21.06.2024 | Reviews of the week

Reviews of the week

International media welcome the new live recording September Night by the Tomasz Stanko Quartet


Stanko is in fine form, his brooding film-noir tone the color of the slate-blue album cover. He’s often muted without a mute, which makes his occasional squalls especially startling. There’s a sense of liberation to his tremulous trills, staccato stabs and smeary slides up and down the scale that fill in the gaps between notes. […] The seven compositions, all written by Stanko, allow the players to exercise patience as they go long stretches without a chord change or steady pulse. There’s neither at the outset of the appropriately titled ‘Elegant Piece,’ where Stanko’s playing initially evokes a damp, dark alley. A majestic melody eventually emerges, and he then unleashes a pair of primal roars. […] hushed, elongated phrases by Stanko elevate the beautiful ‘Song for Sarah.’ Wasilewski delivers a long solo filled with yearning, before Stanko returns with an eloquent summary. His final note is a long one; the sound of his horn lingers.

Steve Winn, AP News


Der 2018 verstorbene Trompeter spielte damals mit jungen polnischen Musikern, deren Mentor er war. Insbesondere das Spiel des Pianisten Marcin Wasilewski überzeugt durch großen Farbenreichtum. Das Livealbum ‘September Night’ zeigt noch einmal, warum Tomasz Stanko zu den Größen des europäischen Jazz zählt. Ein besonderer Geschichtenerzähler, in dessen Trompetenton die Traditionen seiner polnischen Heimat – von Chopin bis Komeda –  auf die des amerikanischen Jazz treffen.

Jan Tengeler, Deutschlandfunk Kultur


Jetzt ist die Aufzeichnung eines Konzerts erschienen, das Stanko 2004 mit seinem jungen polnischen Trio in München gab: voller melancholischer Verschattungen, aber mit enormer Energie vor allem im Rapport zwischen Stanko und der Rhythmusguppe, zumal dem Pianisten Marcin Wasilewski, aber auch Slawomir Kurkiewicz am Bass und Michal Miskiewicz am Schlagzeug – eine Truppe, die Stanko seit ihren Teenagerjahren förderte. ‘September Night’, in einer Reihe mit den schönsten Alben des Trompeters mit diesem Trio (‘Soul of Things’, ‘Suspended Night’, ‘Lontano’), ist vor 20 Jahren entstanden und von einer zeitlosen Präsenz. Melancholie, aber mit scharfen Rändern. Mit viel Biss. Viel Glanz, viel Tiefe. Aber auch mit beträchtlichem Witz in der fast telepathischen Kommunikation zwischen dem expressiven, aber auch immer rücksichtsvoll sparsamen Meister und seinen Partnern.

Peter Rüedi, Weltwoche


Stanko spins out a sparkling web of original compositions. The trumpeter in some ways epitomized the ECM sound, with atmospheric, melodic tunes that defined the notion of chamber jazz, and many of those can be found here – cf. gorgeous takes on ‘Song For Sarah,’ ‘Kaetano,’ and an absolutely stunning ‘Elegant Piece.’ But this is no classical recital, so the live spirit comes through when the quartet kicks up the energy level a notch or three; ‘Euforila’ and ‘Celina’ bring the fire, particularly with Wasilewski’s finger-busting solos. The leader himself rips on the final number ‘Theatrical,’ as a reminder that being a pioneer in chamber jazz doesn’t mean a soft touch. For the Stanko Quartet, this ‘September Night’ was clearly a good one.

Michael Toland, The Big Takeover


‘September Night’ is a previously unreleased live album that catches these four wonderful musicians at one of their peaks, with a true sense of freedom emanating gloriously from this fabulous quartet. This 2004 Munich show was a highlight in a year which saw the quartet playing a record number of gigs, with extensive tours of the US and Europe. The recording does of course make for a fascinating document in the lineage of the band, capturing a developmental chapter between the song forms of the ‘Suspended Night’ repertoire and the improvised areas that the Polish players would explore on ‘Lontano’, but more than this, it captures the heart of the music itself. I doubt there could be a finer example of the connection these four players shared, with Stanko at his charismatic best and in spellbinding form, clearly inspired by the energetic support and communicative power of Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz and Michal Miskiewicz, the dynamic young musicians for whom he had been a mentor.

Mike Gates, UK Vibe

The album My Prophet by Oded Tzur attracts acclaim in the US, Austria and Italy


Israeli-born, America-based saxophonist Oded Tzur continues making interesting and expressive music on the ECM label with ‘My Prophet’, where he fits in perfectly with the label’s moody, weird and altogether lovely house style. Once again in a quartet formation, Tzur is joined by the wonderful Nitai Hershkovits on piano, bassist Petros Klampanis and group newcomer Cyrano Almeida on drums. […] As with many ECM releases, the whole is sometimes prioritized over the individual pieces. Each track is still composed with care and concern, but the songs seem rather subservient to a greater encompassing atmosphere, not quite allowed (or willing) to distract from the larger conception.

