The route through Graceland to a jazz concept album is a treacherous one. Popular music icons of varying styles--such as the Beatles and Joni Mitchell--have been transcribed with varying degrees of success. The more successful interpretations of The Crimson Jazz Trio benefited from their actual ties to King Crimson and outstanding musicianship. Now, pianist Peter Madsen's CIA Trio ventures into potentially contentious territory with Elvis Never Left the Building and pulls off a brilliantly executed coup. Madsen re-harmonizes ten Elvis Presley staples with the help of bassist Herwig Hammerl and drummer Alfred Vogel, both members of the Austrian based Collective ...read more
Peter Madsen fortified an already solid reputation with a pair of stellar solo piano works in the last decade: Sphere Essence: Another Side of Monk (2003) and Prevue of Tomorrow (2006), both on Playscape. Now he works his magic with bassist Andy McKee and drummer Gerald Cleaver on The Litchfield Suite, a vibrant performance captured live at the Litchfield Jazz Festival and Camp, where Madsen has performed and taught for several years. The songs on The Litchfield Suite are diverse, touching various styles, with interludes between giving each band member a brief spotlight. On the introduction to ...read more
Pianist Peter Madsen is well rounded in his jazz foundation, having played inside the mainstream and outside. He has the knowledge, musicianship and technique for both, and in fact says he comes by it honestly, being attracted to both sides as a youngster.
I can tell you the first two records I bought. Maybe that's why I've been fascinated with both sides of jazz, straight ahead and very avant-garde things. That was Oscar Peterson Night Train (Verve, 1962) and John Coltrane's Selflessness (Impulse!, 1963), with McCoy Tyner on piano. So I kind of started from the outside and ...read more
Aimez-vous Prokofiev? Granados? These composers' piano pieces are good markers of the genre of most of this set, which is based on compositions by the most fascinating individual jazz pianists. The chosen pianists were (and some still are) idiosyncratic and individual, although some were nearer than others to Legit techniques and 20th Century piano music.
There's no doubting Madsen's ability to analyse and dismantle the original compositions of these distinctive, unique, non-routine stylists. He also has the considerable compositional ability needed to shape the derived material into structurally strong independent works, and the stylistic command needed for transitions between idioms. ...read more
Peter Madsen has brought his technique to several recordings, often giving them a direction and pursuit that showcases his creativity. His improvisations have a deep-rooted harmonic strength, and he makes this a takeoff point for some colourful and imaginative flights. That the muse still stirs the fires in him is once again evidenced on Prevue of Tomorrow as he takes on a wide-ranging body of work solo.
Madsen is comfortable with the music he has chosen. His approach hones in on the crux, and he takes it on from there. If he emphasizes one thing, it is melody. He never ...read more
Five of the tunes here were written, the rest improvised; a good enough balance to determine the rapport between the two. Do they get their chops off only from the written note or can they fathom and spar, merge and mate with the thought processes that emanate as they play, and at the end of it all hold up a logical whole? Ted Levine and Peter Madsen succeed, even as they move across different forms and structures that they essay on their musical roundabout.
Levine blows hard and hot on the alto, adding a few breathy notes as ...read more
Peter Madsen pays tribute to Thelonious Monk and his music on the solo piano recording Sphere Essence ' Another Side of Monk. Madsen spreads the canvas with rich textures, bringing the well-known compositions to life through his expansive resolution of their complexities. Monk's music has had more exposure since his death than I would imagine he ever dreamed possible; yet Madsen stamps the selections with a unique identity and brings freshness and vitality to the repertoire.
The pianist employs various techniques to convey his originality. On some tunes, he uses his left hand quite adroitly to institute rolling rhythm while ...read more
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