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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update 03-2016


Face Music - the idea arose from the need to build bridges, to contribute to a better understanding of other cultures and minorities.

It all started with concerts (under the banner of the "Music Circus Association") in the Canton of Thurgau, the chosen home of the founder, Urs-Albert, of Face Music. Here the idea was put into practice of bringing new music into the region in order to inject a little more life into the existing local scene. Many people had had enough of always having to turn to the big cities, and wanted certain activities to be created in country areas. The effort was already being made to provide a platform for young people and to open their minds to music as an expression of joy and a way of encountering other cultures. Quality was called for, a route away from the cult of the star and back to music as an experience containing a certain degree of intimacy between the performers and the audience.

Music is meant to have an effect on other people, to communicate a mood and a message. Music can be entertaining and witty, but ought not to be simply a superficial background noise, even if it often is no more than that. It can also indicate problem areas. It is not supposed to push everyday worries into the background, like a sort of "machine music" generated more by producers than by musicians. The musicians want their personal music, and themselves, to be taken seriously. As in life in general, tolerance needs to be shown and the attempt made to feel one's way into other people's situations, rather than simply taking over "pre-chewed" fashion-music.

Too much is played back, too few people create anything of their own. But perhaps what is lacking is seriousness, because for many musicians music is merely a way of scratching a living.

The first concerts took place in small towns and villages like Frauenfeld, Kreuzlingen, Romanshorn, Sommeri, Wängi, and Weinfelden. International or national groups were invited together with regional ones, and the music covered various different styles: jazz, rock, and folk. The concerts were held in many different kinds of location such as village halls, secondary school halls, and even in the open air during the summer. Blues, jazz, rock, theater, and traditional folk-music was already to be found on one and the same stage, and the young audiences not only tolerated this but also rewarded it with enthusiastic applause. Also, regional qualification rounds were held for the national jazz and rock festival. The whole effort was supported by the active assistance of regional musicians, media workers, secondary-school pupils, and of course regional and national sponsors.

The performers from 1978 to 1981 were ... (see Appendix 1).

Of course, Urs-Albert ("Albi"), as the manager responsible for this project, never lost contact with the big cities, and collaborated on such shows as "Musig am Määntig" in Zurich, "factory-jazz" in the Red Factory in Zurich, and "Musig bi dä Lüüt" in Thalwil, and also played an active part in setting up MKS, the "MusikerInnen Kooperative Schweiz" (or "Swiss Musicians' Cooperative").

The establishment of "Face Music" in 1987

"Albi" has to this day remained true to his endeavors in also inviting groups that had no infrastructure of their own, and no so-called "lobby". The concerts brought variety into the contemporary scene, and were gratefully rewarded by the public. The tours and concerts demonstrated, by the lively demand for tapes and records, that there is a need to take an active part in productions, and this is the reason why the "Face Music Switzerland" publishing house was established.

Today, nothing has changed. The music business still tends towards trendy, fast-selling consumer goods, which forces the artistic aspect further and further into the background. Increasing commercial exploitation robs art of its habitat. Any active protagonist of culture looking for ways of working on forms of expression and a quality of life will run counter to a ruling opinion that accepts only a commercial basis, and will be put off with the argument that "there is no real interest in that sort of thing".

State subsidies have been cut back, so many organizers have had to change their strategies or even drop their plans for lack of money. The increasing privatization of sponsorship is leading to a situation in which support is only available if the project is to have an effect on the broad mass of the public.

We hope that we will gain direct access to an interested and open-minded audience with our cross-section of productions, and can motivate people to listen for a while and discover something new. It is perfectly possible that a New Taste will be discovered. We are looking for, and need, a broad basis of music-lovers who enjoy our carefully selected productions, and we intend to develop further together with our musicians.

We also started with jazz-rock or Fusion.

