This Summer I've been enjoying playing in Australia, Japan, and am looking forward to playing with friends in France in July. But perhaps the biggest events for me this year will be my rendition of Keith Jarrett's Köln concert on 15th August in Edinburgh, and the warm up gig on July 14th in Gospel Oak, London.
Those of you who know me, will know the importance I place on Keith's incredible contribution to music, and I've spent many hours dedicated to knowing his work from the inside and the outside.
The Köln Concert is a live recording of solo piano improvisations performed by Keith Jarrett at the Opera House in Cologne on 24th January 1975. The double-vinyl album was released in the autumn of 1975 by ECM Records and went on to become the best-selling solo album in jazz history, and the all-time best-selling piano album with sales of more than 3.5 million.
These concerts will be a recital of the Kishinami/Yamashita transcription, creating an unusual chance to hear a vivid interpretation from an improvisor’s perspective.
Here is a piano concert unlike any other. It’s like a jazz piano concert but it’s not improvised. It’s solo piano music but it has grooves, riffs, and song-form chord changes, like jazz or rock. It is steeped in the German classical piano tradition like a big sonata by Schubert or an emotionally programmatic journey through the soul like a Mahler symphony. But it could only come from the USA. Fearlessly eclectic, one might think of it like an Ives piano sonata and yet it obviously inhabits the jazz, folk, rock, blues landscape of American music, which is essentially improvised.
So can this spontaneity be achieved without improvising? Can an interpreter bring a transcription of improvised music to life? If so, what can they bring to the music that isn’t already there in the original recording?
You can buy tickets directly from the Edinburgh Fringe Box Office https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/the-koln-concert-concert or by phoning +44 (0)131 226 0000.
Below are some notes I wrote to accompany a performance I gave of the work in 2018. Happy reading!
Wanted to share this bit of footage from a dress rehearsal back in November. Playing Keith Jarrett's My Song with Nick Haywood on double bass and Hamish Stuart on drums.
But when is music “Music”? Perhaps it would be best not to aim so high and be content with just making music (so to speak). Nevertheless I am keen to find the right balance between the formal/informal (or art/popular) when performing or indeed practicing piano. So in this somewhat formal situation of a recital I would like to actually play (or maybe perform) what I practice. What do I practice? It’s a combination of notated, semi-notated (chord structures and melodies) and freely improvised (metric and non-metric, tonal and atonal) music: Interpretations, renditions and improvisations. Tonight will include Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Prokofiev, Schoenberg and songs from folk music and the American Songbook. The choice of what to play and when will be somewhat free flowing: to paraphrase Miles Davis, I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later. I aspire to the condition of Charles Ives’ music (articulately described below by pianist Tamara Stefanovich) but fully appreciate that it may never be realised!
I'll be playing this solo piano recital on 6th December 2016 at Burgh House, Hampstead.
I'm very much looking forward to playing in Australia and Japan with artist Tim Maguire and bassist Mao Yamada in November 2017. We'll be playing at Tim's show in Newcastle, Beppu Art Month in Japan, as well as other dates in both countries.
detail from Tim Maguire's Kinglake Panorama. See more of Tim's work at www.tim-maguire.com
Over the last eight weeks I've been collaborating with a talented and inspirational group of choreographers, performers and musicians, including choreographers and dancers Bethan Peters, Maria Ghoumrassi; percussionist/vocalist Jimmy Cannon; and vocalist Natasha Lohan on a project culminating in a performance at the National Maritime Museum. Entitled 'We May Be Some Time,' it was part of Travellers Tales, and Greenwich Dances 2016. A dancer's own internal narrative and natural process of repeating and transforming motifs and gestures is in direct communication with the improvising musician and this needn't be something esoteric and abstract at all. Included were sea shanties, tonal and groove based improvisations and atonal and non-metric playing too, as well as free group singing and intoning. Just before we started our performance, Matt, one of the dancers said, 'Keep looking.' It was a note to the dancers, but I found myself looking and listening with equal intention, and re-discovering how a point in space is the same whether you see it or hear it. Moments of silence and stillness carry almost more importance than the impulse to move and make noise. I'm reminded that to prepare for the unprepared, requires a lot of preparation.
Delighted to be included in Yasukuni Terashima's popular CD series Jazz Bar. My trio's version of Sleep Safe and Warm sits alongside a fantastic roster of artists, with contributions from Palle Danielsson, Joe La Barbera, and John Guerin amongst many others on Yasukuni Terashima's Jazz Bar 2015, put out by DiskUnion. Japanese friends, check it out.
Looking forward to presenting my collaboration with visual artist Tim Maguire. We've made a DVD featuring his video art and my solo piano improvisations.
This is my first solo piano recording since 2002, and so I'm supposed to say what is 'new' and 'different' about this recording in comparison. Perhaps talk about how I've been influenced by developments in music and how my approach to improvising freely at the piano has changed with these developments. And at the very least, if my appoach, conception and method have stayed the same, how my technique has evolved and so on.
But what I really think I'm doing is playing so I can remember what is important. Or remember what is important to me at any rate.
To The Surface will be performed with live piano improvisation and projected film from the DVD on November 22nd at St James Studio Theatre at 3pm.
I'm in the process of putting together three albums, one of which will be from my quartet's gigs in July this year. Here are some unmixed tunes
Dorian Ford, piano, Fulvio Sigurtá (trumpet/flugelhorn), Steve Rose (double bass), Winston Clifford (drums)
A picture from my Summer St James Theatre gig with the quartet. Pictured are Fulvio Sigurtá (trumpet), Steve Rose (double bass), Winston Clifford (drums) and me on piano.
A long time in the making, this live double album, was a family affair, with art work by Carol's daughter Kasia, recording and mixing by my brother in law Jono Trott, and mastering by Carol's long time friend, Mark Hewins, a regular feature on tour with Lou Reed.
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