The web would sometimes seem to be infinite. Looking for something else, I recently stumbled upon the You Are What You Hear blog site. Dedicated to unreleased live jazz recordings, it contains thousands of mp3 files with previously unheard-of jewels from all corners of the jazz musical spectrum. Remarkably, the last entry in the site was made two years ago. But everything is still there: a time capsule carrying a treasure trove of music, floating in cyberspace.
The catalogue is endless, and one should make sure to download everything indispensable as soon as possible. To me, that includes this incredible recording from Norweigian saxophonist Jan Garbarek live in Kiel, Germany, the 10th of July, 1979, with his quintet from the iconic “Photo With…” ECM album featuring Bill Connors in guitar, John Taylor in piano, Eberhard Weber in bass and Jon Christensen in drums. The concert contains no less than 10 tracks and 2 hs 20 min of uninterrupted joy, all there at the YAWYH site. As the proof of the pudding is in the eating, here we have two tracks from this amazing concert. “Blue Sky”, the first track of the “Photo With…” album (15:32 min) followed by “Melting” (21:38 min), the first track of Bill Connors’ “Of Mist and Melting” ECM recording from 1977. (Also available from the Audio files sidebar.) Truly incredible stuff.
UPDATE 2011-11-25: The YAWYH site has been taken down.
Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko visited Fasching along with his scandinavian quintet inlcuding Alexi Tuomarila on piano, Jakob Bro on guitar, Anders Christensen on bass and Olavi Louhivuori on drums. Much of the “Dark Eyes” (ECM 2115) repertoire was played with Stanko’s more introspective mood shown in his latest recordings. Soaring trumpet from Stanko solidly supported by Christensen and Louhivuori with Tuomarila and Bro adding color.
It happens once in a while that top tier international jazz groups come to Fasching. The visit of the Dave Holland Quintet was one of those precious occassions. Veteran bassist Dave Holland, of Miles Davis fame (e.g. In A Silent Way & Bitches Brew), alongside Chris Potter on saxophone, Robin Eubanks on trombon, Steve Nelson on marimba and vibraphone, and Nate Smith on drums. This quintet, albeit with different drummers, has been playing for a very long time now and recorded over half a dozen disks as quintet and as many as the core of larger ensembles. Astonishing energy, incredible playing, telepatic communication. Clearly one of the most important musical events of this year in Stockholm. Watch the videos featured at the end of this post.
Assiduous visitor of Stockholm’s Jazzklubb Fasching, Bobo Stenson appeared with his trio of ECM fame this past September. The all-Swedish trio includes Bobo Stenson on piano, Anders Jormin on bass and Jon Faltt on drums, now reportedly with their second ECM recording on the making (before Faltt, Jon Christiensen and Paul Motian sat at the drum kit of the trio). Along with the recently deceased Esbjorn Svensson, Bobo Stenson is perhaps the best internationally known Swedish jazz pianist. Less well known at home, his trio has been acclaimed abroad for many years for their beatuiful ECM recordings. In its ample repertoire, the jazz tradition intermingles with Swedish folk music, Cuban and Argentinian music and classical composers from Henry Purcell to Alban Berg.
Young Swedish pianist Mathias Landaeus got a check and flowers as recipient of one the 2010 Jazz Stipends awarded this past 21st of September at Jazzklubb Faasching, Stockholm. After a simple ceremony, the concert followed with Landaeus at the grand piano alongside veteran bass player Palle Danielsson and raising star Jon Faltt on drums. Mostly orignals from Landaeus in an intimate session which also paid tribute to several of his musical heroes, such as Thelonius Monk, and the Scandinavian folk tradition. Faltt as usual having a great time playing his percussion trickery, as can be seen in the video clip. For additional photographs of the concert, visit the the photo gallery.
Swedish pianist Lars Jansson performed with his trio at Jazzklubb Fasching, Stockholm, on September 13, 2010. Along Jansson were Christian Spering on bass and Anders Kjelberg on drums. They played both standards -such as the lovely Bill Evans tune featured on the video clip below- and originals from both Jansson and Spering. Superb technique from Jansson who still finds lots to say with tunes from the standard repertoire. The Scandinavian touch that characterizes most pianists from these latitudes is always present, at times folksy and with a pensive touch. A selection of the photographs taken during the concert (with Canon EOS 7d and the new 70-200mm f/2.8 L II lens) are available from the Photo Galleries and also HERE.
