10.03.2023 | Reviews of the week

Reviews of the week

Media in the UK and Germany welcome the upcoming album Sphere by the Bobo Stenson Trio

 

‘Sphere’, this incarnation’s fourth studio outing, is a mirror image of 2018’s ‘Contra La Indecisión’. The former offered a small handful of revisioned classical works, interspersed with original compositions. Sphere is the reverse. It is primarily comprised of works by 20th and 21st century composers including Per Nørgård, Sven-Erik Bäck, and Jean Sibelius and offers two originals by Jormin. […] 52 years after releasing his ECM leader debut, Stenson and his trio are still deep in the throes of discovery.

Thom Jurek, All Music

 

A powerful introspective album that draws us into a world of intense mutual concentration, with many moments of astonishing lyrical beauty. At its core is a ravishing reworking of  Sven-Erik Bäck’s ‘Communion Psalm’, its opening right-hand piano figures catching the essence of choral phrasing, before a deft bass solo ushers in some of the trio’s best collective work on the album.

Alyn Shipton, Jazzwise

 

A heavyweight listen that rewards maximum concentration, this trio of pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Anders Jormin and drummer-percussionist Jon Fält has been together for a long time and there is a gravitas to what they do that such a long association has helped create. It is no exaggeration to claim that the Stenson trio is one of the greatest jazz piano trios in Europe of recent decades and this latest output recorded last year only goes to underline that idea. […] While often an austere listen shaped around compositions (and arrangements) by Jormin and with repertoire also spanning the Norwegian pianist and composer Alfred Janson, Danish composer Per Nørgård, Swedish composer Sven-Erik Bäck and the great Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius, Stenson escapes the barriers of any structures to radiate outwards his particular sense of freedom. And you get this factor especially on Jormin’s hugely expansive piece ‘Kingdom of Coldness’. Fält’s touch at the beginning of ‘Communion Psalm’ is perfect and here Stenson’s devout statement and recapitulation of his theme has a dimensional exactitude that is almost baroque in its sense of discipline and immaculate symmetry.

Stephen Graham, Marlbank

 

‘Sphere’ further enhances the trio’s reputation as one of the most distinguished and elegant trios working in Europe today. […] Like the three previous albums, ‘Sphere’ was recorded at the Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano, and the room’s distinctive acoustics play into the trio’s sound, intensifying the searching nature of their communication. Listening to the LP, the sound is gorgeous, crystal clear and atmospheric. There’s a lovely mix of repertoire on this album, with bassist Jormin supplying the new compositions and arranging more traditional pieces. […] The characterful explorations of the trio are at times simply stunning. Jormin’s arrangement of Jung-Hee Woo’s ‘The red flower’ is brought to life by Stenson’s superlative playing. This is a trio in the truest essence, with it being almost impossible to imagine just one of three not being part of the whole.

Mike Gates, UK Vibe

 

Seelenbalsam ohne Kitsch. Die sehr warm klingende Aufnahme aus dem holzgetäfelten Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano zeigt wieder einmal die ECM-Tugenden: wunderbar transparent und detailreich.

Lothar Brandt, Audio (‘Jazz Highlight’)

 

Gemeinsam ist diesen Herren eine bemerkenswert starke Neigung, sich neuen musikalischen Herausforderungen zu stellen. War dies auf ‘Cantando’ (2008) beispielsweise Alban Bergs ‘Liebesode’, so wandern die drei nunmehr durch Charles Ives’ reich bestückten Notenwald (‘Unquestioned Answer – Charles Ives in memoriam’) . Aber nicht nur durch diesen, findet zudem doch – neben eigenen Stücken – die melodiöse ‘Valsette’ op. 40/1 von Jean Sibelius Aufmerksamkeit. […] Stenson ist auch gegen Ende seines achten Lebensjahrzehntes ein jung gebliebener Entdecker.

