About the album
Classical/pop, rock/classical, classical/jazz, fusion: the list of possible crossovers can get very long. What all these couplings have in common is the desire to blend two or more different languages. It is a bit like triggering a chemical reaction, the outcome of which no longer has anything to do with the original components of the reaction itself. In the more specific field of jazz/classical music crossover, the 1920s were crucial. In fact, they gave us one of the first, absolutely extraordinary, works of the genre: the famous “Rhapsody in Blue.” In this masterpiece, Gershwin achieved exceptional results thanks to his merging of elements from American popular music, particularly the blues, with others typical of the European classic tradition.
John Lewis moved in the same direction as Gershwin, but from a very different vision and experience. Indeed, Lewis was an excellent jazz pianist (it’s enough to think of his collaborations with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis) where Gershwin, who was also a phenomenal pianist and very well-versed in the jazz of his time, was strictly speaking never a full-time jazz pianist. But above all Lewis, besides being a great jazz player, was deeply in love with the music of Bach and from the earliest years of his career onward made the blues/Bach pair the banner of his artistic life. The Modern Jazz Quartet, which he founded in 1952 – for nearly half a century one of the most celebrated groups on the international jazz scene was the unmistakable vehicle of his musical conception and the real workshop of his highly original crossover.
It is to this musical conception and to the compositional art of John Lewis that, a little more than two decades after his passing, “Blues and Bach” wishes to pay tribute. His tunes have been reworked and orchestrated for the occasion with an ensemble that, in some ways, is itself a crossover within a crossover (jazz trio plus string quintet and woodwind quintet).
As a final thought, we would like to add that “Blues and Bach” is a kind of documentation in music of our two musical biographies. Indeed, encountering blues and Bach were fundamental experiences for both of us, and it is precisely thanks to John Lewis’ dream of blending two musical worlds so far apart that these experiences have been happily brought together here.
Klassik/Pop, Rock/Klassik, Klassik/Jazz, Fusion: Die Liste der möglichen Kreuzungen kann sehr lang werden.
Allen diesen Verbindungen gemeinsam ist der Wunsch, zwei oder mehr verschiedene Sprachen zu vermischen. Es ist ein bisschen so, als würde man eine chemische Reaktion auslösen, deren Ergebnis nichts mehr mit den ursprünglichen Bestandteilen der Reaktion selbst zu tun hat.
Auf dem speziellen Gebiet des Crossover zwischen Jazz und klassischer Musik waren die 1920er Jahre entscheidend. Sie haben uns eines der ersten, absolut außergewöhnlichen Werke dieses Genres beschert: die berühmte "Rhapsody in Blue". In diesem Meisterwerk erzielte Gershwin außergewöhnliche Ergebnisse, da er Elemente der amerikanischen Populärmusik, insbesondere des Blues, mit anderen, für die europäische
John Lewis bewegte sich in dieselbe Richtung wie Gershwin, jedoch mit einer ganz anderen Vision und Erfahrung. Lewis war in der Tat ein hervorragender Jazzpianist (man denke nur an seine Zusammenarbeit mit Charlie Parker und Miles Davis), während Gershwin, der ebenfalls ein phänomenaler Pianist war und den Jazz seiner Zeit sehr gut kannte, streng genommen nie ein Vollzeit-Jazzpianist war. Vor allem aber war Lewis nicht nur ein großartiger Jazzer, sondern auch tief in die Musik Bachs verliebt und machte von den ersten Jahren seiner Karriere an die Verbindung von Blues und Bach zum Banner seines künstlerischen Lebens. Das von ihm 1952 gegründete Modern Jazz Quartet - fast ein halbes Jahrhundert lang eine der gefeiertsten Gruppen der internationalen Jazzszene - war das unverwechselbare Vehikel seines musikalischen Konzepts und die eigentliche Werkstatt
seines höchst originellen Crossovers.
Diesem musikalischen Konzept und der kompositorischen Kunst von John Lewis möchte "Blues and Bach" nun, etwas mehr als zwei Jahrzehnte nach seinem Tod, Tribut zollen. Seine Stücke wurden für diesen Anlass überarbeitet und mit einem Ensemble instrumentiert, das in gewisser Weise selbst ein Crossover innerhalb eines Crossovers ist (Jazztrio plus Streichquintett und Holzbläserquintett).
