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Jazz - Verschenen op 23 oktober 2020 | Decca (UMO)

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In 2015, Melody Gardot stepped out of her comfort zone with Currency of Man, an album which suited her entirely but displayed a more soul’n’blues side. That is not to say that her brilliant past efforts were not in keeping with her musical personality, but it was with this record that she confirmed her love for Philadelphia, the town in which she grew up and where groove holds a different meaning.  Five years later, Sunset in the Blue holds all the hallmarks of a return to the singer’s old days which made Melody Gardot’s name. The album is a stripped-back approach to jazz and bossa-nova as imposed by the unexpected circumstances of the year 2020. When the album was beginning development, the pandemic brought a halt to everything an forced the American to rethink the project. She hence proposed that her associates, spread out all over the world, work from a distance. Melody Gardot was based in Paris, her arranger and conductor Vince Mendoza in Los Angeles and the majority of her musicians in England! Despite these constraints, the miracle record was on course for creation which would span a period of roughly five months. And so, Mendoza found himself conducting on-screen from California with musicians playing in London’s Abbey Road Studios (things weren’t made any easier considering the various time-differences). In addition to Mendoza, Melody Grant recruited a set of silky smooth sound connoisseurs who were also instrumental in the success of 2009’s My One and Only Thrill: the producer Larry Klein and sound engineer Al Schmitt.Upon listening to the end result, however, we soon forget the last-minute DIY means with which this album was made. Because throughout Sunset in the Blue, Melody Gardot maintains a fascinatingly solid and intimate direction. Here we see a return to Gardot whispering hypnotically into the ear as she sings amid intermittent piano phrases and guitars. Her voice gracefully lounges upon a bed of refined and perfectly balanced violin strings. This formula reaches an irresistible climax with the album’s title track as she turns to her much-loved Brazil with tracks like Ninguém, Ninguém and Um Beljo, before she returns to the exquisite-sounding Moon River and I Fall in Love too Easily. A beautiful album which finishes with a somewhat intrusive track, Little Something, a pop duet with Sting that doesn’t really fit in with Sunset in the Blue’s general mood. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Vocale jazz - Verschenen op 28 augustus 2020 | Blue Note

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With his sixth album, Gregory Porter excels once again in perfectly blending jazz, soul, rhythm'n'blues, pop and gospel. In addition to being blessed with a voice of pure velvet (so cliché, but so true), the Californian, who knows Great Black Music inside out, is also a real wordsmith. In these troubled times, Gregory Porter's music refreshes and rejuvenates, like on "Revival Song," a sort of neo-gospel hymn that ignites the soul and frees the body. This sense of wellbeing can also be felt when Porter puts on his crooner hat on "If Love Is Overrated" or when he channels his inner Marvin Gaye and George Benson on "Faith In Love." Brilliantly produced by Troy Miller (Laura Mvula, Jamie Cullum, Emili Sandé), All Rise propels the American singer towards greater global recognition, reaching audiences well outside the jazz sphere. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Moderne jazz - Verschenen op 12 juni 2020 | Blue Note

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There was The Beatles by The Beatles, The Stooges by The Stooges, Cypress Hill by Cypress Hill, Metallica by Metallica – the list goes on. Naming an album after yourself tends to signal either the first chapter of your music, or the final one. For GoGo Penguin, GoGo Penguin represents the latter as a brief decade of enchanting musical exploration draws to a close for pianist Chris Illingworth, drummer Rob Turner and bassist Nick Blacka. The Manchester trio had established their own unique style and their well-balanced blend of contemporary jazz, electronic music and minimalism is captured perfectly in this 2020 vintage. With an album like this, GoGo Penguin increasingly move away from the legacy left behind by EST (the defunct Esbjörn Svensson Trio), the masters of minimalism (Steve Reich, Philip Glass) and of electronic music (Aphex Twin, Roni Size) who were their main influences in their early days. Illingworth explains, “What I’ve been able to do on the piano – it’s the sort of thing I’ve been trying to get towards, in what I can physically play and what I can do to express who I am. And I know that the other guys take the same pride themselves in what they’ve contributed. We’ve all found our place, we’ve all got that confidence of being able to say, ‘This is how I want to play my instrument, and this is how we want to play as a band – that thing we’ve always been aiming for”. For the first time, GoGo Penguin took their time to make this album and spent six months writing and two weeks recording and experimenting. It was a relatively calm experience but also emotional, as Turner explains, “This time, there's a lot more facing the realities of becoming older, facing mortality, and watching people that you care about being very close to death. At the same time, Chris (Illingworth) became a dad. The longer you live, the more complicated your reality becomes, so we felt our music had to reflect that”. And this is reflected in the improvisations as well as the ambient lyrical flights in GoGo Penguin, inflected with deep emotional resonance. In F Maj Pixie, the power behind Nick Blacka’s bassline acts like the beating heart of the track. Overall, this fifth studio album is all about emotion and delicate melodies. The clean production is free of unnecessary flourishes and GoGo Penguin get straight to the point in GoGo Penguin. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 21 augustus 2020 | Concord Jazz

