Pianist Keith Jarrett, one of the most important figures in jazz of the last 50 years, has been curiously invisible since his last performance in February 2017 at New York's Carnegie Hall. He has now revealed the reason for his silence in a New York Times interview with Nate Chinen: Jarrett suffered two strokes in 2018 that have likely permanently derailed his ability to perform in public.
Jarrett, 75, told Chinen that since being afflicted by the strokes in February and May of 2018, he is partially paralyzed on his left side. The second stroke resulted in a 10-month stay in a nursing facility. Jarrett has since relearned to walk with a cane but has only occasionally attempted to play the piano; in a recent attempt, he discovered that he had forgotten some staple tunes of the bebop repertoire.
"I can only play with my right hand, and it's not convincing me anymore," Jarrett told Chinen. "I don't know what my future is supposed to be, [but] I don't feel right now like I'm a pianist."
Chinen also conducted the most recent JazzTimes interview with Jarrett, in 2017. At that time, the pianist discussed a late-1990s struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome that had nearly destroyed his career. "I just found myself too tired to do anything I normally do. I thought I was dying," he said. "I didn't know if I'd play again." In that case, Jarrett recovered sufficiently to launch a renaissance in 1999.
Jarrett's newest release, the forthcoming Budapest Concert, documents a solo performance from his 2016 European tour. It will be released October 30 on ECM Records. Keith Jarrett (photo: Woong Chul An)
READ THE FULL JazzTimes ARTICLE
What a pick-me-up this album is. Released as the days darken, literally and metaphorically, it's a real joy – a transport of delight to dappled squares in Paris or Lisbon, or a street party in Rio. Sunset in the Blue is billed as "an orchestral celebration of Melody Gardot's jazz roots" but the abiding sound that remains in the mind's ear after the album's finished is that of a jazz guitar, played with a bossa nova rhythm.
This is Gardot's fifth album in twelve years, a mix of standards and originals in which her voice is close-miked and properly out front in the mix.
Most of the set was recorded pre-lockdown in LA's famed Capitol Records Studios with a creative team that included Larry Klein and Vince Mendoza, trumpeter Till Bronner and guitarist Anthony Wilson among the players. "From Paris With Love" features some forty musicians from around the world who answered Gardot's call, made on 1 May, International Jazz Day, for a virtual orchestra to play away the lockdown blues. All were paid according to union scale and the result is musically rewarding – shout-outs to the pianist and solo fiddler. "Ave" finds Gardot born aloft above orchestral cross-rhythms, while "Moon River" takes us back to the Audrey Hepburn original, a lazy arch-top guitar with strings and percussion in the background. Gardot's vocal is of course not tentative – she is no Holly Golightly after all! "Fall in Love too Easily" is really rather exquisite. The physical album contains a bonus track, "Little Something", a duet with Sting.
READ THE FULL artsdesk REVIEW
With the abundance of jazz and blues that slides into my mailbox every week, it's sometimes easy to forget the bustling and beautiful American piano that much of our musical heritage comes from. Don't let words like "heritage" discourage you from diving deep into her boundless piano energy… her performance of Harry Thacker Burleigh's 5:07 "Troubled Water" (based on "Wade In The Water") is full-bodied and moving… this is one of the tunes I believe will be getting some HUGE amounts of airplay on all types of stations around the globe!
I'll tell you right now, you've never heard a more invigorating performance of "Down By the Riverside" than Jeni gives you… she presents some very unique stylings with her keyboard, too.
Of the eighteen enchanting songs presented, I found the 6:40 opener, "Deep River", to be my choice for personal favorite… Jeni's piano covers all the bases… jazz, blues and even Tchaikovsky in one stunning performance of Margaret Bonds beautiful song!
I give Jeni a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) score of 4.98. Get more information on the Zoho Music page for the release. Rotcod Zzaj
SEE THE Contemporary Fusion Reviews PAGE
Ron Davis. Piano player, composer, band leader, Edinburgh Festival Fringe favourite, BBC Radio 3 repeat guest, solo artist, critics choice has released; SymphRONica - UPFRONT. Ron and his band of award-winning musicians have kept people listening, loving and coming back for more.
