Wolfgang Muthspiel, whom The New Yorker has called "a shining light" among today's jazz guitarists, returns to the trio format with Angular Blues, his fourth ECM album as a leader, following two acclaimed quintet releases and his trio debut. Like Driftwood – the 2014 trio disc that JazzTimes dubbed "cinematic" and "haunting" – Angular Blues finds the Austrian guitarist paired with long-time collaborator Brian Blade on drums; but instead of Larry Grenadier on bass, this time it's Scott Colley, whose especially earthy sound helps imbue this trio with its own dynamic. Muthspiel plays acoustic guitar on three of the album's tracks and electric on six more. Along with his characteristically melodic originals – including such highlights as the bucolic "Hüttengriffe" and pensive "Camino" – he essays the first standards of his ECM tenure ("Everything I Love" and "I'll Remember April"), as well as his first-ever bebop rhythm-changes tune on record ("Ride"). Angular Blues also features a single guitar-only track, "Solo Kanon in 5/4," with Muthspiel's electronic delay imbuing the baroque-like rounds with a hypnotic glow.
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Muthspiel, Colley and Blade recorded Angular Blues in Tokyo's Studio Dede after a three-night run at the city's Cotton Club. The album was mixed with Manfred Eicher in the South of France at Studios La Buissonne, where Muthspiel had recorded his two previous ECM albums, Rising Grace and Where the River Goes (both of which featured pianist Brad Mehldau and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire). Each of the groups that Muthspiel has put together for his ECM recordings has had a special rapport. About his new trio, the guitarist says: "Scott and Brian share my love of song, while at the same time there is constant musical conversation about these songs."
The Louisiana-born Blade has been a member of the Wayne Shorter Quartet since 2000, along with recording with artists from Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Daniel Lanois and Norah Jones to Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Joshua Redman. Since the mid-'90s, Blade has also co-led the gospel-infused Fellowship Band. Regarding the subtly virtuoso drummer, Muthspiel says: "Brian is famous for his sound and touch, that floating way of playing, how he creates intensity with relatively low volume. It's also a great pleasure for me to witness how sensitively Brian reacts in his playing to whether I play acoustic or electric guitar. I've done a lot of concerts and productions with him over the years, including in our guitar-drums duo, Friendly Travelers, as well as on Driftwood and Rising Grace. He always offers complete interaction and initiative, as well as his individual sound. To play uptempo swing on something like ‘Ride' with Brian was really luxurious, a gift."
After being mentored by Charlie Haden, Colley was the bassist of choice for such jazz legends as Jim Hall, Andrew Hill, Michael Brecker, Carmen McRae and Bobby Hutcherson, along with appearing on albums by Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Chris Potter and Julian Lage. Colley, a native of Los Angeles, has released eight albums as a leader. "Scott and Brian have also played a lot together over the past few years, so they know each other well," Muthspiel notes. "I performed with Scott in New York in the '90s, and I've always felt that he was an extremely giving musician, who – with his warm tone and his flexible, dancing rhythm – simultaneously animated and supported the music. I wrote the bass melody of the new album's first tune, ‘Wondering,' especially for him. His sound develops a flow and harmonic movement that is inviting to play on."
After "Wondering" – which includes extended soloing by Colley that embroiders on Muthspiel's melody beautifully – comes the album's title song, the highly trio-interactive "Angular Blues," so titled for its "rhythmic modulations and strange breaks," the guitarist explains. "Somehow Chick Corea's album Three Quartets was an association, but so was Thelonious Monk." Those first two tracks, as well as the album's third, "Hüttengriffe," feature Muthspiel on acoustic guitar, his sound on the instrument both warm and extraordinarily fluent. After that – on "Camino," "Ride," "Everything I Love," "Kanon in 6/8," "Solo Kanon in 5/4" and "I'll Remember April" – he plays electric. Muthspiel's ever-liquid electric phrasing buoys both an emotionally rich original such as "Camino" and the two different turns on his kaleidoscopic "Kanon," the trio version in 6/8 and the solo, mostly improvised rendition in 5/4.
About his first-time inclusion of jazz standards on one of his ECM albums, Muthspiel says: "I was inspired to record standards with this trio because everything about the way the group plays feels so free, open and far from preconceived ideas, but at the crucial moment a jazz language is spoken, what we do does justice to these tunes. I learned ‘Everything I Love,' the Cole Porter song, from an early Keith Jarrett album, and I first came to know ‘I'll Remember April' from a Frank Sinatra recording. In that latter song, I hardly play solo. It's more about the head and the vamp-like atmosphere that prevails from the start and is savored again in the end. As in many moments with this trio, it's about playing with space: leaving it, creating it, filling it."
