14.04.2023 | Reviews of the week

Reviews of the week

The upcoming album Vagabond by Dominic Miller is welcomed by reviewers in the UK and Germany

 

The collective spirit captured on this quartet recording is testimony to Miller’s thoughtful, skilful and open approach toward making music. Each tune sounds like a heartfelt discovery… as if the four musicians have searched and found something very special together. A deeply felt respect and understanding runs through all of the music here, with beautiful interplay and tender moments brought to life with subtle and nuanced expressions. The lovingly crafted arrangements bring a strong sense of belonging to the recording, allowing for each musician to become an integral part of the music, with the foursome expertly balancing deep grooves with subtle interplay, weaving pastel shades into delicate harmonic changes as they chart a ruminative path through the session. As one would expect from an ECM recording, the sound quality is excellent. Yet here, it feels particularly perceptive somehow. The essence of the stunning music is captured perfectly in the quality of the recording. […] ‘Vagabond’ is a stunning album from Miller. Its beauty is in detail. Its passion is created by four incredibly gifted musicians hitting the sweet spot together at the same time. Simply beautiful.

Mike Gates, UK Vibe

 

With every record on ECM Dominic Miller seems to go deeper into his own world. And on this Manfred Eicher produced studio album that sense of individuality coated in a Mediterranean dreaminess is the gateway to everything that unfolds. But there’s an intensity too say on ‘Lone Waltz’ when pianist Jacob Karlzon adds a heat and the crescendo sweeps us into a new intimacy […] But you do get detailed development of the themes as they often veer into more interesting waters out of the safe harbour of their pristine melodicism. In Miller’s soliloquising and interior mood music he sometimes has a lot in common with a world Andrés Segovia painted so luminously or a Joaquín Rodrigo classical work in its more starker disciplined moments. Bassist Nicolas Fiszman and drummer Ziv Ravitz, whose touch when it comes on ‘Clandestin’ is just right, prove a gruff contrast to the tracery of the rhapsoding piano lines that so naturally dance around.

Stephen Graham, Marlbank

 

Dieses Album ist auch deshalb so gut,weil Miller ein sehr effizientes Bandleading-System etabliert hat: Wenn die Kompositionsarbeit abgeschlossen ist, lädt er seine Wunschbesetzung für drei Tage zu sich nach Südfrankreich ein. Man verbringt Zeit miteinander, teilt dieselben Eindrücke, synchronisiert sich, spielt die Stücke durch und lernt sie sukzessive gemeinschaftlich zu verstehen. Erst im nächsten Schritt geht die Band dann ins Studio, um die kollektiv durchdrungenen Arrangements nun sehr frei auszuarbeiten. Durch dieses improvisatorische Element schreibt sich jeder Musiker in die Aufnahme ein, ohne ihren Kern, also das Narrativ, zu verändern, das auf gemeinschaftlich gemachter Erfahrung beruht.

Volker Doberstein, Tonart

UK, US, German and Austrian reviewers on It’s Always Now by the Ralph Alessi Quartet

 

What is interesting here is how relationships intertwine, paths that have once been trodden often cross again, as do musical associations and it is this crossing of paths that Alessi has used to fine effect in bringing together the musicians heard on this new recording, and in a new context. With some new music the trumpeter finds new inspiration and methods of communication. His association with pianist Florian Weber continues to flourish and deepen, and it is the voices of Alessi and Weber that introduce the arrival of the new compositions presented here. Having played together for more than two decades in various combinations and in each other’s bands and more importantly as a duo. The balance between composition and improvisation have also played an integral role in the pair’s music and the opening two pieces, ‘Hypnagogic’ and ‘Old Baby’ are improvisations that show a remarkable level of empathy, that are also heard on two further duets. […] When the quartet do come together, and first herd on ‘Migratory Party’ one is immediately struck by how the group continue along the route mapped out by Alessi and Weber on the preceding tunes while having the space and freedom to inject their own voices. This quickly coalesces into a new quartet sound that is at once lyrical and exploratory. […] Another new and important chapter in the burgeoning career of a musician whose values of strong compositions coupled with that most important ingredient of group empathy and interaction. This has once again produced music that not merely states where he has come from but offers tantalising hints of where his continuing journey may yet lead.

Nick Lea, Jazz Views

 

The set is mostly of the dreamy contemplative variety with nothing hurried and a balance between a through composed feel and improvisation. Alessi’s trumpet tone is pure and stunning both in terms of range and moods conveyed. […] Alessi’s quartet delivers a transportive experience, by turns mysterious, beautiful, and disarming. Play this before sleeping and your dreams will likely be colorful and eventful.

Jim Hynes, Making A Scene

 

Ein sehr reflektierter, tiefgründiger Lyrismus prägt diese Aufnahme: Man meint geradezu, den Musikern beim Nachdenken über die möglichst achtsame Ausgestaltung des Klangraums zuhören zu können. […] Auch wenn in der zweiten Hälfte des Programms das Dynamikspektrum erweitert, der rhythmische Impetus drängender, das Klangbild aufgewühlter wird, geht es neben der Schönheit immer auch um die Notwendigkeit jedes Klangs: Was die Aussage nicht klarer, zwingender macht, kann man auch weglassen. Das ergibt eine auf vielen kleinen Nuancen fast schwebende Improvisationsmusik, asketisch zwar, den aufmerksamen Zuhörer dennoch befriedigt zurücklassend.

