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.
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.
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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!"
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.
Vikingur Olafsson's latest recording is a sprawling juxtaposition of Debussy and Rameau / The New York Times
Posted: March 20, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
The pianist Vikingur Olafsson's recording career could be described as a constant refusal to be pinned down.
His debut on the Deutsche Grammophon label, in 2017, featured Philip Glass's études, and he was encouraged to follow it with more Minimalism. But Mr. Olafsson insisted on something else entirely: a winding album of Bach. Again, he was asked to record more of the same.
And again, Mr. Olafsson, now 36, didn't. His third Deutsche Grammophon album - "Debussy Rameau," out March 27 - is similar to his Bach in its sprawling ambition. But it's new in its juxtapositional structure.
The album's 28 tracks, which include a tender transcription by Mr. Olafsson from Rameau's opera "Les Boréades," are a dual portrait and an experimental colloquy, exploring what these two composers share across centuries: pathbreaking individualism, and, at times, a synesthetic approach to music.
The program begins with Debussy's 1906 transcription of the prelude to his cantata "La Damoiselle Élue," which is based on a poem and painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It depicts an impossible conversation - a woman gazing at her lover from heaven - which is how Mr. Olafsson envisioned the album. So the prelude, with its inconclusive ending, leads directly into Rameau's "Le Rappel des Oiseaux," and the cross-temporal exchange goes from there.
In an interview at Walt Disney Concert Hall here in February, Mr. Olafsson said that he spends about six months assembling the pieces that will go into his albums before he even begins to learn them in earnest.
And between each album release - a period of 18 months or so - he tours programs unrelated to his recording projects. He was in California appearing with his Icelandic countryman Daniel Bjarnason, whose new piano concerto will premiere with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Mr. Olafsson next season. Mr. Olafsson has also been playing John Adams's concerto "Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?" in Europe, with stops planned for the United States.
His schedule is increasingly filled with high-profile performances and debuts. (His first collaboration with the New York Philharmonic is another to come next season.) "All of the sudden, everything is happening at the same time," he said. "I got this advice, that it takes 15 years to become famous overnight."
This new album is his first dive into Rameau. He long loved Emil Gilels's recording of "Le Rappel des Oiseaux," but it wasn't until Mr. Olafsson was awaiting the birth of his first child last spring that he read through more.
"I'm scratching my head over why Rameau's music is not played very much," he said. "With the quality and the inventiveness, and the unpredictability of it all - there's never a formulaic element to these pieces."
Those characteristics reminded him of Debussy, a hunch he turned into an album. Here are edited excerpts from a conversation about the recording.
Why these specific juxtapositions?
It took me three or four months of reordering the album. There are so many versions, and I have like a hundred secret Spotify playlists where I'm working with the order. What I'm trying to do is that "impossible conversation" between Debussy and Rameau.
You ended up with quite a lot of tracks.
I want the album to be listened to as a playlist, as an entity - as opposed to people taking a few favorite tracks that they like. Which they will do, and that's fine. But I'm sort of secretly trying to push against that, to push for the album as a playlist, as its own work of art.
I always think endlessly about two things: of course, the ordering of the pieces and all the little connections, but also the tonality of those pieces. So the album is like a composition in 28 tracks.
Why do your albums and your touring programs diverge so much?
I see the album as an independent work of art. It is its own world; it should be like a microcosm. There has been a tendency for a very long time to see the idea of recording as an extension of a performing career: to document what you've been up to onstage, and in a way glorify yourself. If you do that, you miss so many wonderful opportunities to get to know music in a different way.
You listen differently through headphones, so the music works in ways it wouldn't in a hall, and vice versa. The album deserves its own kind of love and focus. There are artists who do this; Cecilia Bartoli is probably the best example. And those are the albums that I'm drawn to.
When I play at Carnegie Hall next season, the first half will be about 60 minutes from the "Debussy Rameau" album. Then the second half is Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," but in the arrangement of Vladimir Horowitz, and also my own. It of course fits so well into this album of pictures in music.
How did you reconcile Rameau's style with the modern piano?
Playing Rameau on the piano requires you to find your own sound. He wrote a treatise about harpsichord playing, but if you were to play him by his own rules on the modern piano, in my opinion it might not work. The timbre, the dynamics, the range and scope of textures - they make it overcrowded. There are a lot of trills on my album, but I had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to make it my own on the piano, for the modern piano to serve the music.
You end the album with Debussy's "Hommage à Rameau." What do you think is the homage there?
It's so difficult to pinpoint where the Rameau element is. There is more Rameau in other pieces of Debussy's than in this one. My recording of it is very nostalgic, reflective, looking back in time for sure. It's like when a child really wants to pay homage to its parent, it does so by being itself and finding its own way. You learn from someone, but you don't imitate them; they become a part of you, but on a much deeper level than you can prove or explain. So Debussy bows his head as a composer to a composer, rather than as a student to a teacher.
Maybe there is no answer to the question. It's not tangible. It's like everything Debussy did: elusive.
Debussy has been with me as far back as I can remember, but my first encounter with the keyboard music of Rameau was Emil Gilels' 1951 recording of "Le rappel des oiseaux", which I came across during my student days in New York. I was immediately fascinated by the music and how well it lends itself to the modern piano, at least in Gilels' noble rendition, with its layered textures and light and shades. But it wasn't until the spring of 2019, as I waited (and waited and waited) for the birth of my first child that I finally had the chance, having cleared some weeks in my concert schedule, to sit down with all of Rameau's published keyboard works and read through every one of them. A world of wonder revealed itself: ingenious works of remarkable diversity, rarely programmed or recorded on the modern instrument.
Following his critically-acclaimed Johann Sebastian Bach album, pianist Vikingur Ólafsson releases a double LP of Bach Reworks, featuring new arrangements of his Bach transcriptions from electronic artists such as Valgeir Sigurðsson and Ben Frost (Prelude BWV 855a), Peter Gregson (Above and Below, B Minor), and Ryuichi Sakamoto (BWV 974 – II Adagio – Rework).
Following his critically acclaimed recording of piano works by Philip Glass, Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson will release his second concept album, Bach, on Deutsche Grammophon on September 7, 2018 (CD released 9/14). The album is available for pre-order everywheretoday.
Renowned for his innovative musical projects, Ólafsson offers listeners a very personal vision of Bach's intricate keyboard music on his new recording – artfully weaving Bach's original works together with transcriptions by Busoni, Kempff, Ziloti, Rachmaninov and Ólafsson himself. Ólafsson will also perform some of the repertoire from the album live at venues including London's LSO St Luke's, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (Denmark), Hamburg's Laeiszhalle, and the Berlin Philharmonie during the 2018-19 season.
For Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson's debut album on Deutsche Grammophon, he is performing selections of Philip Glass's Piano Etudes to be released on January 27, in time for the composer's 80th birthday. Ólafsson's fascination with reinterpreting the Piano Etudesgrew as he toured and performed the works with Glass himself. "On the surface, they seem to be filled with repetitions. But the more one plays and thinks about them, the more their narratives seem to travel along in a spiral," he explains. "My approach to each of the etudes is to enable the listener to create his or her own personal space of reflection."
16 NEW 28 TOTAL
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