Heiner StadlerBrains on FireLabor Records2012One of the most exciting reissues of the first quarter of 2012 is composer and pianist Heiner Stadler's pioneering Brains on Fire, originally released in 1973. The two-CD reissue adds three lengthy, previously unreleased tracks and informative and well-researched liner notes by critic Howard Mandel. Interestingly, Stadler occupies the piano chair only on five of the eight pieces, recorded over a seven-year span in a variety of settings varying from vocals and bass duet to big band. His bold style and versatility as a composer, ...read more
In the winter of 1978, Heiner Stadler lent his consummate skill to conceiving, arranging and conducting a project featuring the music of two of the most beloved icons of modern music: Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. Tribute to Monk and Bird (Tomato, 1978) was released as a 2-LP set, produced by Michael Cuscuna, and eleven years later, it was re-released as a 2-CD set. Now, 22 years later, this magnificent session makes its reappearance yet again. Why is this important? For two reasons: Not only does it reaffirm the absolute relevance of the music of Monk and Bird, but this ...read more
Tribute to Bird & Monk is a scintillating blast recorded in 1978, when the battle lines between innovation and the tradition were clearly drawn. In tackling compositions by Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker, and casting them in a fresh light, arranger Heiner Stadler obviously wasn't shy about playing the provocative agent. Initially it sounds as if he was intent only on realizing music that was as far removed from the source material as possible. However, upon repeated exposure to his recasting, it's clear that his effort and that of the crack band is a combined exercise in alternative realization.read more
Originally released in 1978 as a double LP by Tomato Records, Tribute to Bird & Monk is as revelatory now as when it was awarded a five star review in Downbeat over three decades ago. This unique tribute transcends convention, featuring a stellar cast of musicians performing under-sung German composer Heiner Stadler's polyphonic orchestrations of be-bop standards written by Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk. The lineup Stadler selected for this project spans the entire spectrum of jazz tradition. As a former Monk sideman, cornetist Thad Jones represents the old guard, while visionary AACM trombonist George Lewis symbolizes the ...read more
The concept of Third Stream" and improvised compositions (composed improvisations?) did not die in the '50s. It has matured through the last half century to the point where the line between composition and improvisation has become extremely blurred. (Witness the graphic arrangements of Morton Feldman, for example, which require the performer to specify individual notes while maintaining a calculated course of pitch or intensity.) On discs like Heiner Stadler's Jazz Alchemy, it can be a real challenge to tell exactly where the composition ends and the improv begins. To use Stadler's term, the goal with this hybrid music is to ...read more
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