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Simon Moullier Trío  Luca Alemanno – Jongkuk Kim Countdown -Fresh Sound New Talent-

Simon Moullier Trío Luca Alemanno – Jongkuk Kim Countdown -Fresh Sound New Talent-

Simon Moullier Trío 
Luca Alemanno, Jongkuk Kim

Countdown -Fresh Sound New Talent-

31

DICIEMBRE, 2021

Simon Moullier, vibráfono/ Luca Alemanno, contrabajo/ Jongkuk Kim, batería (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2021)

Texto: Ricky Lavado


El parisino Simon Moullier, percusionista de formación clásica y vibrafonista consagrado, sorprendió a propios y extraños con la publicación de su disco debut Spirit Song (Outside In Music, 2020). Alumno de Herbie Hancock, apadrinado por Quincy Jones, y colaborador habitual de nombres tan dispares como Bob Sheppard, João Barradas o Gabriele Poso; el veinteañero Moullier ha conseguido en pocos años convertirse en una voz refrescante e innovadora llamada a repensar las posibilidades sonoras y creativas del vibráfono, rompiendo corsés estilísticos y fórmulas ya transitadas hasta la saciedad.

Simon Moullier – Vibraphone Mats Sandahl – Bass Francesco Ciniglio – Drums 06/23/21

Grabado en diferentes sesiones repartidas entre 2017 y 2020 en Los Ángeles y Nueva York, Spirit Song mostraba a un creador inquieto y talentoso sin miedo al riesgo, que dejaba libre un espíritu expansivo, ecléctico y colorido para dar forma a un caleidoscopio fresco y sorprendente en el que el virtuosismo estaba al servicio de la exploración y la búsqueda de nuevos terrenos expresivos.  Moullier abría nuevas sendas de investigación compositiva y armónica con un disco debut en el que el vibráfono se enriquecía con pianos, metales, sintetizadores e instrumentos tradicionales de percusión africana como el balafón, para crear un universo propio de sonoridades e influencias que sonaba tan moderno y arriesgado como respetuoso con la tradición. Esa búsqueda de puentes entre lo viejo y lo nuevo, hilo conductor de la música de Moullier en Spirit Song, es de nuevo el planteamiento inicial con el que el francés presenta ahora su nuevo trabajo Countdown, aunque desde lugares muy diferentes a su disco debut, y con intenciones y resultados muy alejados de este.

Live at Blue Whale (Los Angeles) – 05/16/17 Simon Moullier 

Abrazando el sonido acústico y austero del formato de trío (en esta ocasión Moullier se hace acompañar únicamente de su inseparable base rítmica, formada por el batería Jongkuk Kim y el contrabajista Luca Alemanno), Countdown es un trabajo sobrio, intimista y elegante que, en muchos sentidos, funciona como reverso de Spirit Song. El estreno de Simon Moullier en la prestigiosa serie New Talent del sello Fresh Sound (plataforma de lanzamiento de Brad Mehldau, Seamus Blake, The Bad Plus o Ambrose Akinmusire, entre muchos otros) suena cálido, natural, lleno de oxígeno y luz; la compenetración entre Moullier y su más que eficaz y solvente base rítmica da como resultado un nivel altísimo en la ejecución, y el trío funciona como un mecanismo de precisión en el que técnica y estética se imponen a la emoción o la sorpresa. 

El repertorio elegido para dar forma a Countdown se sumerge en el cancionero clásico tradicional del Jazz para, a modo de homenaje a la tradición, revisitar piezas de pesos pesados como John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Cole Porter o Bill Evans; y ahí es donde entran en juego las expectativas del oyente para valorar de manera justa (signifique eso lo que signifique) un disco que, si bien sirve como tributo a una serie de nombres totémicos grabados a fuego en la historia de la música del siglo pasado, también despierta dudas respecto a la necesidad o el interés que a estas alturas de curso pueda tener una versión de «Goodbye Pork Pie Hat». o la enésima relectura de composiciones de Evans o Coltrane.

Countdown es, en definitiva, un trabajo amable y correcto que destila clase y virtuosismo y que funciona a la perfección como entretenimiento mientras esperamos el siguiente paso en la prometedora carrera de un artista que resulta mucho más interesante cuando mira al futuro que cuando se regodea en el pasado.

Countdown · Simon Moullier · Luca Alemanno · Jongkuk Kim

Escrito por Ricky Lavado

31 de Diciembre de 2021

Fred Hersch Interview  JAZZMADRID21

Fred Hersch Interview JAZZMADRID21

Fred Hersch Interview
JAZZMADRID21

Madrid International Jazz Festival

13

DICIEMBRE, 2021

Entrevista: Manuel Borraz

Fotos: Rafa Martín/CNDM

 

On November second, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the greatest jazz piano players of all time. After his last duo concert in Hamburg with trumpeter Dave Douglas, Fred Hersch came to Madrid, where he played with Avishai Cohen an intimate acoustic performance at Madrid’s National Auditorium, (JAZZMADRID21) playing jazz standards and his own compositions in his unique, buoyant masterful way. 

