21.04.2023 | Reviews of the week

Reviews of the week

US and UK reactions to the fifth and final recording of the Prism series by the Danish String Quartet


The DSQ’s ‚Prism‘ is Essential Listening! […] Listen to any of the Bach fugues on the ‚Prism’ releases, and you find that few, if any, of the thematic entries are underlined or even pointed out. Even when they adopt the bare tone they favor in Bach, they adjust their balances to welcome a new line, a new thought, with exquisite, barely perceptible ease. […] You get the sense in these recordings that every bar of music has been as carefully considered as it should be, that the minutest aspect of each note hasbeen discussed; the control of sonority and articulation on show is absolute, even as the range of both is vast.

David Allen, The New York Times


Bach’s solemn organ chorale prelude BWV668 and Contrapunctus XIV from ‘The Art of Fugue’ provide the bookends for this final instalment, the players responding naturally and subtly to each other and bringing clarity and fluidity to their contrapuntal interaction […] The blending of timbre and secure intonation are matched by playing of conversational vitality in the opening Allegro and fiery scherzo of Beethoven’s op.135. The slow movement’s meditative variations are conveyed with radiance and intensity […] the finale is negotiated with seasoned skill and authority, the impassioned intensity and anguish of its introductory material contrasting sharply with the affirmative joy and vigour of its Allegro. The fundamental motif of Webern’s tripartite, single-movement String Quartet (1905) links well with op.135’s finale, signalling its serial potential before releasing a sound world warmed by late-Romantic tonality and textures, exquisitely shaded and balanced. Throughout, ECM’s engineers do full justice to these refined, coherent and erudite performances, which combine an exhilarating sweep with minute attention to details of phrasing and timbre.

Robin Stowell, The Strad

The new album Vagabond by Dominic Miller is reviewed in the USA and the UK


Though a skilled and versatile player, Miller doesn’t make guitar records – he uses his instrument to compose songs, not showcases, to which he invites his band to contribute. Pianist Jacob Karlzon (Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone) adds rippling piano counterpoint to Miller’s melodies, to which drummer Ziv Ravitz (Lionel Loueke, Avishai Cohen) provides finespun rhythms; Miller’s longtime compadre and bassist Nicolas Fiszman shares a pulse so subtle you probably wouldn’t notice it unless it was missing. Tracks like the bright ‘Cruel But Fair,’ the jazzy ‘Lone Waltz,’ and the moody ‘Clandestin’ paint genre-defying pictures on ‘Vagabond’ like those conceived by bands like Oregon – expertly performed, instantly appealing and, after a few listens, often sublime.

Michael Toland, The Big Takeover


Miller’s observation that he sees himself as an ‘instrumental songwriter’ is borne not only by the songlike quality of the tracks but also by their collaborative nature […] a fine composer/performer and first among equals in this highly listenable quartet.

Julian Maynard-Smith, London Jazz News


Presenting a new quartet with fresh material for the recording session Miller has created a wonderfully evocative soundscape. All four musicians are identified as strong leaders in their own right, but here they serve the music as a collective. Little in the way of out and out solos, but instead a beautifully structured set of lyrical instrumental ensemble music […] There are many highlights in this set including the lovely solo guitar feature on ‘Mi Viejo’ along with the closing ‘Lone Waltz’ that brings the album to a perfect close and leaving you wanting more.

Nick Lea, Jazz Views

A leading Swiss daily on It’s Always Now by the Ralph Alessi Quartet


Das Quartett interpretiert hauptsächlich Kompositionen von Alessi. Sie sind komplex, aber durchaus zugänglich; sie verlangen Aufmerksamkeit, aber keine Anstrengung, weil die Strukturen Sinn und Farbe haben. Teils gehen die fokussierten, alle Geschwätzigkeit vermeidenden Improvisationen von minimalistischen Entwürfen aus, teils von polyfonen Themen. Die Bandbreite der Stimmungen reicht von lyrischer Introspektion bis zu energischem Interplay.

Manfred Papst, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

German and Austrian reactions to the solo guitar album At First Light by Ralph Towner


Es fasziniert bei den elf Titeln, mit welcher Fantasie er die Themen ausgestaltet, wie er ihnen Strahlkraft und Fülle verleiht, wie er das soeben Gespielte durch neue Variationen oder andere Themen ablöst, wie er vom Fortissimo ins Pianissimo fällt und die Klangmöglichkeiten ausreizt. Herrlich.

Werner Stiefele, Stereoplay


Nur gelegentlich groovend, bestechen die elf Stücke durch improvisatorischen Einfallsreichtum, ihre subtile, detailversessene Dramaturgie sowie durch die stupende Klangkultur, mit der Towner die einzelnen Töne wie ein Bildhauer zu formen scheint.