Produced by Max Horowitz - Crossover Media, This content, as well as the related podcast, are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) for redistribution and adaptation.
Deutsche Grammophon marked World Piano Day on Saturday 28 March with a global livestream virtual festival featuring ten of their legendary pianists. Over 4 million people in over 100 countries have so far enjoyed the virtual festival, featuring three and a half hours of piano music, via YouTube, Facebook and Medici.tv.
The emotionally charged programme was performed by Maria João Pires, Víkingur Ólafsson, Joep Beving, Rudolf Buchbinder, Seong-Jin Cho, Jan Lisiecki, Kit Armstrong, Simon Ghraichy, Daniil Trifonov and Evgeny Kissin. The pianists pre-recorded intimate live performances on smartphone video, from the safety of their current locations, which were then streamed online to create a unique global virtual festival. Those who missed Saturday's World Piano Day livestream can watch the full concert on the attached video.
READ THE FULL udiscovermusic. ARTICLE & WATCH THE VIDEO
Like Rachmaninoff, Danill Trifonov was born in Russia, and is already considered one of the world's great pianists at age 29. He is also a composer, and made his way to the United States where he settled in New York. Despite all these parallels, Trifonov didn't start studying and performing Rachmaninoff's music until he was 21, but he has made up for lost time by releasing three albums devoted to the composer: an album of Rachmaninoff's three sets of variations in 2015; "Departure", featuring concertos 2 & 4, in 2018; and "Arrival", featuring Concertos 1 & 3, in October 2019. All three were done in collaboration with The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. It was in January 2019, just a few months after the release of Departure, that WETA evening host James Jacobs spoke to Daniil Trifonov backstage at the Kennedy Center during a week in which he was appearing with the NSO. In a wide-ranging conversation Trifonov shares his thoughts on Rachmaninoff and reflects on his own career.
LISTEN TO THE WETA: Wash DC INTERVIEW
Nina Simone's Fodder On My Wings was initially recorded not long after she moved to Paris in 1982. Simone always loved the album, but it remained rather obscure as it was recorded for a small French label and was often in and out of print. It is now being reissued in CD and LP formats with three bonus tracks from a French reissue in 1988. You may have already heard audio or videos for the jubilant "I Sing Just to Know I'm Alive" or "Liberian Calypso."
This is not the rebellious Nina of "Mississippi Goddam" or even the jazzy "My Baby Just Cares For Me." Yet, her signature powerful crescendos ("Thandewye") and shimmering piano flourishes ("Le Peuple En Suisse") are all over the album which is anything but even. These are deeply personal songs, including the aforementioned, "I Sing Just To Know That I'm Alive" and "I Was Just A Stupid Dog To Them," as well a searing lyrical improvisation about the death of her father on "Alone Again (Naturally)."
At the time she recorded the album, Simone was living in France and was extremely lonely; her mental illness was increasing, and her family life was fractured. It's this despair that spawned one of the many album standouts, the near title track "Fodder In Her Wings. "A top music outlet wrote that, the composition "captured with startling intimacy the pain of this period, and she returned to it frequently through the next decade, cutting another studio version three years later (the synth-heavy take on Nina's Back!) and including it on several live albums, including an awe-inspiring performance on 1987's Let It Be Me, continuing, "Simone's vocal makes a song of weariness and defeat carry an air of defiance, a wise word from someone who survived to tell the tale."
Recorded at a time when Simone was feeling rejuvenated by her surroundings and by the African musicians she met in her newly adopted France, Fodder On My Wings is an essential Simone album that is making a long-overdue reappearance.
READ THE FULL glideMagazine REVIEW
When Víkingur Ólafsson was about 5 years old, he already knew what he wanted to be. "It sounds crazy, but I always saw myself as a concert pianist," he says. "Even if I wasn't a good pianist."
The Icelandic musician, who turned 36 last month, has become a very good pianist indeed. Whether playing baroque or contemporary music, Ólafsson's technique is formidable, but it's transparency combined with warmth that has defined his singular sound. He is sought after by the world's top orchestras and concert venues and has signed on with the swanky Deutsche Grammophon record label. After well-received albums of Philip Glass and J.S. Bach, his latest album, Debussy – Rameau, was released March 27.
The recording unfolds almost like a classical mixtape, with Ólafsson juxtaposing tracks by two French composers, born almost two centuries apart, who both broke new ground in music. The pianist says he tried to create a conversation between Jean-Philippe Rameau, the baroque master who literally wrote the book on French harmony, and Claude Debussy, who, straddling the 19th and 20th centuries, absorbed those theories and then, as Ólafsson says, "threw them out the window."
