Imprint Contact
Samuel Blaser Official


Steel Pulse
Both real and self-proclaimed visionaries are apparently immortal. Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison and others appear from time to time somewhere as undead or revenants. Lee "Scratch" Perry has not been seen since his death on August 29, 2021, perhaps because he is immortal anyway as a born-again messiah, thunder god, rainmaker, sun king, and great storyteller.
In Volker Schaner's film "Lee Scratch Perry's Vision of Paradise" he is asked: "Do you serve God when you make music?". His answer: "Of course! God wants to be entertained.” Great truths are always simple. And the Munich journalist and musician Jakob Biazza probably has a sense for the supernatural, incomprehensible, inexplicable. In the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" on August 29, 2021, he wrote in an obituary: "Of course, great nonsense to claim now that Lee Perry has died. Ghosts don't die. If they leave this world at all, they take on an even more volatile state of aggregation, atomize and finally spread into the last pores of this world. Lee Perry, nicknamed 'Scratch', reggae pioneer, dub creator, a ghost for everyone, who once took the spiritual just a tad too seriously, and superlative-whatever any music that ever came close to being off-beat has finally spread into the world. That's what people are saying.” ('Sorry – I had to quote that much.)

The conclusion first: The visionary Lee "Scratch" Perry is alive. His music lives. Even in Switzerland. Or, just in Switzerland? After all, Perry lived with Mireille "Miri" Ruegg, whom he married in November 1991 in Zurich, and their two children from 1989, in Einsiedeln in the canton of Schwyz. "Miri" is also his manager. After Perry's second recording studio, the "Secret Laboratory" in Switzerland burned down in 2015, he resided again in "God's spaceship", as he announced in an interview, or, a little less prosaically, in Green Island, somewhere in between Negril and Lucea in Jamaica, in the Parish of Hanover. Incidentally, his legacy is still managed by Miri Ruegg.

Aliens von outta space

"Dubs remixed by Lee Scratch Perry in July 2021 at Hyghwaves Recording Studio, Green Island, Hanover, Jamaica," promises the latest CD by Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser. The songs "Rainy Days" and "Green Island" can be heard twice on it: in the original with the band and as a remix with Lee "Scratch" Perry himself. Digital working methods also allow worldwide cooperation.
Miri Ruegg personally gave Sam Blaser permission to work with the "Upsetter".
Samuel Blaser & Lee Perry - Album Routes 2023

The album will be released on Werner Aldinger's Yellow Bird label (Enja) in Munich, which has relevant experience with visionaries: Sun Ra's last CD "Destination Unknown", a live recording from the "Moonwalker" in Aarburg from 1992, was also released here. Some circles close by themselves... Sun Ra - a brother of Lee "Scratch" Perry, at least in spirit? After all, Perry's Black Ark and Sun Ra's Arkestra work with the same arcaic material. "Jamaican ET" is the name of an "extraterrestrial" LP by Perry, and Sun Ra's roots also lie somewhere in "Outta Space". As aliens from another world, they graciously stay on earth as visitors and leave their music here - as traces, a legacy and a direction. Reggae or jazz? Doesn't matter: The two masterminds are not interested in geographical or genre-related borders anyway. Perry creates his own cosmos in Switzerland with the help of his wife. The Sun Ra Arkestra also presented its interplanetary music in November 2003 in Poschiavo in Italian-speaking Switzerland at the Uncool Festival in the Cinema Rio. In February 2013, the 24-piece Spatial AKA Orchestra performed Sun Ra's cosmic jazz, spacey versions of Jerry Dammers' own songs and other kindred spirits in Berlin as part of the Inhumane Music series. Space is the place, or maybe even Switzerland is «the place»? Reggae and jazz with ska and rocksteady as missing links?

Cosmopolitan Samuel

The Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser is also a satellite in this cosmos, a constant traveler between genres, constantly on the road, always on the way to new shores, a free spirit who mixes again and again with the most diverse musical worlds.