Well known for his long jazz career, sideman in the past of jazz legends like Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, Bill Frisell… composer and piano bandleader, Fred has contributed to jazz music with an extended creative artistic work with many formations and formats; despite his complicated life situation due to contracting Aids in 1984 and coming back from death after a two months coma in 2008, Hersch is still touring the world, creating amazing music and leaving a legacy that will last long. In the living room of a hotel the morning before the concert, Fred Hersch shared with us some aspects of his approach to music nowadays, how he feels and how he is living the current moment.

 

In & Out JAZZ: Welcome to Madrid, we are delighted to have you here, how are you feeling?

 

I´m good, thanks. I don’t remember now, but I think that the last time I was in Madrid it was with the trio. Something I can tell you is that lately I remember good halls and good pianos around the world, how they work or the difference between them, specific ranges that sound better depending on the model. 

You have had a close relationship with the piano for more than 40 years and you are still touring, most of the time in small formations like this concert with Avishai Cohen or solo performances.  What is your relationship with the piano now?

 

I love it and I feel really loose. Since the pandemic, fortunately all of the concerts where I’ve played have been with musicians that are in the flow of the music, not much is predetermined, with Enrico Rava, Dave Douglas, now with Avishai Cohen, all of them are different but great. I find It hard to play with musicians that are too much in their heads. I always say to people I love my work. I make stuff up and I get paid for it. It’s a great job.

So, playing piano solo concerts was a natural consequence of your life, due to your needs and loves or a conscious decision?

 

In 1977 in New York, I was hanging out a lot at Cork Bradley’s, where all the piano players were hanging out, there were lots of piano players and a bass-piano duos there, with Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Jimmy Roles, Kenny Barron… I remember Rolland Hanna said to me you would be a very good solo player, you should really develop that, and he was a very good solo player, so I did it. In 1980 I gave my first solo concert and my first solo album came out in 2001. I have equal solo albums and trio albums. Playing solo…It’s very challenging, you can´t take a break for the drums solo! (laughs).

You have used many different approaches, textures and creative skills in your performances, one could say that your piano playing has a very sensitive and refined touch, where do you think that this art of playing comes from?

 

I played classical music, not so much in public but for me, but I grew up listening to it, I did not listen so much to popular music. When you listen to a lot of great piano players and piano music you can hear the possibilities of the piano, so I never transcribed solos but I got ideas and I tried to incorporate all these elements, for example the piano can be a drum set, an orchestra, a singer, a horn, it can go opposite directions, multiple directions or play different voices. This is a feature of my playing and I find it interesting to do.…You don´t read into the piano but different piano players have their own particular sound, not the notes, the way they engage with the instrument. 

The pandemic has greatly affected a lot the sector of music and culture, how did you deal with the Pandemic from the beginning until now?

 

I actually did not touch the piano for months during the pandemic, but among many other things, I did meditation, but not Zen. What I do is, I sit everyday although is difficult on the road, for 35 minutes. When I started meditating, I realize that I was meditating my whole life with the piano, so instead of the breath as the encore, it was the sound the anchor, how you actually make the sound and how you put this sound in rhythm, this is active meditation, is not about what you play a hype chord or something fast, is about the feeling. 

Also, during the Pandemic, you did one album, Songs From Home, right?

 

Yes, that album, Songs From Home was just me playing songs I like just to make people happy. So, people could be with me relaxing in my living room¨ while I play songs that I Iike and we all have some nice moment together.

Talking about the Pandemic and the difficult moment of global health, we know you have been dealing with health issues for years, how did your health situation affect your playing?

 

Also, I was very sick I almost died twice and when I came back things changed, so there is kind of a pre period and post period, it was 13 years ago, since then I know my playing has changed but I can’t tell you how. Also, when you get older, your memory is not so great your repertoire gets smaller and now after a year without practicing or playing music in the pandemic one now appreciates music more and I’ve got to the place I always wanted to get to of caring deeply about the music on the one hand but on the other you just don’t give a shit whatever happens. 

 

You said tonight, with Avishai Cohen, the main focus will be on improvisation, but also, you have been using composition for a long time, which area takes precedence in your life?

 

Nine of the last 12 albums were live because I don’t like the studio so much.  Real jazz, my best stuff is live. But as an artist I’m conscious of my career, and I know you cannot just do always the same thing, no one would pay attention. 

You have been teacher many years in institutions and influenced big musicians like Brad Mehldau, Ethan and Sullivan Fortner… what do you think about the institutionalization of jazz?

 

Well, in order to set things to students or make a model for jazz education, It has to be driven by information, not by theory and transcriptions…

In a way I was lucky because I did not have a teacher before I went to New York, and I was an apprentice, that was what everybody did at my time, I played with Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, etc., I composed my own pieces very late… now everybody has the goal of having their own band with their own music and I think is equally creative to play something somebody else wrote.

Not everybody is a great composer, something great for me is something that sticks, like a Sonny Rollins solo that I can almost sing… I would never write it down for example but I sing it. 