Abschließend möchten wir anmerken, dass "Blues und Bach" eine Art musikalische Dokumentation unserer beiden musikalischen Biografien ist. Tatsächlich waren die Begegnungen mit Blues und Bach für uns beide grundlegende Erfahrungen, und es ist gerade dem Traum von John Lewis zu verdanken, zwei so weit voneinander entfernte musikalische Welten zu verschmelzen, dass diese Erfahrungen hier auf glückliche Weise zusammengeführt wurden.
Enrico Pieranunzi & Michele Corcella
Enrico Pieranunzi was born in Rome in 1949 and has for many years been among the most significant and well-known protagonists of the international jazz scene. A pianist, composer, and arranger, he has recorded more than 80 albums under his own name, ranging from piano solo to trio, from duo to quintet.
His formative years embraced both classical and jazz piano. Emerging in the early 1970s, his lyrical approach quickly brought him to the forefront of the European scene and, in 1984, he formed a trio with Marc Johnson and Joey Baron, the first of several prominent groups with American musicians- this trio was said to be “one of the very top tier trios working today”.
Pieranunzi has worked-in concert or in the studio-with artists such as Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Charlie Haden, Chris Potter, Marc Johnson, and Joey Baron. Pieranunzi has been named artist of the year four times by Musica Jazz magazine's poll (in 1989, 2003, 2008, 2020). He also won the French Django d'Or award as "Best European Musician" in 1997 and the German Echo Jazz Award in 2014 as "Best International Keyboard Artist."
Pieranunzi has performed his music all over the world at the most prestigious international festivals, from Montréal to Copenhagen and Buenos Aires, from Berlin and Madrid to Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Beijing. He has also been a regular performer at New York's most important clubs, most notably at the Village Vanguard, where in July 2010 he recorded the album Live at the Village Vanguard with Marc Johnson and Paul Motian. This is the first album ever recorded by an Italian musician (and one of very few by European musicians) at the legendary diamond-shaped 7th Avenue venue. A second Live at the Village Vanguard, "New Spring," was then recorded in 2015 with Donny McCaslin, Scott Colley and Clarence Penn, and a third, titled "The extra something," in 2016 with a quintet including Seamus Blake, Diego Urcola, Ben Street and Adam Cruz. All three Live at the Village Vanguard features almost exclusively compositions by Pieranunzi.
In addition to recording several albums, in fact, he has written a huge number of compositions, many of which have become true international standards such as Night Bird (recorded several times by Chet Baker), Don't forget the poet, Fellini's Waltz. Many of these works have been included in the prestigious "New Real Books" published in the USA by "Sher Music”.
“…along Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett, he’s one of the greatest jazz pianists of his generation” (Irish Times)
“Remember the name, get lost in the music” (Josef Woodard, Jazz Times)
“Pieranunzi can swing – crisply and surely. But in those tempos, he remains his lyrical self. His music sings” (Nat Hentoff)
“Enrico Pieranunzi breathes new life into contemporary jazz” (Ray Spencer, Jazz Journal International)
“Pieranunzi has that rarest quality in a pianist: his own sound.” (Stuart Broomer, Down Beat)
“Pieranunzi merits wordlwide recognition” (Ken Dryden, New York City Jazz Record)
Pieranunzi is one of Europe's great jazz pianists, greatly influenced by Bill Evans. His luminous tone and elegant, linear phrasing is a superb foil to the warmth of Corcella's arrangements.
The Times, 18-1-2023
Lewis would have loved to have had an orchestra this well rehearsed and recorded so beautifully.
The Arts Fuse, 12-1-2023
...it is probably safe to say that the odds are that Lewis would enjoy Blues & Bach. The orchestrations bring new facets to the familiar compositions and are as light on their feet as the source material, while Pieranunzi's trio, collectively and as soloists, keeps the music foursquare in the realm of creative jazz.
All About Jazz, 06-1-2023
Ideal chamber jazz sympathetically arranged and interpreted that once again reminds us of just how great a composer John Lewis was and how classics from his songbook are as satisfying and rewarding as anything written today.
Like everything Pieranunzi shows on his albums, it is again just enjoying his technically superior but also warm playing that always, and that is most important, carries his personal stamp, pure enjoyment that is the adage that can be said about this music.