15.12.2023 | Reviews of the week

Reviews of the week

The piano solo album Call On The Old Wise by Nitai Hershkovits is hailed by UK, German and Italian media

 

‘Call on the Old Wise’ may be his first solo recording for ECM, but Hershkovits has impressed hugely with his contributions to Oded Tzur’s wonderful albums ‘Here Be Dragons’, and more recently the incredible ‘Isabela’, one of my picks of the year for 2022. His style and approach is often subtle, yet there is a sense of spiritual energy and timelessness to his playing that I find extremely engaging. […] The music is sublime, with each and every track offering a glimpse of something new and inventive. Some of these glimpses are fleeting, with some being particularly prescient, but the way Hershkovits moves from one idea to another reflects in the nature of the music itself. Each piece is like a beautiful moment in time, never to be repeated, yet always to be savoured. […] ‘Call on the Old Wise’ is a testimony to Nitai Hershkovits’ unique inventiveness as well as being a worthy addition to ECM’s celebrated line of solo piano recordings

Mike Gates, UK Vibe

 

Mit dem zweiten Solowerk ‘Call On The Old Wise’ evoziert er in Echtzeit komponierend Ravel, Debussy, Skriabin, Schubert. Die ganze reiche Palette an Farben ist da. ‘Dream Your Dreams’ hätte das Zeug zu einer Nationalhymne. Ellingtons ‘Single Petal Of A Rose’ ist von geradezu überirdischer Schönheit. Dann dieser Blues – und Schluss. Wow!

Karl Lippegaus, Fono Forum

 

Trasparenza e liquidità sono caratteristiche preponderanti di questo album per piano solo. Il musicista israeliano lavora con un tocco pianistico raffinato, facendo dell’improvvisazione tonale quasi un manifesto strutturale, muovendosi soprattutto tra le ombre rimarchevoli di Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninov, Scriabin. […] – ma racconta la misterica fragranza di un Altrove meditato, compenetrato nel sentimento puro e lirico dell’Autore dai contorni spontaneamente impressionisti. Hershkovits non si cala tanto nel Profondo ma danza elegantemente sulla superficie, riuscendo a mantenere una certa flessibilità espressiva e dando uno sguardo interessato ma fuggevole a ciò che scorre sotto il pelo dell’acqua. Le sue forme sonore, infatti, appaiono talora melodicamente essenziali, sconfinando in toni velatamente fiabeschi ma altre volte sembrano maggiormente dirette alla ricerca di una sostanzialità oltre l’immediato livello percepibile della realtà. E in effetti, al di là del velo dell’apparenza, di fronte a Hershkovits sembrano spalancarsi visioni contemporanee di luoghi e tempi diversi, in un continuo pendolarismo tra vecchio e nuovo, tra dentro e fuori, notte e giorno. […] I brani che riempiono l’album, come sopra detto, sono diciotto, alcuni piuttosto brevi tanto da sembrare note appuntate in cerca di futuro sviluppo, ma in realtà l’ascolto globale di tutti i brani può regalare l’impressione di una certa omogeneità e unità d’intenti, quasi come se l’idea basilare fosse quella di una sola, lunga improvvisazione tematica, un unico boquet di fiori dai diversi profumi.

Riccardo Talamazzi, Offtopic Magazine

A French reaction to to the album Zartir by Levon Eskenian and the Gurdjieff Ensemble

 

L’Ensemble Gurdjieff a emprunté son nom à l’ésotérique Georges Gurdjieff, philosophe et compositeur emblématique de la musique arménienne (…). Un siècle plus tard, l’album ‘Zartir’ exauce sa prière dans la ferveur et le mystère.  Portés par des voix profondes, par les volutes émouvantes, ces hymnes, rituels funéraires et autres danses sacrées retrouvent leur authenticité.

Anne Berthod, Telerama

The album Uncle John’s Band by the John Scofield Trio enchants US, German and Swiss reviewers

 

On John Scofield’s ECM double album ‘Uncle John’s Band’, the guitarist displays vibrancy, variety and versatility. Across nearly two hours and 14 tunes, Scofield and his trio—drummer Bill Stewart and double bassist Vicente Archer—showcase seven Scofield originals and seven covers: three from Bob Dylan, Neil Young and the Grateful Dead; two jazz pieces from Bud Powell and Miles Davis; and two standards. ‘Uncle John’s Band’ is Scofield’s third ECM release and the carefully counterpoised and engineered record illustrates the label’s mainstay of finely-recorded material and balanced flow.