Konstantin N. Rega, Spectrum Culture


This is special music, meticulously crafted but allowing enough room for colorful improvisation and freedom within the compositions.  Tzur continues to stand apart.

Jim Hynes, Making A Scene


Saxophonist Oded Tzur has gone from strength to strength ever since he moved from studying Indian classical music in Rotterdam to playing jazz in New York. His fifth album ‘My Prophet’ further consolidates his distinctive sound: microtonal modalities, undulating rhythms that somehow swing, near-telepathic interplay with his stalwart quartet […]. Tzur’s compositions avoid the blues-based standards of jazz tradition without ignoring them, concentrating instead on an enigmatic atmosphere and unusual tonalities that draw as much from his Indian classical training as from jazz […]  Gorgeous, inviting, yet ever so slightly strange, ‘My Prophet’ takes Tzur’s extraordinary vision to the next level.

Michael Toland, The Big Takeover


‘My Prophet’ trifft einen emotionell ganz tief.  Das Piano spielt ein Landsmann von Oded, Nitai Hershkovits […] Der Bassist, der Grieche Petros Klampanis,  steht mittlerweile in der ersten Reihe der Jazz-Kollegen. Wir lernen auch einen dynamischen Drummer aus Belo Horizonte kennen: Cyrano Almeida. […] die Songs charakterisieren sich durch Sanftheit, Reduktion und Fragilität. Nur bei der Schlussnummer,’Last Bike Ride In Paris’, durchbricht die Band die Atmosphäre der Meditation. Man schließt energisch, wild und kraftstrotzend. Nitai ist plötzlich ein Wirbelwind,  der pianistische Pirouetten kreiert. […] Jazz der Superlative.

Ernst Weiss, Concerto


La garbata commistione tra il jazz contemporaneo e il peso della tradizione costituisce il segno più avvertibile dell’avventura musicale di ‘My Prophet’, animata da una costante, leggera inquietudine che ne percorre, sotterranea, l’intera struttura. L’aspetto timbrico del sax di Tzur, con quegli accorgimenti tecnici già segnalati, è unico e francamente non ne conosco di eguali, per quanto possa ricordare. Il quartetto brilla di una combustione interna che solo a tratti mostra visibilmente la propria fiamma, preferendo convogliare l’energia prodotta in direzione centripeta, verso un ambito prettamente meditativo.

Riccardo Talamazzi, Offtopic Magazine

Further international reactions to the piano solo album Silent, Listening by Fred Hersch


It seems at last as if Fred Hersch has found his natural home, right where he belongs on ECM with its historic roster of solo pianists. He first recorded for the label in November 2021, in a spontaneous duo with trumpeter Enrico Rava, and then wanted to repeat the experience as a solo pianist, in the same hall in Lugano, where the acoustics were perfect, and on the same piano, too, with Manfred Eicher again as producer. […] Throughout, what he calls his open improvising – the playing of ‘not tunes’, as he terms them – gives him space to explore and expand, his delicate ‘Starlight’, for example, blossoming into a luxurious episode, while ‘Aeon’ is gossamer thin in texture, its high-register notes contrasting with a bass undertow. Three standards complete the set, which he had no idea he was going to play: ‘I just sort of felt them at the moment,’ he explains. Russ Freeman’s ‘The Wind’ provides one of the album’s most magical moments, a one-take deconstruction that is gentle but full of feeling. Sigmund Romberg’s ‘Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise’ repeats the ingenuity of probably its most famous interpreter Sonny Rollins, while the concluding ‘Winter Of My Discontent’, suggested to Hersch by its composer Alec Wilder when they first met up in New York, revels in its suitably nostalgic, poignant delivery. It provides a fine ending to what is a strong solo debut on the label.

Simon Adams, Jazz Journal


An impeccably produced, gorgeous-sounding collection recorded in Lugano that blends original material with standards.

Charles Waring, Record Collector


Fred Hersch est habité par l’acoustique exceptionnelle de cette salle, et la musique semble surgir des profondeurs de l’âme, entre l’inspiration, l’écoute, la jouissance du son, et l’ivresse du risque qu’il peut y avoir à se livrer avec une telle générosité..ce premier disque en solo de Fred Hersch pour ECM est une merveille. Tout simplement….

Xavier Prévost, Over-Blog


Der klare und subtile Anschlag des innovativen Pianisten Fred Hersch ist zart und bringt doch  die Intensität  mit, die musikalische Kraftderstücke zu betonen. […] Sieben Titel sind Eigenkompositionen und die vier Standards, die er einstreut, bearbeitet er zu erstaunlichen Bildern in neuen Landschaften. […] Trotz der großteils ruhigeren Stücke übt er eine dynamische Energie aus, die mit rhythmischer Kraft und unerwarteteten Pausen gespickt ist. Sein emotional zugängliches Spiel lässt einen in die unterschiedlichsten Hörwinkel aufbrechen.