Did you enjoy being a sideman, I see you don’t do it anymore?

 

Lately I don´t tour with other people as a sideman, people don’t think of me as a sideman anymore, they think I’m busy or expensive, etc. there was a time that I was a sideman when I was thirty and I learnt but now It is different.

How is jazz education now?

 

Jazz education consists now of students who do it like a duty, they learn and can play but nothing is personal, It is more craft than art, and then there are musicians who have big influences and take it personally, take music from other countries or from hip hop or classical contemporary music wherever, so there is not much swing inside so maybe it’s jazz but not jazz, although they are very accomplished musicians who found a way who speak to their generations and to themselves. When you suggest playing or writing down what Herbie wrote in 1963 It makes people develop a lot of fear but if it’s something new you can´t be afraid of it, you just have to embrace it. Also, now we have a group of people who have doctorates but never tried to make a living out of music, so it’s very academic, and that can make people competent but It does not make them creative artists.

How was it back then for you?

 

When I come to New York I was 22 years old and it was very simple, you had to be able to know how to swing, how to compose, read music, have the tools and be prepared to return phone calls…. now everybody is expected to be bandleader, composer, social media expert, what is expected nowadays is different than before…

What would you say is missing nowadays?

One thing that is missing is listening not only to what happened in the 70s but to the whole history of jazz. Throughout there have been and there are amazing pianists. One has to understand the different trees of jazz piano. Like for example…. Duke Ellington- Monk- Herbie Nichols-Andrew Hill that’s one tree or ….James P. Johnson-Art Tatum-Fats Waller-Oscar Peterson…that’s another.

Unfortunately, people don’t listen to albums anymore.  We read to the note, etc. Our attention has got shorter, due to new technologies and this is affecting the education we are having a lot.  

Is it more skills centered than art expression?

Most of jazz students want to know…. how can I do this? but, you just have to try things and commit mistakes until you learn… It’s not I’m going to do this and this and I’m going to be a good jazz musician, it’s a language and you have to speak it…it takes time.

The history of jazz has a very concrete, determined character, geographic origin… but the different paths that it has taken are creating a very thick and lush forest. Jazz is now being played around the world. Do you see a difference for example between European jazz and jazz in the U.S.A?

 

Before Europeans and Japanese wanted to know the authentic way to play this music and now there are a lot of European players who do their own thing, Enrico Rava, Bollani, John Taylor, Jan Garbarek, etc. You can put a lot of jazz music in ECM category or Avant Garde category, there is some in the middle but most of It is this, but not so much swing anymore, more straight 8ths odd meters, etc.

 

I suppose one learns a lot also playing with great characters of the history like you did in the past. What did you learn from playing with true legends at that time?

 

Playing with Joe Henderson for 10 years I learnt a lot. Sometimes he played great but sometimes not so well, or he started okey and at the end was amazing, so I learnt not to panic with a moment of the concert because is a long trip. The trap I got into once was worrying about what I was not able to play, like young pianists who can do amazing technical things, but they cannot do what I do so you have to know who you are. There is no law saying that you have to do that. So, you just play one phrase then another, then another, loving them, like meditation… every breath is a little different from each other, some days you are focused and some days you are not, I like to think that I normally do good performances but sometimes I’m more inspired, like in Village Vanguard which is my home I feel like I’m in my living room, I don’t have to worry about a thing. 

 

It seems that your meditation practice had affected a lot the way you express and conceive your playing, did it influenced you as well in the way you listen to jazz? 

 

When you listen, you can´t see what people are doing, you can just hear it, in a lot of shows I  shut my eyes even in my own concerts, I don´t look, I pay attention, it gives me a center. I like to take one track that I like, close my eyes and I listen to it 7 times in a row, and each time I listen differently, how do people phrase or deal with harmony, if the drums are ahead of the beat, how they deal with …. etc.

 

What would you qualify good art then?

 

I always say, good playing is like pizza basically you have sauce, cheese, dough and when you are playing solo you have rhythm, sound and the way you connect with what you play, these are the three most important elements. We all have had terrible pizza but when you get good pizza it’s so great, bad pizza can fill you up, but good pizza…what a difference… wow! this was made with care and the best ingredients and skills… 

 

So, do you influence yourselves from other kinds of art?

 

I go to art museums, enjoy visual arts, theatre, other kinds of music, all kind of classical music. I like to explore everything I like to learn stuff from different artists or periods or cultures and connect with them. You can’t only do jazz, maybe when you are young…but at this point I can’t just practice jazz, the closest I get is taking one tune and playing it for 20 minutes. I search for new stuff if it gets boring, I go to a different thing.

 

How free do you think jazz music actually is?

 

When you play a tune is like a picture frame, it gives you a limit, here is the basic form, harmony, melody, or words…to me, the three great revolutions of jazz were Louis Armstrong, invented scat, stepping up front of the band and being a really great soloist, bebop era is the second, this basically said; jazz is not dance music ,is more complex, virtuosic, people were writing their own things…and then Ornette Coleman, who was like, I’m just going to play on the feeling of the tune or I’m not going to play any tune at all. Of course, there are a lot of amazing great musicians but for me this a is where the real innovation lies.