Master guitarrist Ralph Towner’s book “Improvisation and Performance Techniques for Classical and Acoustic Guitar” published by Hal Leonard in 1985 has been out of print for at least 20 years. A must read for any classical and jazz guitarrist with an inkling to improvisation, it reveals many of the inner workings of the unique sound developed by Towner over 40 years of guitar playing. Chapters cover several techniques, including damping and chordal plucking, finger combinations, left- and right hand techniques, arpeggio, harmony, scales and voicing. Over 60 exercises and the scores of several of Towner’s most famous compositions, including Distant Hills, Zephyr and Beneeath An Evening Sky, are also included. In the introduction, Towner writes that “the intention of this book is to provide you with musical instruction and material to assist you in learning improvisation, along with fundamental tone production and performance techniques. It is my hope that the content is accessible to a wide range of player skills, including those with minimal experience on the classical or acoustic guitar”. An important element in Towner’s music and playing technique is what he calls polymetrical rhythmic groupings: the implication of two or more time signatures occurring simultaneously. Many of the exercises in the book deal with this concept and its many variations. This is a phenomenal volume, highly recommended to any guitar player and all enthusiasts of Towner’s music.
Towner has more recently given out two books with the scores of several of his most celebrated compositions, Solo Guitar Works vol. 1 (2002) and vol. 2 (2006), published by Guitar Solo Publications. These are two terrific volumes and a must for all lovers of Towner’s music. Unlike “Improvisation and Performance Techniques”, they are still available and can be purchased from the GSP website and other online bookstores.
Guitarrist Wolfgang Muthspiel performed at Jazzklubb Facshing, Stockholm, on April 22nd, 2010 accompanied by Larry Grenadier on bass. Muthspiel is a very versatile player with superb technique and feel. In the concert, he featured an electric guitar and a body-less nylon with abundance of effects, live dubbings and electronic percussion. Awesome playing by Muthspiel. Grenadier outstanding, as always. Video clip recorded on the Canon EOS 7D and EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens. A selection of photographs taken during the concert can be seen HERE.
A remarkable concert featuring Vijay Iyer Trio live at Fasching on April 13 2010 in full power. Here is Vijay in full concentration at the piano (pic taken with my EOS 7d and the 100-400 L, which I took by mistake thinking that it was the 70-200L 2.8!). In addition to Iyer on piano, the trio includes Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. Their most recent album is “Historicity” (2009) on the ACT label. Several of the pieces of that album were featured at the Fasching concert. Vijay Iyer uses thick chords sweeping across the keyboard generating an orchestral backdrop onto which melodic lines navigate. Improvisation remains the central theme. From Vijay Iyer’s website: “his powerful, cutting-edge music is firmly grounded in groove and pulse, but also rhythmically intricate and highly interactive; fluidly improvisational, yet uncannily orchestrated; emotionally compelling, as well as innovative in texture, style, and musical form.”
Vijay Iyer holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from Yale College, and a Masters in Physics and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Technology and the Arts from the University of California at Berkeley. He has done research in music cognition, and published an article on “Improvisation, Temporality and Embodied Experience” in the Journal of Consciousness Studies (Vol. 11, No. 3-4, March-April 2004). In the Abstract of that paper, he writes: “… music perception and cognition are embodied, situated activities. This means that they depend crucially on the physical constraints and enabling of our sensorimotor apparatus, and also on the ecological and sociocultural environment in which our music-listening and -producing capacities come into being. I have argued that rhythm perception and production involve a complex, whole-body experience, and that much musical structure incorporates an awareness of the embodied, situated role of the participant. In this paper I focus specifically on improvisational music, and on what it can tell us about consciousness and cognition. Building upon the notion of cognition as embodied action, I would like to propose an understanding of certain improvisational music as quintessentially experiential, in that it leads us to re-experience our own practice of perception.” Listen to Jason Crane’s interview with Vijay Iyer from The Jazz Session, in which he talks about “everything from mirror neurons to math jazz, Fibonacci numbers to the legacy of Roy Haynes”.
Photograph above (taken with the EOS7D and 24L II lens) features Vijay Iyer on stage after the concert alongside PhD student Carolyn Marks. Carolyn has an uncanny ability to persuade musicians to pose by her side. More photographs taken during the concert are available HERE or in the link under Photo galleries.
Guitarrist Jonathan Kreisberg played with his quartet at Jazzklubb Fasching, Stockholm, on March 18, 2010, along Will Vinson (saxophone, piano), Joe Martin (bass), and Mark Ferber (drums). The two sets included most material from Kreisberg’s latest album of originals “The South of Everywhere” (2007, Mel Bay Records) and pieces from his Criss Cross 2009 ballads album “Night Songs”. Kreisberg demonstrated very strong playing and virtuosity, feeling at home just about everywhere on the neck of his hollow Gibson guitar. A taster can be seen in this video -recorded on the Canon EOS 7D and EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens- also featuring fellow drumer Ferber raising to the occassion. Photographs taken during the concert can be accessed from the the link under the photo gallery on the left side bar.