Ron's music blends genres and pushes boundaries. It builds on his jazz and classical training, influenced by world music (klezmer, Hungarian, Italian, Brazilian, Latin). He seeks new textures, new forms, new compositions, new formations and new ways of presenting his signature sound. The music is diverse in a characteristically Canadian way. Ron is the founder of SymphRONica, the creative project that combines jazz, world, groove, pop, classical music and a stellar group of Canadian musicians into a mix that can be found nowhere else. In Ron's words "Just as Toronto is a city composed of many people from many places, SymphRONica is composed of a group of musicians from diverse backgrounds, and every one of them plays with intense passion and pleasure together." SymphRONica is genre-defying – no one else is combining a jazz ensemble with full symphony orchestras or string quartets.
Davis spoke with 97.3/107.9 Estero Bay Radio's ( CA ) Abe Pearlstein about the new recording and his great career. Listen to the attached interview.
As we near the election, with hope of setting the country on a better path, tensions are high. We are worried that if things go wrong, as they did in 2016, that the country might never recover, that this horror show might become our permanent identity. And meanwhile, most of the things we would turn to in times of crisis – family gatherings, concerts, baseball games, theatre – are not available to us, making everything even more difficult and dire. But fortunately musicians continue to release albums that speak to the better parts of us, to what humanity remains inside, uniting us in a real way. Here are some brief notes on a few new jazz releases you might be interested in.
Accomplished classical pianist Jeni Slotchiver presents the work of several American composers on her new release, American Heritage, an album of solo piano pieces. The music includes spirituals, blues, and folk, all performed with passion and heart. This is a beautiful and moving album, and in a time of division and hatred in our country, it provides a welcome look back at some of the diverse composers who have added to the great musical culture of our nation, and might help to restore some pride in our history. Composers whose work is featured here include Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Margaret Bonds, Harry Thacker Burleigh, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Florence B. Price, Robert Nathaniel Dett, William Grant Still and Frederic Rzewski. A lot of the music chosen for this release will be familiar to you, and Jeni Slotchiver gives it a fresh life. This album was released on October 9, 2020.
SEE Michael Doherty's Music Log PAGE
JUNO and SOCAN Music Award winner Laila Biali celebrates Canadian icon Joni Mitchell's birthday with an intimate cover of Mitchell's beloved song, "Both Sides Now". Biali's stripped down approach illuminates poignant lyrics that speak to the heart. Multi-award winning singer-songwriter and pianist Laila Biali has performed on prestigious stages from New York City's Carnegie Hall to Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts. Known for her signature sound that "masterfully mixes jazz and pop" (Washington Post), Biali has received top honors including a 2020 SOCAN Music Songwriting Award plus the 2019 JUNO (Canada's GRAMMY) for Vocal Jazz Album. She has also toured with pop icon, Sting, and hosts a national radio show on CBC Music. Be sure to check out Laila's Quarantunes Series, and head to Both Sides Now to pre-save your copy now!
Biali is KBOG'S favorite songstress. SEE THE KBOG: Bandon OR PAGE
For her latest studio album, pianist Hélène Grimaud travels to Salzburg where she creates a fascinating juxtaposition between the eternal Mozart and the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937). Hélène has long had a passion for Silvestrov's music, which some call post-modernist or even neoclassical. The composer's own words hint at why this is for her so intriguing: "I do not write new music. My music is a response to and an echo of what already exists."
In selecting the music for this album, Hélène has carefully chosen music by Mozart that fits into an overall dramaturgy: from Mozart's famous unfinished D minor Fantasy, Helene transitions seamlessly into the great D minor concerto K. 466 - one of the most popular amongst Mozart's 27 concertos (and one of only two in a minor key). The C minor Fantasy here signals "the end of Mozart" and a new beginning: The Messenger starts with a theme reminiscent of Mozart, and like a messenger, creates a connection between the present and the world that existed before. Melancholy and hope, sadness and exuberance can be felt emanating from both Mozart's and Silvestrov's works. The Messenger, one of Silvestrov's most performed works, is dedicated to his wife Larissa Bondarenko, who had recently passed away. The Two Dialogues with Postscript that serve here as an epilogue, leave the outcome open, leading the way to Schubert, Wagner and beyond.