Arnold Loimer, Concerto


Il piano solo di Hersch rivela una precisione di suono e intenzione che lascia sbalorditi. Nella perfetta acustica dell’Auditorium della Radio Svizzera italiana e, neanche a dirlo, della ripresa ECM, il pianista americano combina in maniera sorprendentemente organica standard, composizioni originali e improvvisazioni. L’organizzazione dei suoni, pervasi da un nitore e da un’essenzialità che riverberano come mantra in una meditazione, agisce sulla percezione fino a renderla sensibile al minimo movimento nel silenzio. (…) Un balsamo per lo spirito.

Alessandro Hellmann, Rockerilla

A French reviewer on the album Frozen Silence by Maciej Obara


‘Frozen Silence’ est une œuvre pleine de finesse où Obara et ses amis renouent avec ce goût, affirmé dans ‘Three Crowns’, pour la musique écrite occidentale ; car si ici les morceaux sont signés par l’altiste, dont les compositions brillantes font briller les solistes, cette inclination pour l’infiniment petit et ce sens unique de la simplicité tel qu’on l’entend dans ‘ Black Cauldron’ évoquent Gorécki, largement cité dans les disques précédents.

Franpi Barriaux, Citizen Jazz

A US music magazine on the album Songs of Fate by Gidon Kremer with the Kremerata Baltica and Vida Miknevičiūtė


This deeply personal recording, from a superstar violinist who has turned his back on celebrity, is nothing short of breathtaking. […] Many of these powerful, emotionally wrought tracks revolve around what Kremer has called ‘the notion of Jewishness’ and include laments and a pair of kaddishes. There are such works as ‘The Star of David’, arranged by Lithuanian composer Giedrius Kuprevičius, as well as the ‘Jewish Songs’, Op. 13, by Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg. Kremer has recorded several of Weinberg’s works in the past, including his sonatas for solo violin. Bookending ‘Songs of Fate’ are the premiere recordings of Raminta Šerkšnytė’s haunting ‘This too shall pass’ and Jēkabs Jančevskis’ dynamic ‘Lignum.’ Soprano Vida Miknevičiūtė adds an ethereal touch to ‘David’s Lamentation.’ Featured players include cellist Magdalena Ceple and vibraphonist Andrei Pushkarev. On solo passages, Kremer sometimes digs into his strings like a man possessed. […] ‘Songs of Fate’ consistently offers some of the most captivating string music I’ve heard in recent memory.

Greg Cahill, Strings Magazine

A German music magazine on the album The Living Mountain with music by Thomas Larcher


Als ‚Bergkomponist, als Naturkomponist, als einer, der in den Bergen sitzt und beim Fenster hinausschaut‘, möchte er sich nicht verstanden wissen. Und dies, obwohl seine Komposition ‚The Living Mountain‘ für Sopran und Ensemble durchaus von der Bergwelt handelt: Larcher vertont in diesem Stück Texte der schottischen Autorin Nan Sheperd aus ihrem gleichnamigen Buch. Dabei handelt es sich nicht um ‚herkömmliche‘ Naturlyrik, sondern um Reflexionen der menschlichen Seele in der Einsamkeit der Landschaft. Die erwähnte ‚Stille der Berge‘ ist in der Musik stets präsent, stets konterkariert jedoch von innerer, fast panikartiger Unruhe.
Der Kontrast eigentlich schwer vereinbarer Ausdrucksformen ist es also, der für Larchers Musik typisch ist: einerseits perkussive Spieltechniken, die der Avantgarde entlehnt sind – in ‚Unerzählt‘ hat der Pianist fast ebenso oft im Korpus seines Instruments zu agieren wie auf der Tastatur –, andererseits Restbestände der ‚alten‘ Tonalität, ihrer ursprünglichen Funktionalität beraubt und wie aus weiter Ferne, oder einer vergilbten Fotografie, grüßend. Im Vergleich zu früheren Kompositionen finden sich sogar Anklänge an die Musik Arvo Pärts in langsam absteigenden Moll-Skalen.
Die Interpretationen werden den hohen Ansprüchen von Larchers Musik vollends gerecht. Andrè Schuen hat sich in der Vergangenheit schon mehrfach mit Werken von Larcher interpretatorisch auseinandergesetzt, und gemeinsam mit dem Pianisten Daniel Heide gelingt es ihm in ‚Unerzählt‘, auch und gerade in Momenten äußerster Reduktion die stärkste Wirkung zu erzielen. Das Münchner Kammerorchester unter Clemens Schuldt lässt die zerbrechliche Farbigkeit von Larchers Klängen in ihrer Vielfalt Gerechtigkeit widerfahren und bildet einen perfekten Hintergrund sowohl für die Cellistin Alisa Weilerstein in ‚Ouroboros‘ als auch für die Sopranistin Sarah Aristidou in ‚The Living Mountain.

Thomas Schulz, Das Orchester

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'