Over the phone from his home in Reykjavík, the young pianist spoke with NPR about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on his relationship to music, the idea of Debussy as a "bank robber" and why he has been dubbed "Iceland's Glenn Gould." This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
To one generation, Karsh Kale needs no introduction- he is one of the pioneers who defined the Asian Underground musical scene of the early '90s. To another generation, he is the guy who scored the famous Train song for Gully Boy (2019). Point this out, and he laughs. Because Kale has always been fiercely protective of his independent artiste tag, and it is ironic that he is known to GenZ for a film song.
""I have experienced situations where I knew it was my skin tone that didn't land me the gig!"
"I am 45 and I have been doing this for too long to be swayed by adulation," he says. "The joy of making music is what you have written and not what happens after the track is released. It is not because you have got so many likes on YouTube, but because you believed in that piece of work before anyone else even heard it. Everything else – numbers and views – is just an illusion."
Kale is also evolving. "I don't want the same things I did when I was 18, and I don't want to die doing the same thing. I have written a few scripts and I want to direct a film. But at the right time!"
READ THE FULL hindustan times ARTICLE
"Why does the world need a Piano Day? For many reasons. But mostly, because it doesn't hurt to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers and most important, the listener." – Nils Frahm
Piano Day, a annual worldwide event founded by a group of likeminded people, takes place on the 88th day of the year – in 2020 it's the 28th March – because of the number of keys on the instrument being celebrated.
The aim of the day is to create a platform for piano related projects in order to promote the development of musical dimensions and to continue sharing the centuries-old joy of playing piano. Piano Day welcomes all kinds of piano lovers - young and old, amateur and professional, of any musical direction – to join in this years festivities. It is intended to be the most joyful of all holidays!
Celebrate World Piano Day with livestreamed concerts and recitals from across the world.
‘Love Letters' marks a different direction for the internationally celebrated artist; it offers a shift in intimacy and content and comes at a pivotal time in her career as she signs to her new record label, Mercury KX.
What we have here is an extremely rare example of a "complete" musician among the violinists of the present day: one of the most sought-after soloists in today's world of music, he regularly performs with leading international orchestras under the most high-profile conductors.
Milan Records today announces the February 28 release of WENDY (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by award-winning composer, songwriter and producer DAN ROMER and the film's award-winning director BENH ZEITLIN.
Wolfgang Muthspiel, whom The New Yorker has called "a shining light" among today's jazz guitarists, returns to the trio format with Angular Blues, the Austrian's fourth ECM album as a leader, following two acclaimed quintet releases and his trio debut.
The partnership between Shabaka Hutchings and South African musicians has produced an imaginative second album / The New York Times
Posted: March 12, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Shabaka and the Ancestors Are Making Their Own Jazz History. The partnership between the British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and a group of South African musicians has produced an imaginative second album. If jazz is looking to reinvent itself - or catch its breath and take stock of how much it already has in the past 10 years or so - the music of Shabaka and the Ancestors might be a good place to start.
A relatively recent partnership between the British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, 35, and a group of South African musicians from the same generation, the Ancestors' music isn't like any other jazz being played today - even in South Africa - but that doesn't mean it can't be a model. Their second album, "We Are Sent Here by History," due Friday, seems to argue that by escaping any single context or outside expectation, a group can hit upon a kind of liberation that's fresh enough to be useful.
"One thing that's come up in our conversations, and has been transmitted into the narrative of the album, is the fact that we need to try to imagine what the future can hold idealistically," Mr. Hutchings said from London in a phone interview. "We need to start articulating our utopias, articulating what needs to be burned and what needs to be saved."
The pillars of this band are the fire-stirring voice of Siyabonga Mthembu; the sinewy, palpitating tenor saxophone of Mr. Hutchings, its leader and main composer; and the churning thrust of its rhythm section: the bassist Ariel Zamonsky, the percussionist Gontse Makhene and the drummer Tumi Mogorosi.
The alto saxophonist Mthunzi Mvubu is also deeply in the mix, often entwined with Mr. Hutchings's lines. So are a few guest musicians, who appear on the album in select spots: the pianists Nduduzo Makhathini and Thandi Ntuli, and the trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni. All but Mr. Hutchings are based in Johannesburg or nearby Soweto.
The bandleader typically writes out the basic structure of each piece, but "that's just the first step," he said. "How the musicians then react to it, give their feedback - that's what creates the album, the energy, good music."