 

How do you see the evolution of the jazz industry? 

 

In the years people were buying albums classical music and jazz rated about 2%. And within jazz there were always singers and guitarists who sold more records than instrumentals, but it has always been a very small percentage of the music industry.

 

In your opinion why is this percentage so small?

 

Both of those genres the more you know the better you feel when you listen and more satisfaction you get, and you can make at least an opinion about it. Pop, big famous artists and these projects are driven by personality and sometimes it is more entertainment than art, and jazz and classical music not to be pretentious but it is another kind of artistry, but it has always been a tiny part of in the industry…some people would say I like smooth jazz which is not actually jazz of big bands or whatever… and that can be great or not. You know there is nothing wrong with entertainment sometimes you just want to have some fun but in terms of artistry not so much, is another layer… just a deeper one.

 

I guess society has also changed a lot. How do you see the acceptance of the LGTBI movement in jazz nowadays?

 

Let’s say you have 5% of population of gays in the world, just a number, and not all of them belong to jazz or are jazz fans. I was one of the first to really come out and I like to think that it gives people confidence to say it too. When you play with other musicians it’s very intimate and you don’t want to bring sex into it. Specially in the US now they are tending towards women instrumentalists and people of color. Honestly, I don’t care what race or sex anybody is when I play with them, I just play with players that are compatible with me, when the music starts and I close my eyes, the music is what matters. I went to a multiracial school with no ethnic majorities so I did not think about it much, and then I played with lots of musicians… A lot of people for example would think why Joe Henderson would have a Jewish white gay piano player in his band…but if you are gay and, in the closet, it is harder to express yourself also in life and in music. Now we have people who don’t know which sex they are, etc., that’s the next frontier.

 

Now before we end, we would love to know if you have any upcoming projects!

 

I’m doing a String quartet plus a trio project. Nowadays this seems fashionable but I just did it in my own way…it will come out in January. It contains 8 movements of a suite and the different movements go together as a unit and are based in my meditation practice. Also, with Enrico Rava we will record an ECM album in a couple of weeks. They have a particular way of working and It would be interesting to make it. After ¨Songs from home¨ I realized that meditation could be an interesting subject, maybe I’ll do something about it or maybe my next project is a live I recorded with Julian Lage, who knows we are just listening to it, you never know… or a jazz trio album, who knows.

 

 

Escrito por Manuel Borraz

13 de Diciembre de 2021

Cécile McLorin Salvant  JAZZMADRID21

Cécile McLorin Salvant JAZZMADRID21

Cécile McLorin Salvant
JAZZMADRID21

Festival Internacional de Jazz de Madrid

10

DICIEMBRE, 2021

Cécile Mclorin Salvant, voz/ Marvin Sewell, guitarra/ Alexa Tarantino, saxo alto y flauta/ Yasushi Nakamura, contrabajo/ Glenn Zaleski, piano/ Keito Ogawa, batería y percusión.

 

 

Texto: Manuel Borraz

Fotos: Elvira Megías/ CNDM

Con solo treinta y dos años, tres Grammys a sus espaldas y primeros premios en competiciones de gran prestigio internacional, como el Thelonious Monk Competition, Cécile Mclorin Salvant actuó el pasado 14 de noviembre en el Festival de Jazz de Madrid donde ofreció un recital a sexteto en el Auditorio Nacional junto a Marvin Sewell (guitarra) Alexa Tarantino (saxo alto y flauta) Yasushi Nakamura (contrabajo) Glenn Zaleski (piano) y Keita Ogawa (batería y percusión).

 

Cécile McLorin Salvant & Sullivan Fortner – Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour (Live)

Cécile Maclorin Salvant representa a día de hoy toda una referencia y un punto de inflexión en la historia del jazz vocal. Su recitación está cargada de un componente hipnótico y emocional, su vasto arsenal de habilidades y destrezas técnicas le brindan una gran libertad de posibilidades y su conexión con la tradición del género enraizan el espectáculo generando un clima de calidez, fluidez y exuberancia. 

Cécile Mclorin ya era carismática y tenía una gran presencia desde sus inicios, tras su aclamado Wommanchild y la continuación de sus proyectos como For One to Love, Dreams and Daggers, etc. Aun así, esta presencia y visión creativa se ha intensificado, Cécile Mclorin es dueña del escenario, su voz es un juguete que moldea y adapta con dominio; se podría decir que su habilidad vocal ha evolucionado para adaptarse a las necesidades de una autora y personalidad musical que trasciende el género para darle un componente identitario de gran valor.

Salvant es un prodigio y no hay duda alguna de ello. Ha encontrado conexiones entre las tradiciones populares de todo el mundo, el teatro, el blues, el vodevil, los musicales, el jazz y la música barroca. Ya estudiaba música barroca y jazz en el Conservatorio de Música Darius Milhaud en Aix-en-Provence, Francia mientras realizaba una licenciatura en derecho francés en la Université Pierre-Mendes France de Grenoble. 