Doug Simpson, Audiophile Audition

 

So souverän wie entspannt lässt Scofield seine typischen, gelegentlich von akkordischen Einschüben aufgebrochenen Single-Note-Linien perlen, von Bassist Vicente Archer und vor allem dem famosen Schlagzeuger Bill Stewart kongenial ergänzt. Gelegentlich ist durchhörbar, dass Scofield den Jazz über Blues und Rock entdeckt hat, aber der spielerische Flow seiner Improvisationen setzt sich ohnehin über Stilgrenzen hinweg. Ein extrem cooles, in seiner Mischung aus swingender Energie, balladesker Tiefe und bisweilen einer unterschwelligen Prise Funkykiness abwechslungsreiches, rundum überzeugendes Gitarrenalbum.

Reinhold Unger, Münchner Merkur

 

Les années passent mais le toucher de John Scofield se bonifie encore – si c’est possible! – en fluidité, en justesse du feeling. […] Ce ‘Uncle John’s Band’ restera comme l’un de nos albums de l’année. Avec le batteur Bill Stewart et le bassiste Vicente Archer, le vétéran de Miles Davis trouve des chemins rock et folk pour livrer un jazz organique et captivant qui reprend avec autant de bonheur Dylan ( ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’), Neil Young ou Bernstein, tout en livrant des compositions taillées dans une spontanéité réjouissante. Magnifique!

Boris Senff, 24 Heures

Frozen Silence by Maciej Obara with Dominik Wania, Ole Morten Vågan and Gard Nilssen is reviewed in an Austrian music magazine

 

Maciej Obara ist berühmt für seine sehnsuchtsvollen und schwermütigen Saxophonsoli, die auf dem Gros der CD zu hören sind (‘Dry Mountains’,’Twilight’, ‘Flying Pixies’). Aus der Art schlagend sind energischere, dezent fröhliche Tunes, die ebenfalls von dem Quartett meisterlich interpretiert werden (‘Frozen Silence’,’Rainbow Leaves’, ‘Waves of Glyma’). Hört man diesen lyrischen, emphatischen und seelenvollen Sound, schiebt sich die hektisch laute Welt in den Hintergrund.

Ernst Weiss, Concerto

A UK reviewer on the album The Living Mountain with music by Thomas Larcher

 

The first rule of recording used to be: never bring out an unknown work unless it is performed by a world-famous artist. Anything less would be commercial suicide. I cannot remember any major company ever breaking this rule. The only transgressors were fringe labels with zero overheads who, like Indian gurus, cultivated a tribe of true believers who bought into whatever they did. The supreme Maharishi of this peripheral cult was ECM’s Manfred Eicher, and he is still going strong in Munich after 54 years of doing his own thing — backing obscure scores from the medievalist Morales to Meredith Monk with artists as little-known as the stuff they played. Eicher’s latest release is another punt into the unknown. The composer Thomas Larcher is an Austrian of esoteric tendencies. Mystical to a fault, his latest collection consists of two solo vocal settings of enigmatic English texts by Nan Shepherd and W. G. Sebald, framing a cello concerto for chamber orchestra with piano obbligato. […] Eicher being Eicher, you start out listening with amused tolerance and wind up transfixed by music of hypnotic power, driving towards an inescapable destiny. The cover image tilts the imagination in an ecological direction, but the orchestral writing of the title track draws little from mother nature. It tinkles and tintinnabulates, using an accordion for colour and a soprano (Sarah Aristidou) who soars but seldom swoops. […] The last rule of a dying record industry is: there are no rules.

Norman Lebrecht, La Scena Musicale

A US reviewer on the album Reminiscentiae with music by Veljo Tormis

 

Much of his music is choral. The title ‘Reminiscentiae’ started out in that form, but the orchestral arrangement here is delightful. It offers a kind of ‘Estonian Four Seasons,’ made up of fragmentary reminiscences of weather scenes, each about a minute long (sample the uncanny ‘Northern Lights’ movement from the Winter Patterns section). […] All the pieces relate to Tormis’ childhood reminiscences in some way, but the theme is treated in a variety of ways; sample the closing ‘Helletused’ (‘Herding Calls’), which hardly resembles anything else out there. […] The performances by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra under their longtime conductor, Tõnu Kaljuste, are ideal, and the production is by ECM founder Manfred Eicher himself. A wonderful collection of music by a composer worth knowing better.

James Manheim, All Music

A Swiss daily paper on the vinyl re-issue of Keith Jarrett’s legendary Solo Concerts Bremen / Lausanne within the Luminessence series

 

Deux concerts fascinants donnés parle jazzman au firmament de son incroyable odyssée […] Un album qui sonne comme un retour aux sources pour ravir nos oreilles et notre esprit.

Stéphane Gobbo, Le Temps

Current Concerts
& Events

Dominic Miller is playing almost 50 concerts across the globe in the cominig months

John Scofield and his trio are performing in the US and Asia in April and June. Throughout the year, more solo and quartet concerts are scheduled.

Fred Hersch is touring in support of his piano solo album 'Silent, Listening'