Samuel Blaser

Between 2013 and 2020 he gave around 150 concerts worldwide with guitarist Marc Ducret and drummer Peter Bruun alone, including a particularly impressive one in November 2022 at the French Institute in Berlin. His role models are Albert Mangelsdorff (whose "Multiphonics" he has fully integrated into his playing), Eje Thelin, Åke Persson, George Lewis and Ray Anderson. He mostly commutes between Berlin and Switzerland. It is not without reason that one of his albums is called "Boundless". ...
"Medieval and baroque music fascinate him just as much as Stravinsky and new music, Jimmy Giuffre, blues, fusion and free jazz," praises Karsten Mützelfeldt in his "JazzFacts" portrait on Deutschlandfunk. And maybe this constant state of restlessness is even a characteristic of truly great musicians? Like Lee "Scratch" Perry and Sun Ra, Samuel Blaser is also incredibly productive: his discography already includes around 30 CDs and LPs under his own name, and he plays on others as a sought-after sideman. Born on July 20, 1981 in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel - the "ville à la campagne" (town in the country) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009 due to the well-preserved chessboard-like buildings. Today, at the age of 41, he holds a leading position as one of the best trombonists in the world.

Samuel Blaser

Raised in a music-loving household, after graduating from the conservatory he played in the Vienna Art Orchestra and the European Radio Big Band, before going on a Fulbright scholarship to the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, State University of New York. “New York totally changed my idea of jazz and improvised music. The energy there is unique and really inspiring,” he later confesses. After that, Berlin became his home base for a few years. In 2005, Samuel Blaser's first recordings appeared on the YVP music label under the title "Rêves" with Stefan Aeby (piano), David Pouradier Duteil (drums) and Yves Torchinsky (bass). In 2006 he founded his first band, followed by the first CD in 2008 under his own name - "7th Heaven", albums with Daniel Humair, Marc Ducret, Gerry Hemingway, Pierre Favre, Paul Motian, Peter Bruun and others anchor him in the jazz community. The first solo CD is called “Solo Bone” (2009), the second “18 Monologues Élastiques” (2020). In 2019 he won the European Jazz Award, two years later he was number 1 in the "DownBeat" poll as the best newcomer trombonist.

Reggae behind the sofa

Als When Lee "Scratch" Perry recorded his LP "Panic In Babylon" in 2004, not only was the Swiss band White Belly Rats there - but also Samuel Blaser with his trombone. An initial spark? Away from jazz towards reggae? Samuel Blaser: “The first time I heard reggae was probably with my mother. She has listened to a lot of music - including Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte and Bob Marley.
I remember one night I didn't want to go to sleep and she was watching a show with Bob Marley on TV. I hid behind the sofa and watched the show behind her back.
Lee Perry - Panic In Babylon - Album Routes 2004

That was probably my first contact with reggae. I come from an area in Switzerland that is currently very reggae oriented. There are a lot of local bands there. When I was studying at the conservatory in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the canton of Neuchâtel, my hometown, I took lessons from my trombone teacher, along with another trombonist who was studying pedagogy and played in a reggae band, but wanted to quit. So he contacted me. I played with this band when I was about 17 or 18. We rehearsed every week and we had a lot of performances. The band was called The Moonraisers and they weren't a bad band. The producer's name was Pascal Brunkow and he had relationships with Lee "Scratch" Perry, Dennis Bovell and Oku Onuora. Though he was a reggae producer, in my opinion he was more of a techno producer. After that, we recorded the album 'Panic in Babylon' in 2004 in a studio in Neuchâtel with the Moonraisers horn group, the White Belly Rats and Lee 'Scratch' Perry. However, I did not meet any of the musicians personally. That was just a recording session, the music went around the world via sound files beforehand. But that sound wasn't really my thing – it was quite electronic. The horns were mixed on the computer. But I gained experience and I think the album did quite well at the time.” Incidentally, it's now quite sought after by collectors.

Greetings from the Skatalites ...