En esta propuesta a sexteto, Cécile Mclorin refleja en su directo su gran pasión narrativa y la diversidad estética de su pasado, con giros inesperados y sorpresas musicales, además de un humor y un saber estar que atrapan y que se transmiten con facilidad a un público que queda anonadado y entregado ante una personalidad con estas características.

LIVE 56 JAZZALDIA: CECILE MCLORIN SALVANT / July 21, 2021

Cécile Mclorin renueva el género en cada paso que acomete, desde un imperativo de creación personal, bajo una mirada única y creativa y una rica combinación de componentes. Sabe elegir muy bien a sus aliados y esto se notó en su concierto en el Auditorio Nacional a través de una propuesta contemporánea, llena de matices. donde el jazz de vanguardia afloró con una identidad clara, mostrando y dejando entrever su próximo proyecto discográfico Ghost Song donde pudimos escuchar canciones como Ghost Song, Thunderclouds, Optimistic Voices, No Love Dying, Obligation y The World is Mean, pertenecientes a su próximo álbum que saldrá a la luz en 2022 bajo el sello discográfico Nonesuch Records.

En el concierto incluyó un repertorio en el que no faltó la variedad estética con temas como Fog (de su álbum For One to Love), The Obsession (de su álbum a dúo The Window) versiones de temas como Pirate Jenny, o los ya clásicos Over the RainbowOptimistic Voice.  Además, sus dos bises Le Temps est Assassin y Alfonsina y el Mar, dejaron al repleto auditorio en un mar de aplausos.

Cécile, nacida y criada en Miami, Florida, de madre francesa y padre haitiano, ya nos ha dejado boquiabiertos en diversas ocasiones y en diversos formatos, desde su propuesta a dúo junto al maravilloso pianista Sullivan Fortner hasta sus programas junto a Aaron Diehl trio, etc. Sin embargo, en esta ocasión parece que Cécile Mclorin ha apostado por una vía más suya si cabe, más contemporánea, propia e innovadora. Ella misma ha afirmado que “No se parece a nada que haya hecho antes, se está acercando a reflejar mi personalidad como curadora ecléctica, ¡Estoy abrazando mi rareza!”

Quedamos agradecidos por poder contar con una talentosa personalidad de esta magnitud en el Festival de Jazz de Madrid y esperamos la salida de su álbum Ghost Song.

Cécile McLorin Salvant au Detroit Jazz Festival

Escrito por Manuel Borraz

10 de Diciembre de 2021

AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE INTERVIEW  JAZZMADRID21

AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE INTERVIEW JAZZMADRID21

Ambrose Akinmusire Interview
JAZZMADRID21

Madrid International Jazz Festival

03

DICIEMBRE, 2021

On the evening of November 21st, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the flagships of the renewal impulse that runs through contemporary black music, the Californian trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, one of the most restless and creative musicians of his generation who is reshaping the jazz tradition.

The interview was done moments before his live quartet, completed with Micah Thomas, Harish Raghavan and Kweku Sumbry, took the stage at the Fernando Fernán Gómez Theater, within the Madrid International Jazz Festival 2021.

 

In & Out JAZZ: Why is Origami Harvest not released on vinyl yet?

 

Ambrose Akinmusire: Oh, I have a very easy answer: because there’s a lyric, just one lyric, that Blue Note didn’t like. And they didn’t want to get slapped by people. That’s the only reason. I won’t say what the lyrics are! It was pushing a little hard… That’s the only reason. 

I have read that your parents were very religious and that your mother played piano in church. In your work there is a spiritual dimension that goes beyond the music, similar to the spiritual dimension of John Coltrane. In your opinion, what personal and musical elements must coexist to reach that spirituality?

For me it has to be a willness to wrestle with the ego and to get rid of the self. So the music can come inside you and come out as opposed to everything being produced from your head. So all of the practices that I do is to make sure that the music can just come out as it wants. So I practice technical things on my trumpet so the music doesn’t run against any technical limitations, and I do practice on myself and my ego so that when the music comes inside of me I don’t judge it. Si I think that is maybe the first thing that must happen or at least is the thing that I’m focusing the most on. Other things… I guess it’s just openness. Even as a jazz musician or a creative musician checking out other music and checking out other opinions, having conversations with people. And also… being willing to make mistakes and to fuck up and say “I’m sorry”. Even in life you can just… even as a creative person I try just do what I gotta do and if I fuck it up say: “Sorry, my intentions weren’t bad”. That’s also part of life so… I think those three things are the things I am focused on for a long time. 

You seem incredibly free in everything you do. What does the concept of freedom mean for you and for your music?  

