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April 5 , 2013

Reviews of the Week

Hagar's Song, the duo recording by Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran, is acclaimed in the United States

Lloyd and Moran are sympathetic partners in reworking jazz standards, as with a contemplative take on Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Pretty Girl’ and a slippery run through Duke Ellington’s ‘Mood Indigo’ that rolls out of a bluesy turn from Moran. A pair of modern pop classics close the record in a shimmering tribute to the Band’s Levon Helm with ‘I Shall Be Released’ and a sensitively drawn run through the Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’. But Lloyd’s own compositional voice often shines brightest, such as with the abstract rumble of ‘Pictogram’ and the rich, five-part ‘Hagar Suite’, which features the disc’s most atmospheric moments with the saxophonist switching to flute as Moran matches him each step of the way.
Chris Barton, L.A. Times

The unique give-and-take between Lloyd and Moran comes into bold relief on Hagar’s Song, their first duo album following three with the quartet, the last of which also featured Greek singer Maria Farantouri. Lloyd, who turned 75 in March, and Moran, 38, couldn’t have more different artistic resolutions: The saxophonist thrives on a centered, spiritually driven, Zen-like approach, sticking close to melodies that he worries with slippery arpeggios and sudden thickenings of tone, while the pianist is a rhythmically driven innovator with an appetite for music from all eras and genres. What Lloyd and Moran share is an unerring ability to get to the emotional heart of a song, and that’s where their contrasting attacks converge, whether plugging into the the bluesy melancholy of Billie Holiday staple ‘You’ve Changed’ or stepping out freestyle on Earl Hines’ ‘Rosetta’, wich Lloyd heats with streaming notes and Moran lifts with buoyant, Hines-like clusters. ‘Hagar’s Song’ is essentially two albums in one: a selection of smartly reworked jazz standards and pop classics, and a nearly 30-minute tone poem, Hagar Suite.
Lloyd Sachs, Jazz Times

American critics praise Wislawa by the newly formed Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet

Some projects deserve two CDs. Here’s a new group celebrating its brilliant chemistry over the course of a double-disc set, with no flagging in interest, personality or vitality. The towering figure of Polish jazz, Tomasz Stanko has succeeded in establishing himself as a trumpeter to reckon with on the world stage. Together with three terrific New Yorkers, he’s on the front of one of his greatest bands. [...] Stanko’s playing has never sounded better. Possessed of a soft sound, his signature is a vortical altissimo shriek, never out of control but quite effectively alarming. Down in natural range, he’s got a dark tone well suited to the smoky emotional tenor of the music. He is economical but not perversely restrained. To hear him articulate one of his open-tempo ballads is to hear him enter the zone.
John Corbett, Downbeat

...the eminent Polish trumpeter never had a rhythm section that could give his music the lift, flexibility and soulful grounding he gets from pianist David Virelles, bassist Thomas Morgan and Drummer Gerald Cleaver in his New York Quartet. Of course he’s never required their brand of support before, having for much of his career devoted himself to moody, slow-moving , thickly atmospheric pieces. What makes Wislawa (pronounced vees-WAH-vah) striking is Stanko’s ability to push into a more assertive, wide-awake style, rhythmically as welll as melodically, without sacrificing the dark-glowing, middle of the night emotion for which he’s known. [...] Having opened a new chapter with his edgy, textured 2009 album ,Dark Eyes, he writes an even more entrancing story with Wislawa.
Lloyd Sachs, Jazz Times

American magazine Jazz Times on the new CD issue of Keith Jarrett's Hymns Spheres

Keith Jarrett was only a year removed from The Köln Concert – which became the best-selling album in jazz history to that time – when in 1976 he released Hymns/Spheres, a two-LP solo album recorded on the Karl Joseph Riepp ‘Trinity’ Baroque pipe organ at the Benedictine Abbey in Ottobeuren, Germany. This new two-CD reissue marks the first time that ECM has released the recording in its entirety on compact disc. [...] Jarrett’s facility on the instrument is mighty, and his classical sensibility is unimpeachable. The program consists of the nine-movement Spheres bookended by ‘Hymn of Remembrance’ and ‘Hymn of Release’, all of it unfolding slowly and orchestrally: Jarrett obviously enjoys the instrument’s capability to fill the cavernous basilica, and milks all available sonic features. The end result is stately music that serves to add to our admiration of him as an indefatigably intrepid artist.
Jeff Tamarkin, Jazz Times

The Reinventions by Stefano Scodanibbio, recorded by the Quartetto Prometeo, are reviewed in Germany's Neue Musikzeitung

Seine ‚Reinventions’ sind Musik über Musik: mit großem Einfühlungsvermögen und Fantasie verfertigte Instrumentationen und Neulektüren von Stücken aus Bachs Kunst der Fuge bi s zu volkstümlichen Melodien spanischer und mexikanischer Herkunft. Eine leicht schwermütige Poesie liegt über den zerbrechlichen, obertonreichen Stücken.
Max Nyffeler, Neue Musikzeitung

The music of Victor Kissine, as recorded on Between Two Waves by Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica, enchants a reviewer in Germany

Der St. Petersburger Komponist versteht es, mit kargen Mitteln eine magische Atmosphäre herbeizuzaubern. In ‚Between Two Waves’ deuten sich die fragilen Konturen eines Klavierkonzerts an, in der Barcarola mit der Kremerata Baltica und dem Solisten Gidon Kremer schälen sich unvermittelt einige dramatische Momente aus dem klanglichen ‚Fast-Nichts’ heraus, ein Duo für Viola und Violoncello stellt eine Reflexion über Zeilen von Ossip Mandelstam dar. Kissines ‚couleur locale’ ist nicht illustrativer Art, sondern Ausdruck einer Suche nach dem ungreifbar Geistigen an einem auratischen Ort.
Max Nyffeler, Neue Musikzeitung

Acclaim in America for Anna Gourari's Canto Oscuro

Pianist Anna Gourari belongs among the very best of a growing number of young classical musicians who view making records not as a display of technical and interpretative skill, but as a means of musical exploration. Her recordings are intimate offerings of haunting beauty. […] On her latest CD, Canto Oscuro (Edition of Contemporary Music New Series), Gourari meanders across centuries of music, her selections ranging from Bach to contemporary Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina. Gourari brings to light the inner connections in the pieces she has chosen. The dialogue between the composers is mesmerizing, as is Gourari’s idiosyncratic approach to color, phrasing, and sound. […] Never sentimental, Gourari’s playing has the transcendent quality of prayer. As she proceeds from Bach to Gubaidulina, on to Hindemith, and then back to Bach, the music flows like a conversation in which Bach is both subject and participant. The pianist creates drama by juxtaposing the rarefied simplicity of the opening choral with the complexities of Gubaidulina’s piece, which introduces us to a contemporary aesthetic shrouded in a baroque form.
Allesandro Cassin, The Brooklyn Rail