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Mariane Bitran / Makiko Hirabayashi Quintet

Grey to Blue

  • Type CD
  • Label Stunt
  • UPC 0663993080321
  • Catalog number STUCD 8032
  • Release date 25 April 2008
Physical (CD)

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About the album

It would be a cliché to say that the world gets smaller and smal- ler every day. Jazz has always been a forum in which players can meet without musical prejudice. It is also quite natural for five musicians from different countries to make Denmark their home. However, it is remarkable that they now find themsel- ves in the same group. Flutist Mariane Bitran is French, pia- nist and keyboard player Makiko Hirabayashi is Japanese, te- nor saxophonist Bob Rockwell is American, bassist Erik Olevik is Swedish and drummer Morten Lund is Danish.

The music composed by Mariane Bitran and Makiko Hirabaya- shi is an inspiring basis for ensemble playing and improvisation. The music is easy to listen to but original. Flute and tenor sax is not an everyday constellation, but then again, you don’t hear a group consisting of five different nationalities every day either.

Mariane Bitran and Makiko Hirayabashi met in Copenhagen, and brought their own distinct cultural backgrounds in jazz and world music into this collaboration. The sound of Mariane’s vari- ous flutes – including the percussive African flute, the Chinese wooden flute and the mysterious alto flute – provided the in- spiration to write original music for an acoustic group. Their re- cipe for dynamic and interesting quartet music lies in the con- trasting double bass and translucent flutes supplemented with textures and sounds from the piano and drums. Morten Lund’s and Erik Olevik’s imaginative and energetic playing lend this music a tension which opens the door to creative dialogue. The compositions are also inspired by Mariane’s French roots and Makiko’s Asian background, and by classical music and mo- dern jazz. GREY TO BLUE provides the rare opportunity of he- aring Bob Rockwell in a different, open and experimental set- ting, which profits from his experience, powerful playing, energy and dynamic sense.

Mariane Bitran received her musical education in Paris. Her pro- fessional career started in 1981, and since 1998 it has continued in Denmark (and France). Other collaborations include projects with Pernille Bervort, Simon Spang-Hanssen, Benita Haastrup,
the Togolese guitarist and composer Alain Dodji Apaloo and the Icelandic vocalist Nina Björk Elia- son. Her French projects have included Mountain Quintet, Zoomtop Orchestra (with Richard Bona), Olivier Cahours 4tet, Paris Flute Orchestra and Flute Unlimited. Mariane Bitran has two previous releases out on STUNT Records, “A Place For You” and “All One”.

Born in Japan in 1966, Makiko Hirabayashi began playing classical piano at the age of four. She has studied jazz at Berklee College of Music in Boston and is a graduate from The Rhythmic Conserva- tory in Copenhagen. She has performed and re- corded with numerous orchestras in jazz and world music including Sisters and Morild. Her own Makiko Hirayabashi Trio includes Klavs Hovman (b) and Marilyn Mazur (dr & perc). Their acclaimed debut recording was relea- sed on the German Enja label in 2006. In 1995 Sisters won three prizes at European Jazz Contest in Belgium: Best Arrangement, Most Popular Band and 3’rd Prize – General Performance. Ma- kiko has performed in most of Europe, in Japan with her own group Third Floor and in South Africa with Sisters.

Tenor saxophonist Bob Rockwell is going on 25 years as a ‘Dane’. Following a tour with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, the then 38-year old American decided that the time was ripe for change of scene. Born in Minneapolis, Rockwell taught himself to play saxophone, but after a spell with local rock bands, he was smitten with the jazz bug. Via Las Vegas, he landed in New York in the late 70’s, where he joined groups with Freddie Hub- bard, Tito Puente, Billy Hart and Marc Johnson.

In Denmark, he soon became an integrated and popular part of the Danish scene. He has led his own groups, held a seat in the Danish Radio Big Band, been a member of the organ trio Organizers – plus a long list of other activities. He has toured most of Europe, Japan and USA in collaborations including with pianist Ben Sidron. He has released CD’s on Steeple Chase. His two most recent, “Bob’s Wilder” and “Bob’s Ben” have been for STUNT Records.

The youngest member of the group is Erik Olevik from Ham- burgsund in Sweden. He is a graduate of Copenhagen’s Rhyth- mic Conservatory. His main activity has been with Karen Bach’s Trio.

Morten Lund is a graduate from The Royal Conservatory in Co- penhagen. Recent years have established him as one of the country’s busiest drummers. He can be heard in many groups and appears on more than 60 CD’s with top Scandinavian and European artists including Cecilie Norby, Chris Minh Doky, Ulf Wakenius, Jan Lundgren, Paolo Fresu, Stefano Bollani, Nguyen Le and Dhaffer Youssef. He has recorded two CD’s for STUNT Records with Stefan Bollani’s trio. 

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