No one has ever asked me that…  Free… When I think of freedom I think of dancing within a frame because if there’s no frame, then it is chaos. If there’s no rules, there’s no frame, then it’s chaos. So for me it is finding ways to be creative with all the rules. Musically that’s what freedom means for me. But if we talk about free jazz and the free movement, I think that free jazz is what comes after the blues, you know. It’s like the next sound of the blues, where the blues is a little bit more optimistic, the free jazz and things associated with that are just expressing the pain in a very visible way. And freedom on my instrument just means being able to play what music says to play. 

So, in that way, it means a lot of practice…

It means too much practice. I practice a lot, yes. I practice to be free. I even practice if I play an ugly sound… The freedom in terms of technique is to not be there. I practice so I can be on stage and just play what it comes through. I know that I’m not the one making the music. That also is a form of freedom. I don’t have the pressure to come up with all this amazing stuff because I really believe that it’s already there. I just have to submit to it. If I can do that it just comes out.

You are the medium.

Exactly. And that’s free. I don’t have to create it, I just have to stand there. I have done all the work before that.

You are always searching for new ways of expression and you’ve displayed a huge range of sounds and styles throughout your career. Does your work start from improvisation?

When I was younger I could write music very easily and then I stopped for many years, I stopped writing music. And then I realized that I have to find ways of walking to the muse and sometimes that’s writing the story or playing games with numbers, but that’s just to get me to the point where I’m interacting with the muse, and often all that stuff goes out of the window when I’m there. So the process of getting there is always changing but the getting there is where the creativity comes out.

Do you have any method to identify when you are on the right path?

Oh, no. When you are in the flow, you’re in the flow, you know? It’s like in basketball: after shooting you know if you are in the flow. It’s like you enter that magic zone and you just know. It’s just a feeling of something else taking over and you really have to fight to not come up with that. Things that take you out of there are judgement and ego. So when you are there… I feel it. And I rush to put it on a paper before my ego says it sucks or it’s amazing.

Do you record yourself?

Yes.

Every time?

Not every time, but a lot. 

Do you come back to those recordings?

No, not really. Sometimes, if I have a big project, I’d listen to the stuff and try to see if I heard something. 

What is your experience with Fresh Sound Records?

I did one record with Fresh Sound, the first one, and my friend Walter Smith did one or two that I did. The experience was great. Jordi was very supportive to a lot of musicians that nobody knew who we were. I didn’t meet him until years later. He’d always respond to the emails and send the money… he was cool. He let us do whatever we wanted to do. Furthermore, he didn’t say: “I want a jazz record”. My first record has an opera singer, it has all this crazy stuff, you know… I really have a lot of love for Jordi and what he’s done for not only me but for my generation and the generation before us, just giving us a start and giving us experience in recording and creating a CD. I think that without Fresh Sound a lot of people wouldn’t have careers and maybe a whole generation wouldn’t had been heard. 

You have managed to innovate from a deep knowledge of traditional music but what are your references or pillars in music?

Joni Mitchell, number one, Björk, John Coltrane, Clifford Brown, Bud Powell and Benny Carter. Those would be my strong people. Björk is the last musician that I really want to play with. I’ve played with Jonny, I’ve played with Herbie (Hancock), Wayne (Shorter), Kendrick Lamar… all those people I’ve played with but not with Börjk. If I go to one of her concerts I would sit in the front row… I can’t wait. I know it’s written. I really like people that you hear and think “Where does this come from?”. You can hear references but they just drop it down so complete, out of nowhere.

That’s exactly what you’ve done.

Oh, no! (Laughs). Thank you…

What are the most important learnings you got as a musician, since your beginnings with Steve Coleman and the Five Elements until today?

Oh, very easy. The most important thing I’ve learned is simple: try to be a good human. Just try to be a great human being. Be responsible for how you make people feel. That’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned. Because I’ve got to meet and play with all my heroes and that’s the one thing they all have. Herbie, Wayne, Ron Carter… all these people. They all feel the same, they are generous, open and warm. So that’s been the biggest lesson so far in my career.

You are an artist who has taken jazz to another level. Was this a premeditated idea and where does your creative force lie?

Was it premeditated? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I believe in innovation; a lot of people don’t and more specifically I believe in innovation being a part of the Black tradition. So yes, it was premeditated. But, did I sit down and say: “I want to come up with something new”? No. Do I think that I came up with something new? Not really. But I understand why people say that. 

‘Origami Harvest’ is a jazz-hip hop album, but ‘On The Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment’ is more of a blues album, like it is connected with your first album. How do you feel about this?

It’s connected through very specific comparison: it’s me knowing who I am in the last album and who I was in the first album. I was there standing with my eyes closed in a suit, feeling the pressure and all this, and in this last one it’s me standing near in a hoodie with my locks, and the first one had all these colors coming at me while the last one is just a stark black and white with no design… Also musically: the first album starts with a trumpet intro and the last album starts with a trumpet intro, so there are some things there that in a way make me think as if the last album is the first album grown up. And that’s the way I feel about it. It feels like the right time to complete the circle. And also, I’m a little less… I don’t want to say “optimistic” but I’m much more connected with reality now than then. I feel like now I’m super straight in everything like in aesthetics, my personality, I don’t give a fuck what people think about me and all this other stuff, and I don’t feel the pressure in anything… In the first album I thought I was walking into something so grand and now I feel like at any moment I can walk away from this and be fine. So that’s another thing about these two albums and how they are linked to each other.