A first attempt at linking these styles was made in the mid-1960s by rock musicians from England, headed by "Colosseum", with the musicians Jon Hiseman and Dick Heckstall-Smith, and "Cream", with Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, and the guitarist John McLaughlin. On the west coast of America it was Frank Zappa with his "Mothers of Invention" and other American groups such as "Blood Sweat and Tears" and "Chicago".

The era of Fusion was directly influenced by the jazz side, first by the "Miles Davis Group", which included Herbie Hancock, the "Mahavishnu Orchestra", Joe Zawinuls' "Weather Report", Chick Coreas' "Return to Forever", or Tony Williams' "Lifetime".

In Europe it is worth recalling the "United Jazz & Rock Ensemble", Klaus Doldinger's "Passport", and the French artist Jean-Luc Ponty, and also the Polish should certainly not be forgotten: names like Zbigniew Seifert, Namyslowski, and the Cracow Collective "Laboratorium".

Towards the end of the 1970s, names turn up like "Yes", "Gentle Giant", "King Crimson", and "Genesis"; the "Art Rock" was born.

African musicians have made a name for themselves internationally, such as Youssou N'Dour (Senegal), Toure Kounda (Senegal), Salif Keita (Mali), King Sunny Ade (Nigeria), Manu Dibango (Cameroon), Thomas Mapfumo (Zimbabwe), or Sipho Mabuse (South Africa).

The pioneers in helping the world to understand Africa were Miriam Makeba, Blackboold, Osibisa, and Africa Djolé. Groups like Kapingbdi (Liberia) and Mombassa (Kenya) aroused enthusiasm all over the country with their rhythms for the pure joy of living and for the "African Groove". Saraba, with musicians from various different West African states, and Susu Bilibi (Togo), achieved the highest levels of popularity for African groups on the German scene. With Kalifi and Nokoko Ye, groups followed up with traditional rhythms and dancing from Ghana.

Other names followed later such as Farafina (Burkina Faso), Fatala (Guinea), The Drummers of Burundi (Burundi), Papa Wemba (Zaire), Geoffrey Oryema (Uganda), Remy Ongala (Tanzania), Rossy (Madagascar), Ali Farka Toure (Mali), and many others.

Many are still popular today: Zap Mama, Angélique Kidjo, Lokua Kanza, Johnny Glegg, Kanda Bongo Man, Fela Kuti, Baba Maal, and others too numerous to name.


Gaafar, Fathy, Albi & Hossam

Batsaikhan, Bolot, Yavgaan & Nohon

Appendix 1
- Adversus, Africana All Stars, Allegretto Quintett, Appenzeller Streichmusik Bänziger, Asphalt Blues Company, Belvedere, Bepejama, Beat Brechtbühl's Elephant, Bucks, Cameleon, Circus, Clips, Colletivo Teatrale, Dragon Fly, Exit, Frauenfelder Rock-Oper "Paul", Galgevögel, Gallis Erbe, Georges Tempest, Godot, Grauzonen-Express, Heinz Lieb Quartett, Hoity Toity, Infra Steff's Red Devil Band, Jazzforum Big Band Aarau, Jeff's Rhein Rockers, Trio KKK, Kifaru, Kjol, Lazy Poker Blues Band, Mano, Meridies, Off & Out, OM, Plamp, Markus Portenier Trio, Sic, Shaggy Dog Revival Band, Shivananda, Suspended Four, Tabasco, Theatergruppe Theogovia, TNT, Töbi Tobler, Uhuru Quintett, VAL 5, Yours Truly.
- Baba Yaga (D), Crash (PL), Dave Burrell (USA), Déjà Vu (D), Changes (D), Imre Köszegi Group (H), Laboratorium (PL), Lumpenpack (D), Neighbours (A), Pekka Pohjola Group (FIN), Piirpauke (FIN), Rotglut (D), SBB (PL), Slawomir Kulpowicz Trio (PL), Smith-Kowald-Sommer (USA-D), Timeless (A), Vargavinter (S).


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