out There" (seven dense choruses!) as played in unison by the two saxophonists, Klaus Dickbauer and Florian Bramböck. (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zürich)


Favorite subject of discussion: Death.

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1996

Third Dream

VAO plays an Ellington program under the direction of Gunther Schuller in the Brucknerhaus at Linz. Summer: On a whirlwind trip to Singapore and Tokyo, the VAO presents a program of Highlights, for which the Polish-American vocalist Urszula Dudziak joins the band for the first time. Studio recordings of the two CDs, Ballads and "M.". The Viennese Jazz Club Porgy & Bess presents the Orchestra with six different programs - Tango from Obango, From No Time to Rag Time, The Minmalism of Erik Satie, Nightride of a Lonely Saxophonplayer, Chapter II and Nine Immortal Nonevergreens for Eric Dolphy. The line-up primarily features Viennese musicians, such as Christian and Robert Bachner, Herwig Gradischnig, Reinhard Micko, Frank Schwinn, Ali Gaggl and Cornelia Giese. Also deserving special mention are the percussionist Ingrid Oberkanins, bassist Robert Riegler, and the young drummer Gregor Hilbe, all of whom will become regular members of the orchestra as of 1997. RCA releases the recording "3rd Dream", made jointly with the NDR Big Band and the Hannover Symphony Orchestra, with the participation of Thomas Alkier, Klaus Dickbauer and Claudio Pontiggia and solos by Herbert Joos and Uli Scherer.


Did a poet have to be sacrificed to bestow immortality on a composer? Perhaps. (Jazz Podium, Stuttgart)


Favorite subject of discussion: Cellular telephones.

 

1997

20th anniversary: An Echo from Europe

The VAO has made it to its 20th Anniversary year and plays 70 concerts in Europe and Canada. In addition to a Highlight Program, the orchestra presents "An Echo from Europe", dedicated to the style-setting Europeans as Mangelsdorff, Garbarek, Portal, Sclavis and Bates.. Release by Verve on a 3-CD Box which will present three completely different sides of the Orchestra: Powerful Ways (Nine Immortal Nonevergreens for Eric Dolphy); Quiet Ways (Ballads with Betty Carter, Helen Merrill, Sheila Jordan, Linda Sharrock, Anna Lauvergnac, Monika Trotz, Yvonne Moore and Urszula Dudziak); and Unexpected Ways (M, with Corin Courschellas; Petits Moments, with Matthieu Michel; Sunaris for Solo Triangle and Chamber Orchestra; and Short Developments for Wind Quintet). Publication by the highly-reputed Falter publishing house of a book documenting the 20 years of the VAO. A Vienna-Salzburg-Vienna Intercity train adopts the name of the orchestra.


A high point was provided by the rare North American appearance of the Vienna Art Orchestra. (JazzTimes)


Favorite subject of discussion: Today everything’s better than before?

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1998

American Rhapsody - A Tribute to George Gershwin

mathias rüegg produces on instruction of BMG New York a CD for the 100 birthday of the composer. Beside a complete version of "Rhapsody in Blue" (soloist Wolfgang Muthspiel - guitar) and the first set of "Concerto in F" (soloist Franck Tortiller - vibraphone) both played by the VAO, the brilliant Gershwin songs from Dee Dee Bridgewater, Monica Zetterlund, Anna Lauvergnac, Art Farmer, Ray Anderson and Joe Lovano can be heard. Mathias rüegg chooses for each song another line-up. The CD "American Rhapsody - a tribute to George Gershwin" gets a special "note" through Shirley Horn’s trio version "someone to watch over me".


Mathias Rüegg possède une science accomplie de l’arrangement, il a dans son bagage l’art des plus grands, il l’utilise ici avec talent, cherchant seulement à faire les choses comme elles doivent l’être, ce qui est dèjà très bien. (Jazz Magazine)


Favorite subject of discussion: How to improve the sound of a band by omitting the monitoring system?

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1999

Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love

The orchestra enlarges itself to a big band and goes with the program "Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love" on two tours - 29 concerts in Austria, Switzerland, France, England, Spain and China as well as concerts at the Jazzfestivals in Peking, London, Saragossa, Valladolid and Le Mans.
The selected pieces of Ellington - a mixture of known and unknown compositions - are arranged by mathias rüegg. Georg Breinschmid and Mario Gonzi join the band.


Its multi-media tribute to Duke Ellington was one of the best in a centenary year oversubscribed with such events. (Evening Standard)


Favorite subject of discussion: Wynton Marsalis.

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