“A long story” marks the international debut of Israeli-born pianist Anat Fort, in the company of three exceptional improvisers. The opening tune “Just Now” – an almost classical ballad that feels like a standard-in-the-making – demonstrates, right from the outset, Fort’s striking compositional gifts. Her pieces provide her fellow musicians with ample solo space; more crucially they also experiment analytically with different models of musical interaction in the ensemble. Elegantly carved tunes, their boldly melodic contours give way to adventurous improvised playing from all parties, with veteran clarinet innovator Perry Robinson, also making his ECM debut here, in particularly strong form.
Although Anat counts Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and Paul Bley (and “much of the music on ECM”) among her formative influences, her music also subtly but clearly indicates her geographical origins. Born near Tel Aviv she studied classical piano as a child and began writing her own music and improvising from an early age, open to all the musical sounds of her environment. In the mid-1990s she came to the USA to study jazz, wanting to balance a natural tendency towards freer playing with a firm grounding in the tradition. Her teachers have included jazz greats Rufus Reid and Harold Mabern. In the last several years she has been a presence on NYC’s alternative jazz scene, but is also a highly regarded player in her homeland. She now splits her time between Israel and the US. Her most recent commission is the creation of five new arrangements of Israeli music for the Tel Aviv opera house.
The “long story” the album title refers to is more than a metaphor for the sometimes complicated paths music has to take from the composer’s mind to the listener’s ear. It rather concretely denotes the circuitous route by which this quartet – and eventually the record – came into existence. As Anat explains it in her liner notes: “I guess it had to be a long story: from the first time I heard Paul Motian on a Bill Evans record and was blown away I have dreamt of playing with him. Years later I met Ed who had been in many of Paul’s bands and we started playing together. It was around that time when I met Perry, too, and one day it all became clear: I had to make a record with Paul, and I couldn’t think of two better partners than Ed and Perry. I decided to throw the ball and ask him if he would do it. The request was odd, though not unheard of in the jazz world. At that point, Paul has never heard me or my music before, while I felt that through his music, he has been one of my strongest mentors for years.”
Paul Motian: “It was Ed Schuller that called me to take part in Anat Fort's recording. My first reaction was ‘no’ because I didn't know her music. Ed talked me into doing the session and then I was very pleasantly surprised at how great the music was – all Anat's music with a sort of middle Eastern Flavor – I liked the music so much that I recommended it to ECM. And I love the way the album came out!"
Paul Motian who has recorded prolifically for ECM was awarded a “Prix in honorem” from the French Académie Charles Cros in November 2006 for his most recent release, “Garden of Eden” (ECM 1917). Motian is one of the most important and influential drummers in the history of modern jazz – his work with Bill Evans, Paul Bley and Keith Jarrett setting new directions. A new recording of his trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell will be released on ECM in February 2007.
Perry Robinson, born in 1938, has had an exceptionally broad musical experience. He appears on Carla Bley’s “Escalator over the Hill”, recorded with Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, formed his own group with Henry Grimes, recorded with Archie Shepp, followed Paul Desmond in the Dave Brubeck group, and has had a long association with German multi-instrumentalist Gunter Hampel.
Exceptional bassist Ed Schuller has a long history of playing with both Motian (see “Psalm” ECM 1222) and with Robinson: he was for many years a member of the Perry Robinson Quartet.
Anat Fort’s quartet (with Roland Schneider replacing Paul Motian who no longer travels) will be on tour in Europe in February 2007 with concerts in Germany, Switzerland and Austria before continuing to Israel for more shows. A special New York release concert, with the full album line-up, is planned for March.
CD-package includes an illustrated 14-page booklet with liner notes by Anat Fort and Steve Lake.