So now that the circle seems closed, what is your next project?

To start multiple circles, not just one anymore, and have them developing all over the place in coexistence.

As a modern jazz reference, what kind of advice would you give to new generations of jazz musicians? 

Just work hard and say “Fuck it!”. Not often… (laughs) but don’t be afraid to do that. And be a good guy. Also for me, the inspiration and the reason I do this is not about me for a long time. I do this because now there’s two or three generations underneath me that look up to me, so I know that I’m the inspirations for thousands and thousands of people around the world like some of my heroes, like the way Roy Hargrove was for us or Winton (Marsalis) or Herbie (Hancock), I’m that for a lot of people. So that’s been clear for me for a while. But before, yeah… I didn’t even have the luxury of thinking about inspiration. I was just working my ass off. I often tell my students that it is a luxury not to be inspired. Being an African-American and having such a culture, you know, people were slaves for three hundred years and stuff… they weren’t inspired to pick cotton, but they had to do it. So I imagine that playing the trumpet or creating music is easy, you know? I also grew up with my Mum and saw here working 9 to 5, five days a week and sometimes working overtime on a weekend doing something she didn’t like doing… so that’s inspiring for me. That’s always been there since I was a kid. So I personally never had deep vaults of being uninspired. Sure there are times where I don’t feel like practicing, like some times you go to bed and don’t want to brush your teeth, but you have to do it. So that’s the way I see it.

What does music mean to you?

It’s humans trying to sonicly represent love and nature. I think that’s what it is for me.

03 de Diciembre de 2021

Noah Preminger & Kim Cass  _Thunda_ Dry Bridge Records

Noah Preminger & Kim Cass _Thunda_ Dry Bridge Records

Noah Preminger & Kim Cass

_Thunda_ Dry Bridge Records

19

NOVIEMBRE, 2021

Noah Preminger, saxophonist / Kim Cass, bass. 

2021, Dry Bridge Records

 

Texto: Pepo Márquez 

Fotos: Antonio Porcar Cano 

Duos are always something else. We have plenty of examples, not only in Jazz, but in other styles. Duos’ records are built not only with what there is, but also with what is not there or what could have been. They are both reality and illusion, certainty and desire, possibilities and limitations. And that’s why the listener plays a key role in duos’ records: because there’s a lot of space for interpretation. It’s not only what you listen to, but also how you fill that space. In that sense, duos’ albums can be a little tiring for the listener but Thunda is not the case. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: Thunda is a journey of speed, melody, textures and improvisation, with moments where Preminger and Cass reach excellence.

Chron · Noah Preminger · Kim Cass

Thundah (Dry Bridge Records is the result of months of communication between the two long time friends and fellow musicians. When the COVID-19 pandemic led to cancellation of every tour and every recording plan for all, a lot of artists turned to technology as a safe outlet for creating and recording music. With empty schedules ahead, creative minds do what they know best and between July 11th and December 20th of 2020, saxophonist and bass player exchanged hours of improvised material with the intention of shaping it into something they can call an album. They both met in 2004 in their college days but didn’t start working together until Cass moved to New York City. Since then, the two have worked together in countless performances and collaborations, including more than half a dozen of Preminger’s records. Thunda is proof of how much they know each other.

Despite the exceptional conditions (Preminger’s said in an interview: “This is the first recording I’ve made remotely and entirely at home and it’s also the first time I play and layer multiple instruments, all entirely improvised”), the invisible connection between Noah and Kim travels through wireless impulses and encoded ones and zeros to flourish as something beautifully honest, relevant and revealing.

In 31 minutes, Preminger and Cass display all the virtues they are known for in the contemporary jazz scene: solid technique, furious velocity, sixth sense for melody and, most of all, vision. One couldn’t imagine the editing work this album needed, especially when there’s no physical connection between the musicians. The high speed unison in Tradr Hoez challenges the listener and draws a smile in the face: if they can do that on their own, what could they do together? That idea also leads to a bigger one: the first reason for music to exist is to make us less alone. Thunda was the tool these two brilliant musicians had to feel less alone, to be there for each other in some way. And it sounds exactly like that.

As stated, each track begins with an improvised idea. “We’re really pushing each other to come up with new, challenging ways to elevate the music to different places: harmonically, rhythmically, texturally and most importantly, compositionally”, said Preminger. “Part of what makes creating the music for Thunda so thrilling and adventurous is that there are no predetermined forms, improvisational sections, rhythmic concepts or sets of chord changes. Each song is constructed linearly while taking into account the mood and textures until we’ve decided that it’s done”.