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Although this release is Nubya Garcia's first real solo album, the artist is accustomed to being showered with praise, awards, prizes, projects and collaborations. At 29 years old, the Londoner is undoubtedly one of the major players on the new British jazz scene and her colourful, full-bodied saxophone playing has already resonated on numerous recordings such as those of the groups Nérija and Maisha, and on two thirds of We Out Here (2018), the iconic compilation album from Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label which united the big names on the contemporary scene. It is with some of these musicians that she has recorded Source. Joined by Joe Armon-Jones (keys), Daniel Casimir (bass) and Sam Jones (drums), Garcia was certainly well-equipped to push the boundaries of contemporary jazz and the UK music scene. As is often the case with contemporary UK musicians, Afro-Caribbean and urban sounds come to influence the rhythms as well as the melodies. Such a fusion is often present in UK jazz albums which also have their own unique flavours. The influence of Herbie Hancock (from the Headhunters period/early Columbia Records) is never far away (Inner Game, The Message Continues). This sensation is amplified by the funky playing of the organ and synth magician, Joe Armon-Jones.But Nubya Garcia is hungry for other sounds and landscapes. On the title track Source, the dub influence is clear. On Together is a Beautiful Place To Be, she deploys a delicate soul and R&B sensuality. Stand With Each Other slaloms between spellbinding nyabinghi rhythms while the aptly named La cumbia me està llamando leaves no doubt as to its influences… All of these sequences paint the picture of a woman well anchored in her time, a musician who is in harmony with her roots and history and puts the notion of collectiveness at the forefront of her artistry. Garcia's notable invitees include Richie Sievwright, Cassie Kinoshi and Sheila Maurice-Grey from the group Kokoroko, the Colombians of La Perla (La cambia me està llamando) as well as Chicago singer Akenya Seymour (Boundless Beings). With this Qobuzissime winning album, Nubya Garcia succeeds in going that little bit further and breaking down the walls that try to hold jazz back. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 10 juli 2020 | Nonesuch

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Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride and Brian Blade. A mere glance at RoundAgain’s line-up is enough to arouse a sense of collective hysteria among jazz fans. The original members of Joshua Redman's first quartet haven’t recorded together since MoodWing was released in 1994. “We would have done it ten years ago if it were up to me”, explains Mehldau, “Josh, Christian and Brian are all my heroes. It’s like playing with The Avengers!” It’s a worthy comparison seeing as these four really are considered superheroes in today’s jazzosphere. In almost a quarter of a century, their aura and playing has developed in an exponential way, to the point that the quartet has achieved an irrevocable spiritual chemistry. On this brand-new album (three compositions by Redman, two by Mehldau, and one each for McBride and Blade), they immediately show off a bond which allows them to perform extraordinary and colossal swing. Under the hood of this sparkling, perplexing yet vintage Rolls Royce of a record, RoundAgain is a meaningful four-way conversation. From beginning (Undertow) to end (Your Part to Play), mutual respect is at the heart of their drive and direction; even Redman’s verbose saxophone never steals the spotlight. Let’s just hope that we won’t have to wait another 26 years before they do it all again… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 30 oktober 2020 | Masterworks

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Confirming the cliché “Unity is Strength”, German trumpetist and singer Till Brönner and the American pianist Bob James have cowritten On Vacation, a work of smooth, hedonistic jazz. Before becoming the king of smooth jazz who has been sampled by every rapper on the planet (his Nautilus has ended up on over 400 tracks by the likes of Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest and Ghostface Killah), Bob James made pure, hard jazz, accompanying even the great Sarah Vaughan between 1965 and 1968. A music that was light years away from the funky fusion that would make his money throughout the 70s and 80s. It is clearly this ultra-smooth version of Bob James that fascinates Brönner, thirty years his younger. Somewhat like On Vacation’s sleeve, the two musicians have conceived a meticulous and flawless work that features soul themes carried by silky, comforting grooves. One must also note the immense Harvey Mason’s jazz’n’funk drums which feature on over half the tracks. Amidst the ensemble, Till Brönner’s trumpet holds an incredible lightness and his voice, on the few sung tracks, is like that of Donald Fagen, laid back and carefree. But it is ultimately in the more stripped-down songs like Miranda, those which veer off the beaten track where Brönner and James are alone without rhythmic sections, that the sheer extent of their style shines through the most. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Vocale jazz - Verschenen op 2 oktober 2020 | Verve

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In 1962, Ella Fitzgerald was at the height of her powers, about midway through recording her now-iconic series of "songbook" albums and, two years earlier, having released a barnstormer of a live album, Ella in Berlin, that solidified her position as one of the most talented and popular musicians working in the jazz idiom. Her only competition at the time was, essentially, Frank Sinatra and herself. During the course of 1962, she would release three albums: two complementary collaborations with Nelson Riddle that further pushed her into crossover territory without tarnishing her credibility or minimizing her skills, and the oft-overlooked Rhythm is My Business, a hard-swinging set that comes off breezy and soulful, but is a remarkable document of the strength of Fitzgerald and her band during this era. And it's that strength that's captured on The Lost Berlin Tapes, recorded in concert at Berlin’s Sportpalast that year. Verve Records founder Norman Granz frequently recorded live sets of many of his acts (Fitzgerald especially), and that's what accounts for both the existence and the remarkable fidelity of these "lost" tapes. (Though they were never truly lost; Granz had just stashed them away). From a performance perspective, it's unbelievable that this concert recording sat unheard for more than a half-century. Brimming with energy and benefiting from the confidence that can only come from being at the top of one's game, Ella and her band careen through 17 songs with a full-throated fervor that's greeted with an equally enthusiastic response from the crowd. The set both swings incredibly hard and evinces a cool, sophisticated polish, a combination that, again, pretty much only she and Sinatra were delivering at this scale during the era. It's the sort of casual excellence that's made to look deceptively easy. (And yes, she aces the version of "Mack the Knife" here.) Releases like this—especially in the aftermath of the devastating Universal fire that destroyed so many iconic album masters and so much unreleased material—prove that, even when we think a barrel has been fully scraped or a vault fully excavated, there will always be warm, welcome surprises to be found in the archives of these legendary artists. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 2 oktober 2020 | SKIP Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 11 september 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Super groups are often over marketed and rather dull. However, this appears to be the complete opposite with Artemis’s debut album, released on Blue Note Records. Behind the Artemis name, Greek Goddess of nature, the hunt and childbirth, are seven internationally acclaimed female musicians, each masters of their craft. At the head of this multi generational roundup, the Canadian pianist and musical director of the project, Renee Rosnes has brought together the Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen, the Chilean tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, the Canadian trompettiste Ingrid Jensen, the Japanese double bassist Noriko Ueda, the American drummer Allison Miller, and on two tracks, the Franco-American vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. ‘Each member of Artemis is a unique individual, and this is what music needs, artistic versatility!’, explains Cohen. ‘It’s the people that make life interesting and that make music captivating’. The group’s identity has flourished organically thanks to the seven musicians, each expressing their own vison and perspective yet maintaining a strong homogeneity throughout the record. For Jensen, ‘the character of the Greek Goddess Artemis reveals the energy and the broad musical horizons that our band brings on stage’. This is where the success of the record, focused on natural unification, shines. This vast album, comprised mainly of original compositions also features eclectic covers of The Fool On The Hill by the Beatles, Cry Buttercup, Cry, popularised by Maxine Sullivan, The Sidewinder by Lee Morgan and If It’s Magic by Stevie Wonder. Expert in her field, Renee Rosnes’ musical arrangements capture and cement the artistic creativity of each member. This super group, entirely female in its line-up, sends a strong message to the male dominated jazz world. Artemis’ music is beautiful, intelligent, and challenges the preconceived ideas of the jazz genre. ©️ Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 20 maart 2020 | World Circuit

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Jazz - Verschenen op 12 juni 2020 | ECM

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Rather than contempt, familiarity breeds a comfortable groove on Swallow Tales, a shared vision for a group of notable tunes written by the venerable bass veteran Steve Swallow. This straight-ahead conversation between old friends and musical partners was recorded in a brief four hours; the result is a flavorful snapshot of a long and fruitful relationship now over 40 years old between guitarist John Scofield and his mentor Swallow. The pair is accompanied by Scofield's go-to drummer, the versatile Bill Stewart, whom the guitarist has played with in a number of different musical contexts. Energized by the easy charm of musical instinct, this session opens with one of Swallow's most beautiful ballads, "She Was Young," before shifting to "Falling Grace," where Stewart's natural and infallible rhythms support Swallow who sweeps into his signature broken time bass style. Scofield stretches out and shows his sense of invention and flair for concise solos in a fast take "Portsmouth Figurations," a tune he first heard on one of his earliest album influences, Gary Burton's Duster. The most famous number "Eiderdown," (also the first tune Swallow ever wrote and has been covered by the likes of Chick Corea, Bill Evans and Phil Woods), receives a spirited run through with Scofield, who says he once struggled to master these changes. He deftly travels up and down the guitar neck, preferring high notes, while Stewart takes an orderly, articulate solo. Another oft-recorded tune, the waltzy "Hullo Bolinas," is taken at a brisk pace while the bassist's playful borrowing from Cole Porter—"In F"—also features another measured, tasteful solo from Stewart. A reunion more interested in bringing fresh insights to well-known repertoire than pushing envelopes, Swallow Tales is the sound of masters at work. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 12 juni 2020 | Nonesuch

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The pandemic, lockdown and social distancing were the start and end point for this solo piano album that Brad Mehldau had clearly never expected to record nor publish. The impact of this most outlandish situation can be seen clearly in track’s titles on Suite: April 2020 (waking up, stepping outside, keeping distance, stopping, listening: hearing, remembering before all this, uncertainty, the day moves by…) and even the record’s sleeve, a self-written text and sort of explanatory waybill of a period that ended up more exciting than mundane. The piano playing is indeed exciting and purer than usual as if each note holds weight and questions itself own individual purpose. There’s an ambiance that gives Mehldau’s improvisations an authentic simplicity and surreal purity. It’s without doubt about the simplicity of finding oneself, like never before, among family and enjoying basic daily tasks and pleasures, as written on the cover. And to conclude this work: an indoor promenade of three parts: Don’t Let It Bring You Down by Neil Young (a song Mehldau often looks to for guidance), New York State of Mind by Billy Joel, a love letter to the Big Apple which has suffered greatly during the epidemic (and a place he considers a home away from home), and the classic Look for the Silver Lining, which closes in a reassuring, warming manner full of hope for a period in which the world stopped spinning; or almost. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Moderne jazz - Verschenen op 27 november 2020 | Blue Note

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Locked down and unable to tour, GoGo Penguin made the most of the situation by developing their makeshift concert repertoire. This concert sees the virtuous Manchester trio play in a certain Abbey Road Studios. Four out of seven of the tracks from this short 30-minute Live From Studio 2, transmitted live online of the 29th of October 2020, come from their fifth album released in June 2020. This atypical situation rallies like never before pianist Chris Illingworth, drummer Rob Turner and bassist Nick Blacka. Like caged animals suddenly let free, the Mancunians deliver a powerful rendition of their famous concoction of contemporary jazz, electronic music and minimalism. From the first minutes of Totem which opens this EP, the rhythms throb more than we are used to as Illingworth’s fingers dart across the piano keys. “We didn’t want to play in an empty venue, somehow it just felt weird trying to create the energy of a concert in an empty room”, explains Blacka. “But we had recorded an EP in studio 2 back in 2015 and loved the space and somehow it just made sense to film a show here.” Chris Illingworth confirms this: “It’s a really special place and we wanted somewhere intimate that we would be excited to work in and where we could tap into that sense of excitement that you get from a live concert.” For Turner, t is more a question of sound. “When we perform, we’re always reacting to each other but also the crowd. The people and the energy in the space is as much a part of the performance as we are Studio Two is imbued with the ghosts of all the incredible music and musicians that have performed there. It has an atmosphere all of its own. You really feel the expanse of time, how much has happened before you and how much will continue to happen after you.” A great success through and through. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 25 september 2020 | Mack Avenue Records