In 2021 his digital-single "The Don Drummond Tribute - The Great Tommy McCook" was released on his own label, Blaser Music. Why Don Drummond and Tommy McCook? Samuel Blaser: “Both are co-founders of the Skatalites. I have heard them many times in concert, in New York, in Switzerland, and most recently in Tampere, Finland, the day before we presented our 'Routes' project to the public for the first time."
The album: best sound à la Skatalites, with Soweto Kinch (alto saxophone), Michael Blake (tenor and soprano saxophone), Alex Wilson (piano, Hammond organ, melodica), Alan Weekes (guitar), Ira Coleman (bass) and Dion Parson (drums), recorded that at the Tampere Jazz Happening in Finland on November 2, 2019.
Samuel Blaser - Don Drummond Tribute - Album 2020
Preparations for the album "Routes" are already underway. With the exception of Michael Blake, these musicians also provide an authentic ska and reggae sound on the CD "Routes", which will be released a little later than originally announced, on May 12, 2023. Soweto Kinch was a featured guest with Jazz Jamaica and the Jazz Jamaica All Stars, founded by Ernest Ranglin in 1991, and the second guest, singer Carroll Thompson, aka "Queen of Lovers Rock", also has relevant references. Who doesn't know her "Simply In Love" from 1980? In 2021 her LP "Hopelessly In Love" was released as a "40th Anniversary Expanded Edition". On "Routes" she sings "Rainy Days" and "Beautiful Bed Of Lies". The bassist Heiri Känzig strengthens the team with "Lady Rowlinson". The credits on the opener "Silver Dollar" are also interesting and well-known: Steve Turre (shells, trombone), Jennifer Warthon (bass trombone), John Fedchock, Glenn Ferris and Johan Escalante (all: trombone).

… and by Lee "Scratch" Perry

First of all: Samuel Blaser and Lee "Scratch" Perry never met in person. Samuel Blaser: “When Alex Wilson and I started working on the Routes project, we had no idea about the whole album. First, we decided to do two tracks that we wanted to release as an EP. We started with "Green Island" because that was my first idea and I arranged the piece for six trombones and a rhythm section. It was a lot of work and it took us a lot of time. Then we decided on a second track, we got in touch with Carroll Thompson and she agreed to sing her part on a track that I then sent her. That's how it started. I wondered if we couldn't find someone to dub those two tracks for a 12 inch, with the two original tracks and the two dubs on the other side. I knew Lee Perry lived in Switzerland and I had done some recordings for him even though we had never met. I wanted to talk to Lee Perry to see if he would agree to dub those two tracks. Miri Ruegg promised a "COVID price" and said they wanted to help musicians. But of course, I had no guarantees as to what Lee Perry would do.

Samuel Blaser

I had to pay in advance and crossed my fingers that the dub would turn out to be good quality. Lee Perry was no longer living in Switzerland – I think it was too cold for him there, so he went back to Jamaica where he bought land to build the 'LSP Paradise'. He dubbed 'Green Island' and 'Rainy Days' in a very small studio in Green Island. And he also added some voice to the dubs, although that wasn't his original plan. Rolling Stone was doing an extensive documentary film about him at that time. The photographers were thrilled to catch him singing on these tracks too. I was very nervous about getting the dubs back, but when I heard them I was absolutely blown away. He clearly put a lot of time into them and was very picky and smart about what he removed and what he added. We agreed that he should dub the entire album and I had already recorded another six tracks hoping he would dub and produce the entire album. We agreed on a price and the time frame, but he passed away a day later. That was the end of our adventure.”

„Play It Once, Sam!“

Sam Blaser knows how to set the course in the jazz or reggae direction with somnambulistic certainty. His typically Swiss, down-to-earth attitude protects him from slipping up. And good thing there are still CDs out there. After all, every CD is a small piece of everyone involved. Nevertheless: live is live.
Samuel Blaser: “We hope to be able to present 'Routes' live this year. We are working with Mark van den Berg from Music Without Borders, which is one of the best, if not the best booking agency in Europe for this kind of music. We will be on tour in summer and autumn of 2023. We definitely want to play this program live, that's our goal. So far, hardly anyone knows me as a reggae musician. Most are surprised that I would do something like this – and not just as a sideman on various projects.” And the chance of that happening is pretty good. After all, Ilsa in the classic film "Casablanca" said: "Play it once, Sam!" Play it again and again and again!
Samuel Blaser - Album Routes 2023

The album "Routes" will be released world-wide on May 12, 2023 by Enja Records (Yellow Bird) in Munich. On January 27th, 2023, a single with "Chronicles" came out. A second single with "Beautiful Bed Of Lies" will follow in March.

Author: Rainer Bratfisch
English version: Patricia Johnston
Photos: Alex Troesch


Samuel Blaser - Routes - Album 2023Samuel Blaser - The Don Drummond Tribute - Album 2020