Klaus Nüchtern, Falter

A German reaction to the new guitar solo album El ultimo aliento by Zsófia Boros


Ein akustisch funkelndes Juwel, so traumverloren schön wie nachhaltig wirkend. Schon ihre 2013 und 2016 veröffentlichten Aufnahmen haben diesen lyrisch zarten, zerbrechlichen Tenor, der jedoch auch Stolz und Entschlossenheit beinhaltet. Damals interpretierte die Ungarin Themen von Leo Brouwer, Martin Reiter, Al Di Meola oder Franghiz Ali-Zadeh. Diesmal beschäftigt sich die Gitarristin überwiegend mit modernen argentinischen Komponisten und mit Stücken des französischen Autodidakten und Multiinstrumentalisten Mathias Duplessy. Zsófia Boros gibt diesen Vorgaben mit ihrer sehr empathischen und emotionalen Interpretation eine ungemein lyrische und stimmungsvolle Note. Ihr Spiel ist konzentriert und sanft zugleich, es verströmt eine fließende Aura von poetischer Zeitlosigkeit und offensichtlicher Ästhetik. Zugleich spürt man ihren musikalischen Deutungen eine gewisse Freiheit an, die sie als eine Art Kompass nicht nur bei der Auswahl ihres Repertoires leitet. […] ‘El último aliento’ ist mit Sicherheit eine der bewegendsten und exzellentesten Aufnahmen dieser Saison.

Jörg Konrad, Kultkomplott

A UK  reaction to the re-issue of Keith Jarrett’s Book of Ways


Like Jarrett’s other projects such as multitracked solo album ‘Spirits’ recorded a year earlier and ‘Hymns’/ ‘Spheres’, a double album of organ improvisations from a decade earlier, ‘Book of Ways’ must be taken as a single entity and free to exist in its own right. Not to be compared or judged against any other recording but purely on the merits of the music produced on the day, and in the moment. Like his solo piano recordings, the music presented is completely improvised with no prior preparation, but there any comparison ends. The clavichord is a completely different instrument and Jarrett quite rightly approaches it as such […] The sound of the clavichord, falling somewhere between a lute and the Japanese koto, in Jarrett’s hands becomes an expressive instrument that takes the listener well beyond what they might expect to hear in such a recital. The speed of thought and execution is only part of the process as Jarrett is also making adjustments and discoveries as he is creating music and sounds clusters in the moment. ‘Book of Ways’ takes the use of the instrument as far away from the niceties of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical music that has gone before. His two handed playing on two keyboards enable him to produce combinations of notes that would not otherwise have been possible. […] Recorded as Jarrett said at the time ‘on an off day between concerts with my trio’ in a session that took just four hours ‘Book of Ways’ offers a unique insight into the possibilities of the clavichord that takes the instrument out of the familiar and into unknown territory. With the re-issue of ‘Book of Ways’, it is perhaps time to reassess this rarefied item in Jarrett’s discography and place it in context in the development of this most gifted of musicians.

Nick Lea, Jazz Views


The upcoming vinyl-reissue of Kenny Wheeler’s Gnu High within the newly launched Luminessence series is welcomed by media in the US, UK and Germany


Jazz rarely gets closer to perfection than it does on ‘Gnu High’, and it has never sounded finer than on this ‘Luminessence’ pressing.

Chris May, All About Jazz


Recorded in New York in 1975, ‘Gnu High’ was Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler’s sensational ECM debut. It remains to this day one of the label’s finest releases. ‘Gnu High’ brought Wheeler to a new level of international acclaim, for both his impassioned playing and his profoundly lyrical writing. Here he fronts an extraordinary quartet, with Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, all masterful improvisers who had shaped their intuitive collective understanding as members of Miles Davis’s groups. […] I’d forgotten just how wonderful this album is. It’s been a good few years since last giving it a spin and to hear it now as an audiophile release is a double whammy of aural magnificence. The brilliance of the music is perfectly matched by the clarity, depth, and warmth of the sound.

Mike Gates, UK Vibe


Kenny Wheelers ‘Gnu High’, aufgenommen im Juni 1975 und veröffentlicht 1976, markierte den Einstieg des kanadischen Trompeters und Flügelhornisten bei ECM. Es war gleichzeitig das letzte Auftreten von Superstar-Pianist Keith Jarrett als Sideman. Wheeler hatte alle drei Titel geschrieben, darunter das LP-Seiten-füllende ‘Heyoke’. Der Bandleader mit seinem klaren, oft melancholischen Ton hatte sich von seinen avantgardistischen Wurzeln abgenabelt und und bot auch Jarrett, Bassist Dave Holland sowie dem fantastischen Drummer Jack DeJohnette treibende, lyrische Themen und die Räume für ausschweifende, aber nie langatmige Improvisationen. […] Die Musik ist zeitlos groß.

Lothar Brandt, Audio


An early German reaction to the upcoming vinyl- reissue of  Nana Vasconcelos’ Saudades within the newly launched Luminessence series


Eine neue, allerfeinst designte Vinyl-Serie lässt die frühen, ‘analogen’ Zeiten hochleben, mit ausgewählten Wiederveröffentlichungen. Den Anfang macht Ende April, neben Kenny Wheelers  ‘Gnu High’, das Album ‘Saudades’ von Nana Vasconcelos, das einst im Ausklang jenes wilden Jahrzehnts entstand, im März 1979 im Tonstudio Bauer, und die archaische Berimbau u.a. mit klassischen Streichinstrumenten kreuzte: pure Magie, weitaus mehr als der Reiz einer seltsamen Kombination […] In der Tat: herausragender Klang, sowieso herausragende Musik!

Michael Engelbrecht, Manafonistas

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'