On many more records than desirable, this freedom ends up in boredom: the musicians only play for their own pleasure, destroying the inner dialogue or, even worse, turning their backs to the audience. When that happens, there’s no difference between virtuosity and masturbation. But in jazz, like in sex, everybody loves to be a part of the action. Thankfully, it’s not the case of Thunda. Well done, sirs.

Escrito por Pepo Márquez

19 de Noviembre de 2021

Francisco Mela feat. Matthew Shipp & William Parker – Music Frees Our Souls Vol.1- 577 Records

Francisco Mela feat. Matthew Shipp & William Parker – Music Frees Our Souls Vol.1- 577 Records

Francisco Mela feat:
Matthew Shipp & William Parker

-Music Frees Our Souls Vol.1- 577 Records

31

OCTUBRE, 2021

-Music Frees Our Souls Vol.1 – (577 Records, 2021) Francisco Mela, drums/ Matthew Shipp, piano/ William Parker, bass 

 

 

Texto: Pepo Márquez

Fotos: Kenneth Jimenez

Drummer Francisco Mela (Cuba, 1968) is living the last few months at full speed: of the eight albums as a leader that make up his discography since he debuted with Melao in 2006 (released by the Barcelona label Ayva Música), the last two have seen the light in 2021…

 

 

Francisco Mela ft. William Parker, Matthew Shipp, for McCoy Tyner ‘Music Frees Our Souls, Vol. 1’

…It’s the first time this has happened and it is most likely due to the new momentum his career has taken since he signed for 577 Records just a year ago. The New York imprint was responsible for launching MPT: Francisco Mela Trío, Vol. 1 at the beginning of the year, and on that occasion the trio was completed by the Cuban Hery Paz on tenor saxophone and the guitar of the Venezuelan Juanma Trujillo, also present in this new recording, this time as an assistant engineer. The change from that album to this Music Frees Our Soul Vol. 1 is complete and is marked not only by the alternance of musicians and instruments, but also by the approach: before, songs were written by one or the other, whereas here is a team dedicated to improvisation, to a common effort. An improvisation that does not sound like another day in the studio, but rather conveys an overwhelming sensitivity and inspiration that, unlike too many improvisation records, welcomes the listener instead of pushing them away. And that is exactly where the immense value of this work lies.

Matthew Shipp and William Parker have been among the elite of free jazz and avant-garde music for years, together and separately. Since they met for the first time on Points (Silkheart, 1992), the album that represented Shipp’s second experience as a leader (the quartet was completed by Rob Brown on alto sax and Whit Dickey on drums), the pianist and double bass player haven’t stop to appear together on albums and performances all over the world. The absolute instrumental mastery of Shipp and Parker with their instruments, and the connection proven over almost thirty years of partnership, distances this recording from any frivolity and praises even further the work of Francisco Mela, a heterodox drummer in the forms, a player with his own style and someone who’s far from any gratuitous exhibitionisms. He is the engine of this monumental project: Music Frees Our Soul Vol. 1 is just the first installment of his particular tribute to the historic pianist McCoy Tyner (died in March 2020), who signed him to his trio in 2009 after seeing him play with Joe Lovano’s quintet and who became his mentor in the last years of his life. It was after a concert at the Blue Note in New York City where Tyner said, pointing to Cecil Taylor, who was coming out to greet him in the dressing room: “I wish I were as free as Cecil. We make music to free our souls”. This mysterious statement was forever recorded in Mela’s memory. If all goes according to plan, the trilogy will be completed at the end of this year with the edition of volumes 2 and 3, for which the Cuban has already called upon the pianists Cooper-Moore and Leo Genovese, two other avant-garde jazz referents.

Matthew Shipp – solo piano – Zurcher Gallery, NYC – September 13 2018

Superstitious or not, the session took place on Friday, November 13, 2020, at the Douglass Recording Studios in Brooklyn, New York, where The Neils Cline 4, Julian Lage or Esperanza Spalding have also worked. With a simple but determined “OK guys, you ready? Rolling!» with an undoubted Latin accent, Light of Mind begins, the first of the three compositions that make up Music Frees Our Soul Vol. 1 that lasts up to twenty minutes in length and where the first breath (which is not such either) reaches from minute fifteen. Until that moment, the trio sped down the slope of the free, with Matthew Shipp as the maximum melodic reference and with Mela and Parker leaving a good dust cloud behind them. The case of the double bass player is amazing: at almost 70 years old, he plays better and faster than ever without ever losing his composure or focus. Dark Light is a simple intermission with a melodic ending that doesn’t last four minutes. A well-deserved rest before returning to the race with the seventeen-minute-odd Infinite Consciousness that closes the album. A piece with four very different parts where it seems that Shipp’s right hand approaches a Latin melody just before his left hand turns the piano into a storm.

Music Frees Our Soul Vol. 1 is available in a limited edition of 100 copies on blue vinyl, black vinyl, CD, and digital.

FRANCISCO MELA FT. WILLIAM PARKER AND MATTHEW SHIPP (LIMITED EDITION BLUE VINYL)

Escrito por Pepo Márquez

31 de Octubre de 2021

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