Wolfgang Gratzer, Jazzpodium

The upcoming solo album At First Light by Ralph Towner is reviewed in France, Germany and the USA

 

Le jeu de Towner est généreux et lyrique et convoque tant la musique Classique que le jazz,  la musique brésilienne ou l’esthétique contemporaine et épuée d’un Arvo Pärt. […] La mélodie est au centre du propos de Ralph Towner qui semble n’avoir jamais aussi bien joué […] Un disque vraiment délicieux…

Régis Savigny, Guitare Sèche

 

Towners Timing ist makellos im Flow, seine Artikulation hinreißend erzählend, die Fähigkeit, Oberfläche und Tiefe gestaltend zu verbinden, von umarmender Schönheit, die Erfahrung, auch Kleines groß klingen zu lassen, von lächelnder Empathie getragen.

Ralf Dombrowski, Jazzthing

 

Containing both original compositions as well as renditions of a few classics, ‘At First Light’ is simply a man and his guitar, with Towner’s gorgeous, virtuoso acoustic melody lines wafting through the mix on such intricately layered yet haunting beautiful numbers such as ‘Flow’, ‘Strait’, ‘Ubi Sant’, and the lush ‘Empty Stage’, which sit so well alongside his haunting take on ‘Danny Boy’ and Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Little Old Lady’. […] Produced by Manfred Eicher and recorded at Auditorio Stellio Molo RSI, Lugano, ‘At First Light’ sounds just lovely…simple, airy, and warm. Just a man and his guitar, still at the top of his craft at 82 years old. He is a musical treasure.

Pete Pardo, Sea of Tranquility

An early Italian reaction to the upcoming album It’s Always Now by the Ralph Alessi Quartet

 

Un disco che propone una potente tesi individuale da parte di un musicista nell’ orbita di un personalissimo viaggio nel tempo, misteriosamente serena e sempre umana.

Raffaello Carabini, Spettakolo

A UK music magazine on A Short Diary by Sebastian Rochford with Kit Downes

 

In the form of an audio diary, Rochford thoughtfully and exquisitely engages with various stages of the grieving process […] The drummer’s memorable succinct child-like themes are fertile springboards for the outstanding pianist Kit Downes, who delicately investigates them with a sharpened spatial awareness and calmly imaginative poise while the drummer-leader takes on a modest supporting role for the large part. ‘A Short Diary’ is made up of tenderly reflective, fragile elements, at times sounding  something like a cross  between the more tranquil, sparing moments of Debussy’s piano works with Leonard Cohen’s sombre hymns, yet with a ray of light peeking through the solemn mist.

Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise (Editor’s choice)

The album Drifting by Mette Henriette is reviewed in a German weekly

 

Auf ihrem neuen Album ‘Drifting’ findet sie, begleitet von Klavier und Cello, viele Möglichkeiten, dem Wind eine Stimme zu geben. Sanft, voller Brüche, komplett unesoterisch und von wilder Schönheit.

Oliver Creutz, Stern

A Swiss monthly on Sir András Schiff’s new recording of music by J.S. Bach on the Clavichord

 

Was Schiff nun aus diesem Instrument macht, wenn er erneut Bach aufnimmt, übersteigt alles Herkömmliche. Der Klang ist leiser und geheimnisvoller als ein Cembaloklang, zugleich melodischer und sanglicher, zumal man (im Gegensatz zum Cembalo) einmal angeschlagene Töne nach Belieben aushalten kann. Das ergibt einen wesentlich größeren Interpretationsspielraum, und Schiff nutzt diesen nicht nur für agogische und dynamische Finessen, sondern auch für eine möglichst ‘durchsichtige’ Transparenz der musikalischen Textur. Kurz: Es ist als würde man Bachs Tastenmusik neu hören. Es sind intime Klangerlebnisse, die das Clavichord ermöglicht – sozusagen ein unmittelbarer Dialog zwischen dem Hörer und dem Instrument. Selbstverständlich ist das auch dem eminenten Bach-Interpreten András Schiff zu verdanken, der einen verständnisinnigen und gleichzeitig hoch sensiblen Tiefenblick in die Struktur der Werke hat wie heute sonst kaum einer. Das Zuhören macht nicht nur vorbehaltlos Freude, sondern es ist zudem auch unaufdringlich lehrreich. Was will man mehr?

Werner Pfister, Musik & Theater

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'

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin performs in the US, Mexico and Switzerland.