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Cover

Rainer Böhm

hýdōr

  • Type CD
  • Label ACT music
  • UPC 0614427976123
  • Catalog number ACT 97612
  • Release date 05 October 2018
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About the album

Jazz for piano has always been part of ACT’s DNA, something which is evident when one considers the label’s roster of pianists of international renown: Joachim Kühn, Esbjörn Svensson, Michael Wollny... With “Piano Works”, ACT has a series of albums specifically dedicated to the fine art of solo piano playing. The latest pianist to enter this pantheon is Rainer Böhm.

Born in Ravensburg in Southern Germany in 1977, Böhm is considered by critics to be one of the country’s outstanding jazz pianists, yet among the wider public he has not reached the level of recognition he deserves. He has made his mark through some excellent projects – with saxophonist Johannes Enders for example. He teaches at the conservatoires in Nuremberg and Mannheim, where he is one of their youngest professors. Böhm is also known as a long-standing member of the trio of Germany’s pre-eminent bassist,

Dieter Ilg. The success and the impact that this group has achieved are at least in part attributable to Böhm’s remarkable piano playing, notably in ist jazz adaptations of the greats of classical music – Verdi, Wagner, Beethoven and Bach. Indeed, the concept of crossing such frontiers is at the core of Böhm’s musical identity, and is to be found in its purest form on “hýdōr”.

Böhm is one of those genre-defiers for whom classical music and jazz are not in opposition to each other, but perfectly complementary polarities situated around a central task: how to convey emotions through music. The way Böhm has now risen to this challenge as a solo pianist is magnificent. He is able to rely on a stupendous technique, which allows him to exploit a deep well of melodic inventiveness and creativity. Again and again irresistible melodies emerge; they can be ethereal miniatures reminiscent of Grieg as in the title track “hýdōr”, heavily romantic as in the agitated tune “Catalyst”, skittish as in the bebop-style “Thumb Up, Broken Toe”, or gently lyrical as in “Hypo”. Another kind of fascination comes from a rhythmically superimposed melody in “Badi Bada” – which dances carefree over clusters in the left hand à la Philip Glass.

The reason that Böhm’s playing, compositions and improvisations are so affecting is that they are so subtle; he prefers allusion to heart-on-sleeve. Themes which are pared-down (and which can also change in surprising ways) take the place of over-obvious motifs. They draw the listener deep into a world which is always tinged with melancholy. In “hýdōr” Böhm has impressively joined the ranks of the great piano romantics. His highly individual voice makes a new and distinguished addition to the “Piano Works” series.

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