Mr. Hutchings is a linchpin and an ambassador of the London scene, but the defining quality of his life and music has been travel. As a child, he spent years living in Barbados, internalizing its musical and cultural traditions, before returning to London for high school. It was on a series of trips to South Africa, stemming from a romantic relationship, that Mr. Hutchings fell in with Mr. Mlangeni and the members of his Amandla Freedom Ensemble, most of whom would eventually join the Ancestors.
Mr. Mthembu, whose art-rock band The Brother Moves On has always stood adjacent to Johannesburg's jazz scene proper, was glad to finally link up with this cast of improvisers. "Brother Moves On has always been this periphery act," Mr. Mthembu said. "The jazz cats never got why we were able to get the jazz venues full." When he was invited to the first recording session for Mr. Hutchings's band in 2015, he said, "Everyone on it was cats that I looked up to in Joburg."
Mr. Mthembu was supposed to record vocals on just two tracks, but he ended up staying for the entire session and appears on about half of the Ancestors' stirring debut album, "Wisdom of Elders," which was released the next year on Brownswood Recordings. Mr. Hutchings soon signed a multi-project contract with Impulse! Records; "We Are Sent Here by History" will be his third album for the label in three years, and his first on Impulse! with the Ancestors.
Mr. Hutchings has said he hoped the band would capture some of the "restless energy" of Johannesburg, a metropolitan but deeply working-class city, where much of the arts activity takes place underground. "We Are Sent Here by History" is intended specifically as both a lament and an embrace of the coming climate apocalypse.
"We're talking about imaginative structures, we're talking about how we perceive things and how we process information that's given to us - how we see ourselves in the sense of how we relate to history," he said. "Hopefully it's just a starting point to get people thinking about their own relationship to these things."
The members of the Ancestors all have a distanced relationship to the American jazz tradition, which is to say they enjoy the privilege of choice. Together they have plucked some specific inspirations - the spiritual jazz of Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders; and the recent success of Kamasi Washington, which showed them what might be possible - but more or less left the rest. Beyond that, the Ancestors' sonic inheritance comes mostly from South Africa, from bands like the Zulu jazz-rockers Batsumi and the numerous apartheid-era musicians who found refuge in Britain like Louis Moholo, Chris McGregor, Johnny Dyani and Hugh Masekela.
"There's a sense that there is a particular sound that's being inherited, but then there's also a shared forward motion with other people from other parts of the world," said Mr. Mogorosi, the drummer. "We're trying to use the tradition to do something more with it - or rather, using the tradition to try to bring play into it. I think this sense of play really pushes things forward."
For Mr. Mthembu, moving ahead also means putting pieces of history back together that have been ripped apart, or simply repressed. "I think imagining - in an African space and in African philosophy - is remembering," he said. "Remembering that your people had ways, they had a science, they had ways of talking about the creator, had other idioms and metaphors. And it's in the words that the remembering comes."
Mr. Hutchings's other two ensembles - the raving, synth-driven Comet Is Coming and the propulsive, two-drummer Sons of Kemet, both featuring British musicians - are meant to get listeners dancing and seeing the Holy Ghost. The Ancestors work at a lower, deeper register; it's not dance music, but it is still meant to move you. It may be the most imaginative of the musician's three groups.
Much of the time, the only instrument carrying a melody is the bass, undergirding Mr. Mthembu's stern voice as he intones lyrics in Zulu and Xhosa in a big, quavering baritone or recites words (in English) adapted from the visionary verse of Lindokuhle Nkosi, a young South African poet. Even on some of the liveliest tracks - like "Behold the Deceiver," with its weaving horns and bubbling riot of drums and percussion - the bass hardly wavers from a single incantatory phrase.
In the eerie soundscaping of "You've Been Called," the album's second song, the South African saxophonist Zim Ngqawana's influence looms as large as that of John Cage. Swathed in a cloud of noxious little howls and echoes, Mr. Mthembu reveals the meaning of the album's title: "We possess the power to pray our own devils back to hell, back to the burning," he says. "We are sent here by history." PHOTO: Mark Abramson Adama Jalloh
Crossover Media Projects with Shabaka & The Ancestors
On March 13, Shabaka & The Ancestors will make their Impulse! debut with the band's sophomore album We Are Sent Here By History. Their breakout 2016 album, Wisdom of Elders, established Shabaka & The Ancestors as a sudden force in spiritual jazz. But where that record warned of impending societal collapse, this one unfolds within it. Shabaka refers to the album as a "meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning." On the lead single "Go My Heart, Go To Heaven," Siyabonga pays homage to his father's favorite church song. The word "hamba" (or "go") is repeated, and within the context of this track, it's "about the point where one gives in and wants out of this world," Siyabonga says. "But in times of darkness is a call to the light and the heart."