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February 28 , 2014

Reviews of the week

Spanish and German observers are impressed by Vijay Iyer’s ECM debut Mutations

Vijay Iyer publica ‚Mutations’, su espectacular debut en el sello ECM. El pianista norteamericano da unpaso de gigante en el processo de renovación de su instrumento en el jazz. [...] Vienen a colación estos detalles porque Vijay Iyer publica en estos días un disco que, con el título ‘Mutations’, representa no solo su debut en la fonográfica ECM; también es el estreno de un Iyer diferente, cuya abductora música seduce por igual a los amantes de los vértices impares de la música contemporánea y a los rastreadores de nuevos rumbos para el jazz de avanzada. [...] Esta ampliación de contenidos, y continentes, ya ha puesto en alerta a las mentes más privilegiadas de la crítica de jazz en el Reino Unido, que -como las de otros lugares- son conscientes de que en ‘Mutations’ se ha gestado algo muy serio y completamente diferente a la música acometida por Vijay Iyer hasta el momento para las firmas ACT y Pi. Esta obra fija, de hecho, como ninguna otra anterior, los interrogantes y las respuestas de un músico asomado a la vanguardia desde una modernidad aprendida de maestros tan dispares como Cecil Taylor oAndrew Hill, pero también de Ellington y Thelonious Monk. Un acierto el cambio de compañía.
(Vijay Iyer’s new release ‘Mutations’ – a spectacular debut on the ECM label. The American pianist makes a giant step forward in the renovation process of his instrument within Jazz. [...] It is also the premiere of a different Iyer, whose enticing music seduces both lovers of contemporary music as well as the followers and trackers of advanced and pioneering jazz . [...] This widening of views has already raised the attention of some of the most revered Jazz critics in the UK who are aware that in ‘Mutations’ something very serious has been gestated, completely different to what Vijay has accomplished to date for lanels like ACT or Pi Recordings, This work settles, like no other until now, the questions and answers of a musician overlooking the vanguard from a modernitiy learned from such different masters like Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, but Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Changing labels has been a real success.)
Luis Martin, ABC

'Mutations' nennt der indoamerikanische Musiker Vijay Iyer einen Kompositionszyklus, den er für Streichquartett, Elektronik und einen improvisierenden Pianisten schrieb. Eine fremdartige Schönheit und gleichzeitig eine tiefe Verwurzelung in der Jazzavantgarde der letzten Jahrhunderthälfte zeigt sich in den vielen Facetten des ambitionierten Werkes, das der New Yorker im September 2013 mit dem Produzenten Manfred Eicher aufnahm.
Karl Lippegaus, Deutschlandfunk

Momo Kodama’s debut recording for ECM La Vallée des Cloches enchants a reviewer from the American West Coast

French music of the 20th century can be traced back to Debussy - except for the strain that stems from Ravel. Pianist Momo Kodama's entrancing new disc offers a glimpse of that second lineage, in performances that boast an apt combination of clarity and insinuation. She begins with Ravel's ‘Miroirs’, that fecund repository of Impressionist ideas and techniques, and then traces its influence through two later works, the brief and wonderfully evocative ‘Rain Tree Sketch’ by Toru Takemitsu (a French composer in all but actual biography) and Olivier Messiaen's ‘La fauvette des jardins.’ The Messiaen, a rarely performed late work infused (naturally) with bird calls, is a revelatory demonstration of how the distinctive figurations and voicings of Ravel's piano writing seep through nearly a century's worth of elaboration to surface in a difference harmonic and formal context. But the disc is worth hearing even if only for Kodama's crisp, pointed and sensuous playing of ‘Miroirs,’ a performance both elegant and elusive.
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

US-reactions to Eleni Karaindrou’s Medea

Here, for a prodution of Giorgios Cheimonas’ modern greek adaption of Euripides’ ‘Medea’ is her gorgeously ritualistic musical journey through ‘Euripides’ bleak world of poetry’ [...] Karaindrou freely admits that its brooding, droning intensity wouldn’t necessarily cohere as drama on disc without producer Eicher reshaping it to do so. The result is quite beautiful and not much like any other music you name.
J.S., Buffalo News

This is music created for the Medea production put on by stage director Antonis Antypas, as performed at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. The Medea enacted there is Giorgos Cheimonas' adaptation from the original Euripides version of the play. Musically it has a timeless, exotic quality. Eleni Karaindrou utilizes a 15-member chorus; Eleni herself effectively contributes a solo part. Plus there is an 8-member chamber group with strong Greek and Eastern Mediterranean associations. The ensemble consists of three clarinets, ney, a player of the Constantinople lute (sounding much like an oud) and lyra, then cello, the santour, and the bendir.With these means Ms. Karaindrou creates a music of great evocative beauty, with its ancient scales and traditional instruments providing sound color and spatial punctuation, the vocals from chorus and soloists extending the sound and all-in-all creating a through-composed modern ambient pomo sort of work that is very identifiably Karaindrou-esque. Even in the purely instrumental passages the reflective, haunting melodiousness of Karaindrou comes through. It sounds less like ‘authentic’ ancient Greek-Eastern Mediterranean music as the idea of that as filtered by an ‘authentic’ Eleni Karaindrou sensibility. And it is one of her very strongest works at that. The performances are excellent, the sound all you'd expect from ECM
Grego Applegate, Gapplegate Music Review

All About Jazz reviews the historical albums Miroslav Vitous Group and Five Years Later by Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie, now available as CD and as high resolution download, cut from the original analogue master

In exploring a multiplicity of reference points, from the neo-classical leanings of the closing ‘Eagle,’ where Vitous' warm arco blends with Surman's gently searching bass clarinet, to the dark-hued cinematics of "Sleeping Beauty" and swinging but temporally shifting ‘Gears,’ where Vitous delivers one of his most impressive pizzicato solos of the set, Miroslav Vitous Group is unequivocally a jazz record, but one whose multiplicity of stylistic touchstones also makes it a long overdue release that is, indeed, informed by all kinds of music. And it's good, too—exceptionally good, in fact.

Like its predecessor, Five Years Later is split between individual compositions and collective improvisation, though this time a full 23 minutes of the album's 50-minute run time is devoted to spontaneous creation. The composed music is wonderful, with Towner's knotty but intrinsically lyrical ‘The Juggler's Etude’ one of his most memorable compositions to this day and ‘Caminata’ a miniature of singular melancholic beauty. The contrasting light and dark of Abercrombie's ‘Child's Play’ and more dramatic ebb and flow of ‘Isla’ are further evidence of the guitarist's compositional evolution, in just a few short years. But it's the free improvisations that reveal just how much Towner and Abercrombie's shared language and innate chemistry had evolved—the result of growth in their own separate projects and with more time spent on the road together. [...]some of the finest, most intuitive and intimately inspired dual-guitar music in the history of jazz.
John Kelman, All About Jazz