Travellin’ Light

Samuel Blaser
Answers 20 Questions About Life on the Road

Pierre Favre + Samuel Blaser                                                                                  ©Jacques Ditisheim 2013

Swiss trombonist/composer Samuel Blaser studied at the Conservatory of La Chaux-de-Fonds, and enjoyed a brief stint with the Vienna Art Orchestra before a Fulbright scholarship brought him to New York, where he lived before relocating to Berlin in 2009. Blaser currently works in a number of international line-ups, from duos with pianists Bobby Avey and Malcolm Braff to a variety of projects led by the legendary Swiss drummer Pierre Favre. He has appeared as a sideman alongside clarinetist François Houle, saxophonist Michael Blake and drummer John Hollenbeck, although his most enduring ensemble relationship has been with his Quartet, featuring French guitarist Marc Ducret, bassist Bänz Oester and drummer Gerald Cleaver. The four-piece’s latest effort, As The Sea, was recorded live in 2012, and issued the following year by hatOLOGY.

2013 found Blaser touring with two new trios: one with Ducret and Danish drummer Peter Bruun; and another featuring French pianist Benoît Delbecq and American drummer Gerry Hemingway, whose debut, Fourth Landscape, was released by Nuscope Recordings. Marrying the seemingly disparate elements of Renaissance and Baroque period composition with open-ended jazz improvisation, Blaser also reunited his Consort in Motion quintet with pianist Russ Lossing, Belgian reed player Joachim Badenhorst, bassist Drew Gress and Hemingway for A Mirror to Machout, the group’s 2013 follow-up to its 2011 self-titled Kind of Blue Records debut.

In 2014, Blaser plans to record two sessions for hatOLOGY: the first, Audio Rebels, is a series of duets with Ducret; the second is a trio date with Ducret and Bruun. Blaser is also scheduled to collaborate with Ravi Coltrane, Lossing, Gress and Cleaver in a project exploring the music of Jimmy Giuffre for Fortune Recordings. In January, Blaser will be playing in New York with various musicians including Masa Kamaguchi and Billy Mintz, and by mid-January he will be back in Berlin, performing a piece for three trombones and percussion written by Hollenbeck. The trombonist will also be touring throughout Europe with Consort in Motion in early February and taking his trio with Ducret and Brunn to Brazil later in the month. In March he will tour France with J.A.S.S, a collaborative with Alban Darche, Sébastien Boisseau and Hollenbeck.

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What is the most difficult airline to deal with in terms of instruments and equipment?

They are all sort of difficult when you have a trombone as hand luggage especially with national connections. But the worst are probably Easy Jet or Ryanair. Never show you have a trombone in hand.


Which airline has the worst economy seating and food?

British Airways or Iberia.


Which airport is craziest for making connecting flights?

Paris Charles de Gaulle.


What is the most important thing you ever forgot to pack?

I have never forgotten anything – yet!


What is your worst lost baggage story?

They lost my luggage only once. I was flying from Dubai to Geneva in December and packed my winter jacket in the suitcase. When I arrived in Switzerland, I had no luggage and no jacket. It was -10 and went home with a t-shirt only!


What country hassles musicians the most at customs and passport checks?



Which city has the worst cab drivers?

I would say country: Germany.


What is the best hotel that a presenter has provided for you?

In China. I always had luxurious suites and hotel rooms.


Do you travel with a laptop or a PDA? If so, how many times a day do you check your e-mail?

Yes I do and I check my emails regularly.


Do you listen to music on the road? If so, what device do you use?

Yes! My music library is on my computer. I also have an iPod.


Do you do your own laundry on the road?



What is your most nightmarish sound check to date?

I try to keep them short and try to play as acoustic as possible so never had the “chance” to have a nightmarish sound check.


What is the scariest food that has been laid out for you backstage?

Uncooked rice with sticky fish (was it fish?).


What are your three favorite venues?

Hnita, Heist Op Den Berg in Belgium; Sint-Janshospitaal, Brugge, Belgium; Casa do Mateus, Cabo Frio, Brazil.


Which cities have the best restaurants for late after-gig meals?

New York; all over China; Warsaw.


Which cities have the best after-hours sessions?

I don’t attend after-hours sessions.


What is the best city that closes down too early?

If you wish, you can always find something open somewhere!


What is the best locale to have a day off?

Cabo Frio, Brazil. Amazing 8 km white sand and deserted beach.


What is your cure for jet lag?



What is your best tip for the novice?

Enjoy the adventure.

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