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.
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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.
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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.
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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!"
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"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.
Despite its modernist ring, microtonal music is not a recent phenomenon. The term was first coined over a century ago, and the concept - music using altered pitches and tuning systems to play notes not found in the standard Western twelve-tone system - has been utilized as far back as history books go. But thanks to the internet, the ease of self-education through YouTube tutorials, and the advancement of musical technology, microtonal music has evolved into an (almost) mainstream field of study and expression.
Founder of MicroFest, John Schneider is a guitarist and arranger who also writes for harp and percussion. A professor of music at Los Angeles Pierce College, Schneider also hosts the KPFK Los Angeles weekly radio program "Global Village."
From Fri., Feb. 28 to Sun., March 1, a slate of local and international groups will explore microtonality from a variety of approaches through a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments, light shows, video projections, and dance, as well as lectures from experts in the field. Performers include Del Sol String Quartet (San Francisco), MikroEnsemble (Finland), Brightwork Ensemble (Los Angeles), and Pittsburgh musicians Aaron Myers-Brooks, Nuiko Wadden, and Lindsey Goodman, and many more.
Recorded live to the highest industry standards in front of the magnificent scenery of Beijing's Forbidden City, this unique gala concert celebrates the 120th anniversary of Deutsche Grammophon. The concert features conductor Long Yu and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, both freshly signed as exclusive recording artists to Deutsche Grammophon, and performances from Aida Garifullina, Daniil Trifonov, Mari Samuelsen, and more.
Impulse! has brought together some of the great progressive jazz musicians of our time to pay tribute to The Beatles'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. A Day In The Life: Impressions of Pepper will be available on vinyl for Record Store Day on November 23, available on CD, digital, and streaming platforms on November 30, with a wide vinyl release on January 18, 2019.
A Day In The Life: Impressions of Pepper includes performances and interpretations by artists such as UK saxophonist and Impulse! recording artist Shabaka Hutchings, Impulse! pianist Sullivan Fortner, Verve recording artist Miles Mosley, Onyx Collective, percussionist Antonio Sanchez, guitarist Mary Halvorson, The JuJu Exchange and more.
This stellar lineup represents some of the great progressive jazz artists from around the world: Shabaka from the UK Jazz scene, Miles Mosley and Cameron Graves from LA's West Coast Get Down, Onyx Collective from NYC, Makaya McCraven and the JuJu Exchange from Chicago.
Many people picture grim-faced Beethoven, shaking his fist at the heavens and persisting through deafness and illness to compose works of transcendent beauty, but he also stirs emotions that feel both deeply personal and ubiquitous. There are moments of red-cheeked optimism, quiet introspection, playful dances, heroic declarations, a restless search for the sublime. And while Beethoven is perhaps most famous for his sonatas and symphonies, he composed an opera, chamber works, songs, sacred music, incidental music for the stage, even dances. Taken together, these selections paint a rich portrait of Beethoven's humanity, which has attracted artists of the highest caliber such as Leonard Bernstein, Carlos Kleiber, Janine Jansen, and Martha Argerich. Some of these recordings are legendary, but all of them jump out with their undeniable virtuosity and brilliance. This collection may remind you of that iconic portrait of immortal Genius suffering for Art, but it will also reacquaint you with an artist from another time who somehow captured so much of the human experience.
Decca Records is proud to release The Official Recording of The Royal Wedding, one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year. Having recorded the entire service live at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle today, every piece of music, the readings, blessings and the vows will be available to listen to permanently on all streaming services in just a few hours: a first for a Royal Wedding. The physical album, on CD, will then be released into retail stores around the world from 1st June.
The musical highlight of the moving and joyous ceremony was British cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, one of the most exciting musicians of his generation, who was personally asked by the bride and groom to perform at their wedding. The 19-year-old musician took centre stage for the all-important signing of the register. Dressed in a black Paul Smith suit with vibrant pink tie, Sheku played three beautiful pieces: "Sicilienne" by von Paradis, Schubert's "Ave Maria," and "Après Un Rêve" by Fauré. He was accompanied by orchestra*, as the Royal Couple officially became husband and wife. Knowing he was performing not only for the Royal Family, 600 invited guests in the Chapel, and an estimated global audience of up to three billion people, the talented teenager was thrilled to be involved in the occasion:
History was written in 2000 BC, and 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of Brahms' Lullaby, so this precious musical tradition has deep cultural and emotional roots. These personal songs bring people together, span generations, and tell stories about where we come from, who we are now, and our hopes for the future. The legacy continues with the release of Hopes and Dreams: The Lullaby Project on Decca Gold (Verve Label Group). The recording is inspired by the Lullaby Project, a program of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute which pairs pregnant women, new mothers, and family members with professional artists to write and sing personal lullabies for their babies, supporting maternal health, aiding child development, and strengthening the bond between parent and child. Hopes and Dreams: The Lullaby Project features fifteen lullabies written by parents from across New York City, as performed by Fiona Apple, the Brentano String Quartet, Lawrence Brownlee, Rosanne Cash, Joyce DiDonato, Janice Freeman (The Voice 2017), Rhiannon Giddens (Nashville), Angélique Kidjo, Patti LuPone, Natalie Merchant (10,000 Maniacs), Dianne Reeves, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Pretty Yende, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
The second installment of the Jazz Loves Disney series, Jazz Loves Disney 2: A Kind of Magic features guest artists including Angélique Kidjo, Laura Mvula, Jamie Cullum, Jacob Collier, George Benson, Madeleine Peyroux and more, taking on beloved melodies from the Disney canon. The album will be released on Verve Records on November 10. The Jazz Loves Disney series celebrates the nostalgia and universal appeal of the music of Disney films. The rich catalogue of Disney songs that span genres and generations inspired producer Jay Newland and arranger Rob Mounsey to continue the series.
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The Passion of Charlie Parker is a new album from producer Larry Klein that tells the story of Charlie Parker using his music as inspiration for new songs that narrate his life. Guest artists include Gregory Porter, Madeleine Peyroux, Kandace Springs, actor Jeffrey Wright, and more. The album will be available on impulse!/ Verve digitally on June 16, with physical release to follow on June 30. Larry Klein says, "With this album I've endeavored to do something new and different in an effort to illustrate who ‘Bird' was as an archetypal character, and to draw attention to the huge impact that his work had on Jazz." Rather than create another tribute of traditional bebop tunes, Klein partnered with lyricist David Baerwald to create a musical play that tells the story of Charlie Parker's life while still playing with the jagged melodic nature of Charlie Parker's compositions.
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