Reinhold Unger, Münchner Merkur

 

Eigenwilliger Nonkonformismus zeichnet seine Musik ebenso aus wie der undogmatische Umgang mit der ’Jazz-DNA’. Er nimmt sich die Freiheit, jegliche Bausteine für seinen musikalischen Kreativprozess zur Verfügung zu halten, getaucht in einen kammermusikalischen Entstehungsfluss. In eben diesem Sinne korrespondieren Alessis affine Partner. […] Oftmals kulminierte dies in simultanen Kollektivimprovisationen mit einem hohen Grad an Formentwicklung. Pianist Weber durchsetzte seine impressionistischen Ausführungen gelegentlich mit anregenden, aggressionsbefreiten Clustern.  Der Bass platziert mit ausgesprochen kantablem Spiel formidable kontrapunktische Sequenzen. Alessi findet mit eigener Melodierhythmik und sprödem, klar umzirkeltem Ton, der Trockenheit dem Vibrato vorzieht, immer die passenden Gedanken dazu.

Hannes Schweiger, Concerto

The album Sphere by the Bobo Stenson Trio is acclaimed by media in the US and Austria

 

Stenson’s current trio released ‘Cantando’, ‘Indicum’ and ‘Contra La Indecision’. Now there is ‘Sphere’. It is impossible to rank these four recordings. All are magical. All convey a sense of concentrated, timeless purity, as if they were preserved in amber. Jormin and Fält are the subtlest of collaborators, yet they continuously enlarge this music, Jormin with his illuminating bass subtexts, Fält with his hushed, perfectly timed cymbal swells.

Thomas Conrad, Stereophile

 

European piano trios, many of whom come from a classical background, often sound very different from their American jazz counterparts. Such is the case for Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson who made his debut with ECM a whopping 52 years ago with ‘Underwear’ and has remained in the ECM stable with producer Manfred Eicher ever since. […] ‘Sphere’, is their fourth project, similar in some respects to 2018’s Contra La Indecisión but containing just two originals. It is primarily comprised of works by 20th and 21st century Scandinavian composers including Per Nørgård, Sven-Erik Bäck, and Jean Sibelius, and offers two originals by Jormin. It’s a quiet album that demands a concentrated listen but rewards with a ‘lost in the music’ lasting effect which may have you returning to it when in a particularly contemplative mood. […] Only an experienced trio of this ilk could make this explorative music. Stenson and Jormin have been together for over four decades now and do not seem the least bit bored. Again, this is high level listening that demands full concentration for which you will be justly rewarded. This one is special.

Jim Hynes, Making A Scene

 

‘Sphere’,  sein neuestes Album mit seinen aktuellen  Mitspielern Anders Jormin (Bass) und Jon Fält (Schlagzeug),ist ein schönes Beispiel dafür, wie in diesem Ensemble Erfahrung, Sensibilität, Risikofreude und lyrische Kraft aufs Schönste zusammenfinden.

Achim Doppler, Concerto

Italian, Austrian and German reviewers on the solo guitar album At First Light by Ralph Towner

 

La musica di Towner sembra venire da lontano e andare lontano, con un incedere lirico che ti porta ad abbandonarti alle note e a seguirne il fluire nell’aria, la melodia, le variazioni, il suo sviluppo, il suo significato profondo, la sua unicità. Si potrebbe citare ogni singolo brano di ‘At First Light’, poiché ognuno di essi è un piccolo meraviglioso quadro, che ha una sua storia, un suo perché, una sua intrinseca bellezza ed emozione.

Raffaello Carabini, Spettakolo

 

Towner hat die Aufnahmen im Februar in einem Studio in Lugano gemacht und sich dabei hörbar wohlgeführt, und zeitweise hat man auch das Gefühl, dass bereits einige Sonnenstrahlen den Raum erhellt haben. Die flotteren Tunes sind im Repertoire gut verteilt, das zunächst eher ruhig und verträumt scheint […] Towners Musik strahlt zeitgleich Ruhe, Zuversicht und Lebensfreude aus, die gut in den Frühling passt.

Christian Bakonyi, Concerto

 

Seine Songs wirken wahrlich wie Licht. Das legt sich verhalten auf die Haut, wie die ersten Strahlen der Morgensonne. Towner sinniert mit selbstbewusstem Understatment. Alles ist spektakulär unspektakulär […] Er hat noch so viel zu sagen, doch braucht er dafür nicht mehr viele Worte.’At First Light’ ist ein Soloalbum der kleinen Gesten mit großer Wirkung, die sich auch noch entfaltet, wenn der letzte Ton der Musik längst verklungen ist.

Wolf Kampmann, Eclipsed

An early Belgian reaction to the new guitar solo album El ultimo aliento by Zsófia Boros

 

La jeune-femme propose une douzaine de pieces minimalistes et séduisantes […] Boros est captivante.

MDM, La Libre Belgique

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.