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October 4 , 2013

Reviews of the Week

The Guardian’s Andrew Clements applauds András Schiff’s choice of period instruments as well as his interpretive powers on the pianist’s recording of the Diabelli Variationen

Both discs are enthralling. In the sleeve notes Schiff makes an eloquent case for resisting what he sees as the ‘globalisation’ of piano music, in which everything is played on a Steinway. […] Anyone who heard the Wigmore recitals will recognise the cool clarity of the sound the Bechstein makes and the elegance Schiff achieves with it, whether in the transcendence of the last movement of Op 111 or the quicksilver changes of mood in the variations, but it’s the version of the Diabelli on the 19th-century instrument that is the more remarkable.
That performance revels in the very lack of homogeneity in the soundworld of the instrument itself, with its distinctly different character in each register, and with the ability to change those characteristics using the four pedals. Balances and perspectives shift constantly within the music, and Schiff exploits the effects quite wonderfuly – thinning the sound to a silvery thread with the una corda pedal, producing a wonderfully veiled quality in the middle registers with the moderator, or a snarling buzz in the bass with the bassoon. The whole world of the variations opens out.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian

A German reviewer is intrigued by the concept behind the box set Selected Signs - Music selected for the exhibition ECM - A Cultural Archaeology at Haus der Kunst Munich

Mit diesem Projekt zeigten die Kuratoren der Ausstellung, welch vielschichtige Dimensionen sich mit dem Plattenlabel öffnen. Für die Ausstellung stellten der Produzent Manfred Eicher und Steve Lake eine spezielle Musikauswahl zusammen, welche die diversen Strömungen des Labels zusammenführt. […] Die ersten drei der mit römischen Ziffern gekennzeichneten Platten konzentrieren sich stärker auf den klassischen Part des Labels, die anderen drei heben auf die improvisierte Musik ab. Für den Hörer ist dies die perfekte Einladung, sich auf diverse musikalische Welten einzulassen. Dabei sind die gestalterischen Parallelen unverkennbar. […] ‚Selected Signs III-VIII’ sind ein Festmahl für die Fantasie und regen analog zur Ausstellung dazu an, das Bewusstsein für Musik, Bilder und Filme zu schärfen.
Gerd Filtgen, Stereo

BBC Music Magazine hails Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow’s first common ECM album Trios with a five-star review
This record, her first for ECM, is a retrospective take on pieces written for different formats re-imagined for her trio of 20 years standing. With producer Manfred Eicher at the studio controls, it’s a match made in chamber jazz heaven. Eicher chose the tunes and his influence is there from the opener ‘Utviklingssang’.
Gary Booth; BBC Music Magazine

British media are thrilled by the interplay of John Abercrombie and Marc Copland on 39 Steps by the John Abercrombie Quartet

The emphasis is on subtle intrigue, flowing lyricism and the interplay between the leader’s warm, cleanly articulated guitar and Marc Copland’s piano [...] With bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey Baron equally supple and sinewy copanions, each track is an understated delight.
Mike Hobart, Financial Times

Although US guitarist John Abercrombie has appeared on over 50 ECM albums, both as leader and sideman for the likes of Charles Lloyd, Jan Garbarek, Enrico Rava and Kenny Wheeler, his pianist here, Marc Copland, has not recorded for the label before. Their musical approaches, however, are supremely compatible, Copland remarking: ‘If I played guitar I would want to sound like him. We’re both into listening, approaching harmonies in a certain way, playing lyrically as well as swinging ...’
This last phrase perfectly describes the music on ‘39 Steps’, seven Abercrombie compositions, two by Copland, a collective improvisation (which continues the Hitchcock theme by being entitled ‘Shadow of a Doubt’) and an intriguing closer, a caught-in-a-strobe-light deconstruction of the Burnett/Norton classic ‘Melancholy Baby’.
Underpinning, embellishing and occasionally driving the thoughtful yet always powerful playing of Copland and Abercrombie is one of the subtlest, most musicianly rhythm sections in the music: bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey Baron. [...] Both Abercrombie and Copland are unhurried, thoughtful players, their solos impeccably tasteful but surprisingly robust, and the entire album simply exudes class, elegance and assurance – a flawless recording from four masters of the craft at the top of their game.
Chris Parker, London Jazz

Shadow Man, the new album by Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, is welcomed in U.S. publications

An impressive showcase for Mr. Berne’s precisely gnarled ensemble writing – and for themusicians resourceful and alert enough to make it work.
Nate Chinen, The New York Times

Berne on alto saxophone, Oscar Noriega on clarinets, Matt Mitchell on piano, and Ches Smith on assorted drums, gongs, and vibes deliver half a dozen tunes -- five originals (that range from middle length to exceptionally long) and a deeply moving reading of Paul Motian's ‘Psalm’ -- with striking originality and a deepened focus on dialogue and exchange. Berne's writing is intensely detailed, and never more so than here. He writes motifs and frames that are designed to be lyrical yet open to dialogic improvisational opportunities. [...] Shadow Man's experiment, in trying to capture Snakeoil's live performance in detail and dynamic, is not only successful, it reveals this band at a peak of instinctive, intuitive creativity and imagination.
Thom Jurek, All Music

‘Shadow Man’ unfold organically, its main themes cropping up and blurring the lines between improvisation and composition. There’s somehting for everyone. Longtime Berne fans will delight in the group’s unrepentant fits and starts while Snakeoil converts will relish the thoughtful compositions.
Robert Miburn, The New York City Jazz Record

Acclaim from England and Portugal for Ralph Alessi's Baida

On these 10 pieces he sounds quietly wired and fascinated by what his partners are firing at him, while not remotely detached from his signature virtues of tonal purity and unflustered invention. All the pieces are his, from the initially free-fluttering title track with its soft trumpet doodles over slow-moving piano and percussion, through the delicately prancing ‘Chuck Barris’, to the weaving ‘Throwing Like a Girl’ with its shivery snare-drum tattoo and prodding piano lines. Moran is as attuned to his surroundings as ever, Gress and Waits keep the pressure up but not the volume, and occasionally the whole set sounds eerily like the mid-60s Miles Davis quintet reinvented as a shyly slinky, contemporary-cool-jazz tribute.
John Fordham, The Guardian

Baida, estreia discográfica do trompetista na ECM, label que garante de imediato uma mauor visibilidade mediática produçáo conferem à música de Alessi uma claerza que a faz brilhar, flutuar e explodir em todas as direcções.
(Baida is the record debut of the trumpeter on the ECM label, which guarantees an immediate greater media visibility and whose production values give the music of Alessi a clarity that makes it shine, float and explode in all directions).
Daniel Neves, Público