"When I first heard it, I was mesmerized," is how Grimaud describes the first time she heard Valentin Silvestrov's music. ECM Records founder Manfred Eichner gave her a CD of Silvestrov as a birthday present, and she was hooked. Grimaud talks about her newest album (of over 20!) with 90.5WUOL: Louisville KY - Daniel Gilliam. LISTEN
WaterTower Music is pleased to announce today's release of the 62-track Lovecraft Country (Soundtrack from the HBO® Original Series), featuring music from the first season of Lovecraft Country, which airs on HBO/ HBO Max, and is Based on Matt Ruff 's novel of the same name.
Inspired by the ground-breaking mission of NASA's Juno space probe and its ongoing exploration of Jupiter, Juno to Jupiter is a multi-dimensional musical journey through electronic, progressive, ambient, techno, orchestral, and vocal music.
Milan Records today announces the release of Luca Guadagnino's WE ARE WHO WE ARE (ORIGINAL SERIES SCORE) featuring music by producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter and vocalist DEVONTÉ HYNES.
For 20 years, Lang Lang resisted playing Bach?s 'Goldberg' Variations. Now he?s releasing two recordings of the work / The New York Times
Posted: August 21, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Habits are hard to break. That's one reason people are still asking "How's it going?" during a world-upending pandemic. A similarly reflexive "Fine" often follows, which is why it was so jarring when, during a recent interview, the pianist Lang Lang responded with a wince and shouted: "It's horrible!"
This is a difficult time for everyone in classical music, as in-person performances have all but come to a halt worldwide. Mr. Lang, one of the industry's biggest stars and moneymakers, is relatively safe from financial devastation. But being sidelined by forces beyond his control is painfully familiar to him. He injured his left arm in 2017, and the recovery put him out of commission for more than a year.
"I've had a break already," Mr. Lang, 38, said over Zoom from his home in Shanghai. "This time, I'm so ready, but I cannot play a concert. That's much more frustrating."
Mr. Lang's return from his injury has been incremental, starting with less muscular fare than the Romantic war horses that made him famous, then building back toward those thunderous concertos - while also weaving in new repertoire. This year was meant to focus on a major project for him: a tour of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations and a recording of the work on Deutsche Grammophon, out next month.
He made it three stops into the tour, all in Germany, before the rest was canceled. But before leaving, he made a studio recording of the "Goldbergs" in Berlin and a live one at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, where Bach worked.
Both versions will be on the coming release. That wasn't always the plan, Mr. Lang said, but he pushed to include the live performance after listening to it and finding that he appreciated its spontaneity and "floating" nature. Still, he added, he prefers the studio recording, which he believes shows more depth.
Few works elicit more varied interpretations than the "Goldbergs." Performers bring personal touches to repertory staples like concertos by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, but on balance those works have a consistent running time and a generally agreed upon sound. But Bach's set of 30 variations, surrounded by two iterations of an Aria of music-box simplicity, is written with such austerity that it's something of a blank canvas. There is no rule book for ornamentation; virtually absent tempo markings mean it can last less than an hour or, in the case of Mr. Lang's reading, more than 90 minutes. It can be heard on harpsichords or modern pianos, or even transcribed for other instruments.
Despite being an audience favorite, Mr. Lang has long left critics scratching their heads over his undeniable skill and his questionable taste, his expressiveness and his pop star mannerisms. And he will yet again divide listeners with his "Goldbergs." Baroque specialists in particular may bristle at his occasionally counterintuitive voicing, with unconventional emphasis on particular notes and phrases, and his rubato - rhythmic manipulation that sometimes pushes the meter toward unrecognizability. The slow 25th variation, which typically lasts six or seven minutes, is here stretched beyond 10; Mr. Lang's studio version of the closing Aria is nearly six and a half minutes long, while most pianists stay shy of four.
But regardless what people think about Mr. Lang's interpretation, they cannot write it off as unconsidered. It's deeply felt and two decades in the making.
Like all piano students, Mr. Lang played a lot of Bach as a child, from the easy minuets to the encyclopedic "Well-Tempered Clavier." He used fast sections of the "Goldbergs" for exercises, but didn't perform the work in its entirety until, after coming to stardom as a substitute at the Ravinia Festival near Chicago in 1999, he recounted it from memory in the middle of the night for some fellow musicians.
