An interview with Ethan Iverson in Jazz Times gives some more interesting details.
The thing we keep coming back to is simply this: how did they play the goddamn thing back in 1913?
People always ask, “Are you playing the whole thing?” Of course we are playing the whole thing! I’m not really sure this is a jazz version either. Lots of stuff in TBP walks the line: “Is this jazz?” Well, the TBP/Rite is on a whole other avenue. Hey, if you want to call it jazz, great. We certainly love jazz! But for me, the phrase “a jazz version of ‘The Rite’” sits there wilting on the vine…I’m already yawning. We are trusting that TBP fans understand that we bring TBP to the room in whatever we do.
Get it here
Eight Blackbird were the first to record and play Reich’s recent composition ‘Double Sextet’. They shared some of their experiences of playing the piece and working with Reich on the amusingly named thirteen ways. The whole post is stuffed with fascinating insights.
Why does Steve get so involved in this process? For much of the composer’s early maturity, the Steve Reich Ensemble (including Steve himself as percussionist) was the only group performing his music. They evolved a distinctive-sounding “house style” with its own unique energy. Rather than worshipping at the altar of the score as an exact set of Google Map directions, pieces like Drumming and Music for 18 Musicians were taught, learned, and developed without much recourse to the printed page.
I’ve certainly found that apart from learning the patterns, the score is relatively useless. It really is a piece where your eyes can’t be on the score the whole time.
The typical Reich ‘house style’ is so crucial to his music that the process of finding that right sound seems like more of a challenge than the actual notes themselves. We have given ourselves plenty of time to learn the piece and I feel like the patterns themselves are becoming more and more fluent every day but we can only wait and hope that the ‘house sound’ will come to our eclectic collection of musicians! Thankfully we have been plugged into the oral tradition of his music thanks to the input of Micaela Haslam and Mandy Morrison.
This raises the question:
[The oral tradition] can ensure a sort of “legacy” for performances of his music during Steve’s lifetime, but what about well into the future?
And on the question of his famous temper? Some words of encouragement!
And those rumors of Steve as an unreasonably hard task-master? Hugely exaggerated. After such an exhaustive, intense process of preparation we were all a little jittery about what the composer might say when he heard us play the piece live. So you can imagine our relief when, at the end of the first complete run of Double Sextet for the composer, his only reaction was, “Wow, fantastic. I really have nothing to say.”
Read the whole thing here.
Kenny Barron at Ronnie Scott’s last friday was always going to be one of the music highlights of my year. Pianist Kenny Barron has played with almost every important name in jazz for the last 50 years and it’s only when you start looking that you realise how pervasive he is as a sideman. On Friday night he was no sideman. It was all about the piano trio.
Approaching the distinguished age of 70 Kenny Barron does not appear to be loosing any of the fluency that is such a hallmark of his playing. He is well known for his blazingly fast swing and faultlessly executed runs but to hear both these things in a live setting was stunning. Seeing (and hearing) really is believing. The uptempo numbers, which included a highly anticipated version of ‘New York Attitude’, were mixed in with some ballads although I was disappointed that there was no latin tune or even a ‘jazz latin’ improvised chorus.
The ballads were equally as impressive as the fast tunes. In the first ballad (a Monk tune whose name alludes me) Mr. Barron seemed to be making a conscious effort to play simple melodic lines, which produced some beautiful results. Check out the version of ‘Body & Soul’ from ‘Night And The City’ with Charlie Haden for a perfect example of what he can do with limited melodic material (the piano solo starts after the bass solo at about 3 min 50). The second ballad was a solo medley which was in complete contrast to the first ballad. Sumptuous voicings and astonishing modulations were the order of the day here leaving the audience in stunned silence. Dismiss this as glorified cocktail piano at your peril!
As it was Piano trio week at Ronnies the stage was in the round, which I thought was very effective. It made the whole gig more intimate and seemed to encourage participation. Contrary to some other reviews I found the audience at the set to be very appreciative and eager to show that appreciation. I wish they would have the stage in the round more often.
Kiyoshi Kitagawa on the bass and Johnathan Blake on the drums seemed to be especially gelling as a unit as they executed some perfectly synchronised and seemingly unrehearsed hits at the end of a solo. Kitagawa was especially impressive as one of the most harmonically interesting bassists I have heard in a while and his solos really went down well with the audience. During an exchange of fours the enthusiastic applause of the audience drowned out the whole of the answering phrase from the piano. Slightly unfortunate as when you’ve paid Ronnies prices, you don’t want to miss a single note!
A fantastic evening overall. Just such a shame they kick you out at 10pm for another set. Would have loved to stay and hear that.
Also special mention to Gareth Williams for some great music, a surprisingly tasteful suit and typically terrible jazz banter. Everything you want from a support act.
Just loving the internet rage at Esperanza Spalding rightly winning ‘best new artist’ last night
JUSTIN BEIBER DESERVED IT GO DIE IN A HOLE. WHO THE HECK ARE YOU ANYWAY?
I’ll just assume that question is rhetorical.
The Bad Plus has been commissioned by Duke Performances to create a reappraisal and rearrangement of Igor Stravinsky’s iconic Rite of Spring.
This I want to hear.
The challenge was to transform Stravinsky’s iconic orchestral work, one that famously caused a riot at its Paris premiere, into a compelling work for a trio known for bending and breaking genres.
Hopefully those of us not in America will get a chance to hear it. I was wondering what the next step would be from arrangements of Ligeti and Nirvana.
Still blows my mind that I can sit in my room and watch this quality of music for free.
Interesting interview in the Guardian with one of the most inventive British pianists around today. I heard him play tunes from his album ‘Perception’ in a ridiculously intimate setting in a school theatre in Holt. If you ever get to see him live, do. Until then get the interview here and enjoy the constantly shifting ‘A Typical Affair’
Just got hold of his new album ‘Good Days at Schloss Elmau’. While its true that he does occasionally channel a bit of Keith Jarrett my first impression is that it is an excellent album and worth a listen. (Although I am a bit of a sucker for vamp driven, contrapuntal solo piano.)