Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Introducing Miha Gantar, Five CD Box Set, From Piano Solo to Large Group


Music and seasons intertwine. They come and go and if you follow new releases you can be glad for happy surprises when you get them. That is most surely the case lately with a new Clean Feed Five-CD box set Introducing Miha Gantar (CF598CD). The Amsterdam based Slovenian composer-pianist presents us with a panoply of configurations and musical intelligences both related to Avant Jazz and New Music Modernisms within an overall improvisatory-composed hybrid that I suppose we can safely embrace as Jazz. I only say that because it explains why I put this review discussion in the Jazz-oriented blog and not the Modern Classical one.

Disk One: Miha Gantar Solo, Origins of the Pure. The set kicks off with a solo disk that provides a free ranging piano expression of what Miha Gantar is all about. Some of this is electronically multi-tracked and sometimes incorporates alternate tuning along with the standard Western piano pitches. There are moments also that involve some prepared timbres. It is complex, subtle and deeply expressive and reverent and sometimes alternately vibrant. Jazz-like at times in its outpouring of expressive thrust, then abstractly New Music-like in its expanded sprawl of reflexive soundings with extended harmonic-melodic complexities and syntax. It is something that you hear multiple times to the advantage of it all. It gets better, more coherent as you listen in multiple sittings.

Disk Two: Miha Gantar Duo, Songs and Serenades Miha teams up with singer Marta Arpini for some 13 wistfully beautiful yet primal key rooted, melody-harmony glowing gems of tender reflection. This set refuses ABACABA or other typical song sequencing for something more mysterious and sing-songy and sometimes more pointilistically abstracted. Yet it has pianistically a song harmony with vocal topping that relates to Jazz song. Then there is a nice version of "Bye Bye, Blackbird" and that works, too. It is a very charming duo, not quite like anything I have heard elsewhere, Sweet.

Disk Three: Miha Gantar Trio, A Portrait of the Imaginary Here we have a piano trio of Miha, Tijs Klaassen and Tristan Renfrow, bass and drums, respectively. The trio goes off into a mesmerising, never banal reverie of haunting motifs that set up a sort of Unanswered Question not precisely Ivesian but equally probing in its own way. It is Minimalistic yet the motif travels further than some in the genre.

Disk Four: Miha Gantar Quartet, Polymorphic Realities This volume kicks things into high gear with a rollicking energy thrust. It is a dual drumming core of Gerry Hemingway and Christian Lillinger reinforced and furthered by the sound color trumpet and electronics carpentry by Axel Dorner and a central presence of Miha on piano, who little-by-little creates a kind of awe with really stunning chordal and melodic gemstone phrases. It all rolls unto a varied series of depth charges made lavish with thick virtuoso freedom drumming and then definitive trumpet-piano individualisms.

Disk Five: Milo Gantar Large Ensemble, Alternate History of the Future From there we take the ultimate step into a 14 member big band-orchestra. Miha's piano joins forces with oboe, alto sax, alto and baritone saxes, tenor sax, bass clarinet, clarinet and bass clarinet, flute, French horn, trumpet, two double basses, two drums and percussion. It is an ambitious and quite successful sprawl of avant freedom and avant counterpoints with a very spacious total blanket of sound and then a marvelous piano commentary that leaves you wanting more.

And so we go. This is one of rhe most impressive debuts I have ever heard. Mihu is a brilliant talent that noi doubt we will hear much from in the coming years. Take a listen to this by all means. Bravo.

Take a look at the Bandcamp link,where you can audition it all.

Eve Risser, Red Desert Orchestra, Eurythmia


Pianist and composer Eve Risser I've happily appreciated as a fine pianist and a practitioner with roots in Avant Jazz and New Music (see previous posts here by typing in the search box). But then  none of what I've appreciated quite prepared me for a new one by her and her Red Desert Orchestra, Eurythmia (Clean Feed CF609CD). It is something that commanded my immediate attention from the first listen on.

From my first go at it I knew I needed to cover this one. It is firstly a vehicle for Eve Risser's African rooted compositions for big band, consisting of herself on piano and some eleven musicians. The album makes time for some eight pieces, which center around infectious and open groove-freedom exaltations that seriously graft together African riff-rhythm concentrations that leave room for free improvs with floating electronics and horn sailings.

One hears a relation to some of George Russell's Living Time pieces as well as Miles in his Afro-Psych-Groove excursions in his last band from the '70s period. There are elements that suggest an affinity with some of the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Afro-Free meldings as well. And then too we get this band's and Eve's own takes on how that complex of traits lays out in space and time, with a tight series of written expositions and tight, then loose pointillistic improv sublimities.

In the process there is a very nice blend between electronics and acoustics, in a mode that does not separate the two but rather Euro-Africanizes it all in special ways. Antonin-Tri Hoang plays some nice alto and Eve's pianoism are key elements along with some other decent soloists and keen-eared embellishers. The drums-percussion-mallet players happily hold forth with a real verve in ways that remind us how much we who follow the world muse have learned and absorbed from our Mother Africa.

As I listen and re-listen this music grabs me in its deeply expressive and deeply varied whole-part beauty.

Get this one and play it a lot of times. It will doubtless make you smile. Eve Risser must be heard!