Mr. Lang said he didn't want to publicly share his "Goldbergs" until the moment felt right. In his mid-20s, he played the work for the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt during an informal audition for the Salzburg Festival. He recalled Harnoncourt saying, "You play Bach with no imagination," urging him to play with fewer reservations and more lyrical melodic lines.
"He started singing the theme of Variation 3, and I was like, wow, can Bach be played this Romantic?" Mr. Lang said. "I was quite overwhelmed by his emotions."
Mr. Lang has since sought advice from other artists, including the German pianist and harpsichordist Andreas Staier, who taught him the importance of approaching the "Goldbergs" with scholarly rigor. Learning the piece, Mr. Lang said, has improved his understanding of composition, and of music itself.
"It takes you to another level of thinking," he said.
With his copy of the score in hand, Mr. Lang discussed what he has learned about the "Goldbergs," and how he arrived at his interpretation. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Your career was made with Romantic concertos, but lately you've worked backward in time, now to the Baroque. Does this style come naturally to you?
It does, but I've played it much less than the Romantic or Classical repertoire. And Bach is another planet. When I met Andreas [Staier], he told me this piece needs to have a real knowledge behind the strategy. You cannot think about this as a 10-minute or a 30-minute piece or concerto. You have to hold your cards in your hands and not throw your cards at the same time. He said I had to learn each variation with a kind of calm temperament, and not get overheated on Variation 1.
What has guided your interpretation?
This is an entire piece, but at the same time it's separate pieces. In that way, each of the variations has to have a calculated way of playing. You cannot play everything the same way.
I feel like you're most personal in the rubato and ornamentation. Those can be difficult to balance, and Baroque rules can be very particular. How did you find what works for you?
With rubato, it's the theory of the roots of the tree and the leaves going up. In this case, the left hand is not always the roots in Bach's music. In the Aria it is, but in other variations, maybe it's the middle voice. But you always need to find where the roots are, and those need to be steady. Then the melodic line can be a little different. I realized doing some of my studio recording, sometimes I gave a lot of rubato and had to come back, because then it can fall apart very easily. You can hear that you're losing the pulse.
You play as little ornamentation as possible the first time through. [Each section of the "Goldbergs" is divided into two parts that are both repeated.] Then on the repeat you can do ornamentation to give it a little bit of improvisational style. If it sounds like everything is planned, the ornamentation loses its real meaning. Sometimes, you can even add a few chords here and there to make it a little more colorful. In the French overture, Variation 16, I try to make it more like an organ piece, so I add a little more lower voice. But we have to be careful to not have strange ornamentation that sounds like Messiaen or something. Some of my ornamentation was corrected by Baroque musicians.
Let's talk about some specific sections. The Aria is a perfect example of how the "Goldbergs" can be played any number of ways.
I intended to play slightly slower than other musicians, especially in the studio. It gives me a quietness, slightly more space. But obviously it needs to be legato. If I can really connect each note, then I can play slower because it gives me a grounded feeling.
And Variation 7, the gigue, is a place where you seem to really loosen up.
For the repeat, I played the chords, the sixth and the third, under the main voice. This is what I learned from the Baroque way of playing. They often add lower sixth and lower third to make it like a bell sound. It's more notes, but actually a lighter feel. This is the character of the piece. It needs to bubble.
The 26th variation seems like one of the trickiest. You have to decide whether to emphasize those effervescent runs or the dancing melody.
I was always playing this as an exercise as a kid. This is maybe the most difficult variation, technically. You can actually play around with it each time, with a different priority - sometimes more on the left hand, or more on the right hand. But if you do that, you'd better stay with your choice two bars, or four. Don't switch too fast.
For an open-ended section like this, do you consult with older recordings or artists?
Especially on this one, I got a huge inspiration from Glenn Gould. He is someone who is not afraid to play fast passages really fast. I think that's why people like his "Goldberg" Variations. It has such an inspired character. He gave me the confidence that some parts can be very exciting; you can just let it go.
What does the return of the Aria at the end mean for you?
Variation 30 is the most important connection for me. It's a combination of three popular songs, German folk songs. I copied the lyrics, and the third is about home. This created a great transition to the Aria. And without this variation I think the Aria would be so much harder to play, after those fireworks: After the Adagio, Variation 25, you have four variations that are fast and virtuosic. It's just impossible to get back to the Aria. But when you have this family reunion song in the 30th, you suddenly realize that you are getting older.
