The large number of musicians at this sold-out show says a lot about the significance of the artist on stage. Craig Taborn is an American pianist held in the greatest respect by his peers, and whose tuition of younger European players, such as Kaja Draksler, has been important. With a body of work for labels like Thirsty Ear, Tzadik and ECM the 48-year-old has kudos, and has appeared in London many times as leader and sideman to the likes of Tim Berne and David Binney. But this solo gig gives a prized opportunity to really enjoy the breadth of his imagination and depth of technique up close and personal. It is a chance to hear a whole range of traditions within the broad church of improvised music filtered by a mind that is very contemporary in outlook.
Though he opts for one long set instead of two shorter ones, Taborn subverts the expected format of the uninterrupted suite. The performance is broken into several pieces that give the evening the feel of a live album instead of drawing room recital, and the downtime between tracks also releases the tension between artist and audience. It underlines Taborn’s affinity to a looser, modern pop culture as well as to the buttoned-up gravitas of high art. The highpoint of the set is a perfect example of these worlds colliding. A lavishly syncopated middle-register riff jockeys and jostles into life to the accompaniment of strikingly hard, curt right-hand stabs, the intonation so sharp and precise it feels as if the notes are being sliced by a cursor on the screen of a laptop rather than by hands on a keyboard. The metronomic push holding all the ugly beauty together implies house and techno in the most vivid terms, reminding us of Taborn’s serious engagement with the electronic dance music scene of Detroit, as well as his avowed interest in state-of-the-art audio software and Macbook arranging.
Prior to that piece there is a dazzling display of orchestral-like composition in which Taborn’s touchstones, from Andrew Hill and Jaki Byard to Cecil Taylor, are evoked and personalised so as to create intricate entwinements of phrases that go off on tangents without ever losing momentum. Many of Taborn’s chords are voiced with an eye-of-the-needle finesse, but he never relinquishes an edginess and awareness of how effective a relatively straightforward shift of harmony can be. In one very compelling moment a mischievously twisted latin number is boiled down to a jittery, hypnotic left-hand riff that is allowed to run for what seems like an age before Taborn jumps down an octave, and the stark surge of bass threatens to shake the piano on stage.
If the muscular rhythmic drive of the songs has everybody in the room rapt, there is also textural invention to admire. Taborn makes timbres hiss and crackle through a smart blend of foot pedal and overtone manipulation to suggest something close to an analogue synthesiser, a kind of unprepared prepared piano. And yet amid this endless stream of ideas there is another crucial episode when Taborn draws an ageless anthem from daringly spaced single notes left to hang in the air with a church bell reverence.
This is a solemn statement, broadening the emotional canvas of the whole evening by conveying vulnerability amid the virtuosity. Taborn ends with a diptych of two of his inspirations: Geri Allen and Sun Ra. It is a marriage made in heaven. Or on Saturn.
– Kevin Le Gendre
– Photo by Roger Thomas
Chamber music champion…
A prolific composer of chamber music with hundreds of works to his name, Boccherini saw the potential of quartet and quintet music and was very much a leading figure in the genre.
Born in Lucca, Boccherini was also a gifted cellist. He studied with Giovanni Costanzi in Rome when he was still a child and at 14 performed in concert in Vienna alongside his father – Leopoldo – a double bassist.
Dowland: The Collected Works
The Consort of Musicke/Rooley
Decca E452 5632
A one-stop shop for Dowland’s major works in 12 authoritative discs.
Complete Lute Music
Nigel North (Lute)
Supple, sensitive and warmly recorded, North’s artful set is a steal at budget price.
The Parley of Instruments
The Parley of Instruments performs Lachrimae as a violin consort, giving the work a brighter edge.
Mark Padmore (tenor), Elizabeth Kenny (lute), Craig Ogden (guitar)
Mark Padmore’s judicious anthology comes with the added bonus of Britten’s guitar tribute to Dowland.
from Classical-Music.com http://www.classical-music.com/article/four-best-john-dowland-recordings
The Southbank Centre announced a new project today, in which newcomers to classical music will be able to attend a concert accompanied by a leading musician or composer, completely free of charge.
Conductor Marin Alsop, percussionist Colin Currie, violinist Nicola Benedetti, pianist Stephen Hough and composers Mark-Anthony Turnage and Nico Muhly are among those who will be involved in this new ‘Encounters’ scheme.
Hundreds of concert newcomers will be invited to attend one of the concerts at the Southbank Centre in its 2019/20 season. They will then, in turn, be asked to invite another concert newcomer with them to the next concert, also free of charge. And each of those second group of invitees will, it is hoped, then do likewise, thus opening the door to a whole new generation of concert 'first-timers'.
The programme will initially be open to charities and local community groups, including Streetwise Opera, the Irene Taylor Trust and Coin Street Community Builders, as well as local businesses.
‘Classical music concerts so often seem like a close door (or several) to those who have never attended one,’ says pianist Stephen Hough. ‘A stuffy private club: elitist, pompous and inaccessible. Encounters is a brilliant, simple idea to destroy this perception and to fling those doors open.’
from Classical-Music.com http://www.classical-music.com/news/first-time-concert-goers-get-star-treatment-southbank
This week’s Artist Of The Week is Emily Mercer! This singer/songwriter from Manchester, creating what she calls “piano-driven jazz-folk”. This lovely mashup works really well, adding fun and bounce to the more ‘traditional’ sonic palette of vocal jazz. The end result is a light, swinging sound that’s rich in musicality and dynamics that’s really easy and enjoyable to listen to. We’ve selected “Trust Me” from Emily’s stellar EP Transparency to showcases not only her sound but her unique and silky smooth voice perfectly: