Thursday, October 15, 2020

Alexander von Schlippenbach - Slow Pieces for Aki (Intakt Records, 2020)

Pianist Aki Takase, wife of equally lauded pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach asked a simple question: does freely improvised jazz always have to be so fast and loud? The question stuck with Schlippenbach, who prepared for a year before going into a Zurich studio to record his answer at the piano, a meditation on slowness. The music itself is quite beautiful in a spare and haunting manner, the pianist is supremely confident in his technique and approach to improvisation, whether drawn from written composition and themes or spontaneous composition and freely improvised section. It’s hard to choose one performance that stands out, because this is an album that needs to be listened to and absorbed as a whole document. It can become a bit hypnotizing at times with Schlippenbach leaving behind the quick and strong hammered phrases that are the stark and startling hallmarks of his keyboard style when he plays with groups, particularly groups that feature strong saxophonists like Evan Parker or Peter Brotzmann. But that is not the case here and you get an entirely different view of this wonderful musician, music turned inward, fragile and introspective. The nature of the music is in the title, focusing on the word slow. These pieces approach a zen or minimalist approach at times, and by shedding anything ornamental or unnecessary, the pianist is truly able to bare his soul in an deeply personal album that is dedicated to his wife. It is a wonderful achievement, and highly recommended to any jazz fan. Slow Pieces For Aki -

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