The truth is, we don't need to think too much to play the Aria this second time. It's already different, automatically, no matter what you do. After certain things, you're changed. You don't need to say it; you just are. PHOTO: Stefan Hoederath
"This is a very important dream-come-true moment", says Lang Lang. The superstar pianist, who waited 20 years before playing Johann Sebastian Bach's monumental composition in public, has finally achieved his goal of recording the Goldberg Variations. The result of two decades of deep study and personal reflection, his vision of Bach's Aria and 30 Variations is out now onDeutsche Grammophon.
One of the world's biggest classical stars, Lang Lang, returns with his brand new solo album ‘Piano Book' – a collection of pieces which first inspired him to play the piano and led him on his path to international stardom. The recording, his first new studio album in three years, marks his return to Universal Music Group and Deutsche Grammophon – the label he first signed to in 2003.
Lang Lang says: "I want to take every music lover on a journey through my favourite piano pieces. I hope to inspire as well as motivate every piano student to remain focused during daily practice, and to play and understand these essential pieces for what they really are: true masterpieces!"
‘Piano Book' gathers together many of the miniatures that generations of amateur pianists have grown up with. Lang Lang holds them in the highest regard, believing them to be classics in their own right. He wants to encourage piano students across the world to fully appreciate them.
The ineffable magic of New York City fires the imagination of superstar pianist Lang Lang on his new album New York Rhapsody (Sony Classical) available September 16, 2016. He is joined by a wide array of special guests including Andra Day, Herbie Hancock, Jason Isbell, Jeffrey Wright, Kandace Springs, Lindsey Stirling, Lisa Fischer, Madeleine Peyroux andSean Jones.From the haunting reveries of Gershwin and Copland to the in-the-moment intensity of songs made famous by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, Lou Reed and Don Henley, New York Rhapsody rediscovers the dazzle and the soul of America's most symbolic city. Following the release of the album, a star-studded concert special Live From Lincoln Center will air on PBS on November 25, 2016 as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival. The video for "Empire State of Mind" with Lang Lang and singer Andra Day premiered on Town & Country.
14 NEW 122 TOTAL
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Ever since his first visit to the magical space that is the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, Lang Lang had dreamed of performing there. When his dream came to fruition in the form of a special recital on June 22, 2015 he chose Chopin's four momentous Scherzi and Tchaikovsky's rare but masterly cycle The Seasons to present to his audience. A studio recording of the repertoire was made in the Salle Liebermann at the Opéra Bastille and the live concert was filmed in 4K in the Hall of Mirrors for release on DVD and Blu-ray.
Sony Classical is delighted to announce Lang Lang's first albumentirely devoted to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozartavailable September 30. World renowned pianist, Lang Lang, will be joined by the legendary Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Harnoncourt is famous for his ability to match deep knowledge of 17th and 18th century musical language with an interpretative mind of outstanding originality.
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The world's best-selling pianist, Lang Lang, joins one of the most renowned orchestras, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle for Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto and Bartók's Second Piano Concerto.
'I've wanted to record with Maestro Rattle and his orchestra for a long time. The Berliner Philharmoniker is extraordinary to work with – the winds and brass are from a different planet and Sir Simon creates a depth of tone with the orchestra, particularly when playing quietly, that's unique. Some of my happiest musical experiences have taken place with this orchestra. We performed the Prokofiev 3 in 2007 in Salzburg and I gave four performances of the Bartók 2 earlier this year with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Both works have such life and such rhythmic vitality that to my ears they sound absolutely contemporary. I believe these concertos have a musical relevance that's absolutely right for our time," - Lang Lang
14 New 'ON' this week 115 Total
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Sony Classical is proud to announce its debut release "Live In Vienna" from one of the most thrilling and inspiring musicians of our time, the world-renowned pianist Lang Lang. Recorded and filmed live in Vienna's legendary Musikverein concert hall, the Sony Classical debut will be available on August 24 in multiple formats. This release represents Lang Lang's second live recorded recital to date after the best-selling "Live at Carnegie Hall" in 2004, which marked his international breakthrough as a recording artist. He has performed the new album's program at the world's major concert venues and will continue to tour with it throughout 2011.
12 New 'ON' this week: 116 Total
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