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Christian McBride's latest big band session travels back to an incredible moment in 1966 when organist Jimmy Smith, guitarist Wes Montgomery and arranger Oliver Nelson gathered at Rudy Van Gelder's studio for a hard-swinging and ever-so-slightly unconventional big band summit meeting; all were operating at peak creativity. It was the first-ever collaboration between Smith and Montgomery, and the resulting albums (The Dynamic Duo and The Further Adventures Of…) were bursting with feats of highwire soloistic daredevilry. Nelson was the stealth MVP of the date. His arrangements—particularly "Down By The Riverside" and "Milestones"—discovered a lane equidistant between the hard swing of Basie and the floral voicings of Ellington, with intricate full-ensemble taunts giving way to plush pads designed to provoke the soloists. McBride's update uses those and other original Nelson charts, which, after all these decades, exude a freshness that eludes many large-ensemble projects. And it relies on a similarly sparky showdown between strong minded soloists—the organist Joey DeFrancesco and guitarist Mark Whitfield. Both clearly know they're working in the towering shadows of giants; neither seems daunted by that as they explore the hairpin turns of the big-band "Milestones" or the easygoing saunter of Montgomery's "Road Song." There are a few astonishing small-group moments, too, that offer a quick gauge on how far these soloists have evolved— check Whitfield on "Road Song," DeFrancesco's gentle and dramatic reading of the ballad "I Want To Talk About You" and McBride's capricious twenty-fingered trip through "Up Jumped Spring"). One elusive element McBride managed to transfer from the original source: The swing feel. From the opening solo, a twisty-road Whitfield foray on "Night Train," it's clear that the soloists thrive in the McBride sweet spot—everything they do, all the flashy blowing, flows directly from the crisp, uncomplicated grooves established by the bassist and his rhythm section. Big band music would be easier to love if it all felt this good. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 24 april 2020 | ACT Music

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Jazz - Verschenen op 29 januari 2021 | ECM

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What if Trio Tapestry was one of the most crucial outfits in all of Joe Lovano's long career? A year after a first album for ECM, the Cleveland saxophonist has reunited with his two accomplices, pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Carmen Castaldi, for an even more moving recording. Upon the release of the first, Lovano had described this Trio as "a melodic, harmonic, rhythmic musical tapestry throughout, sustaining moods and atmospheres.” Trio Tapestry, above all, had all the hallmarks of a spirited piece of jazz. With this Garden of Expression, spirituality and calm once again underline each improvisation. Lovano, who writes all the compositions, is never a lider maximo but one third of a tightly-welded unit. A unique voice driven by a desire for purity. In what is unspoken, in the notes that are left unplayed, Crispell displays astounding precision. The depth of the playing of this unfairly underestimated pianist has rarely reached such a level. In terms of restraint too, Lovano blows a light wind of saving serenity in these turbulent times (the album is dedicated to the victims of Covid): a breeze that does good and is felt as a welcome pause for recollection. Wonderful. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 11 september 2020 | Concord Jazz

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Jazz - Verschenen op 15 mei 2020 | Young

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Even if Becoming isn’t a classic studio album by Kamasi Washington like his ambitious records The Epic and Heaven and Earth, it’s still a score that the saxophonist from Los Angeles makes truly his own. Composed to accompany Nadia Hallgren’s documentary about Michelle Obama’s tour to promote Becoming all over the US, this completely instrumental soundtrack fits with the polished, razor-sharp images of a 100% Netflix production. The Kamasi Washington sound, the orchestral approach and the pure melodies are all there; but the avant-gardist veils are balanced by a much more soulful, almost pop approach. It’s a bit like a slightly watered-down Kamasi, which is still very good if not brilliant, plus the more daring themes such as Provocation will be sure to satisfy the saxophonist's demanding fans... Becoming's production team obviously didn't choose the Californian by chance; he perfectly embodies the American dream under Obama’s presidency. He’s a young African-American activist who grew up in Inglewood, became a sideman for Snoop and Kendrick and ended up as a star of the international jazz scene... Despite the lack of risk-taking or lively improvisations, Kamasi Washington proves that even in a marked out and policed context he can still create his own sounds and stay true to himself. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 11 september 2020 | ECM

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Moderne jazz - Verschenen op 25 september 2020 | ACT Music

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Sometimes it's easier to live a life of solitude when you're... alone? That’s what Michael Wollny is on Mondenkind. Actually, he’s not completely alone. He’s surrounded by names such as Alban Berg, Rudolf Hindemith, Sufjan Stevens, Tori Amos and the Canadian group Timber Timbre. Through revisiting pieces from this eclectic decade-crossing list, the German pianist reflects on loneliness with his usual open-minded attitude. Two thirds of the compositions on this solo album are his own. Recorded in Berlin’s Teldex studio in in April 2020, it feels like he’s searching for a sound on this record. The sound of his instrument perhaps. He also explores his relationship with classical music, which is at the heart of this beautiful record. A brilliant journey inwards. © Max Dembo/Qobuz

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