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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio: Double Windsor

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The piano trio is the supreme discipline in jazz. Through rich possibilities, it functions as a strong filter sifting out those few who were and are able to set new standards. What matters is how the three instrumental vertices relate to each other dynamically, harmonically and soundwise to build something coherent, in close dependency. Eventually, each shift at one vertex inevitably triggers shifts by the other two. New York pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, not excessively jazz affined in her previous work, kept distant from this classic format hitherto--even when Tzadik's spiritus rector John Zorn kept on inciting her. On ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier – Mark Feldman Quartet with Scott Colley and Billy Mintz: Birdies For Lulu

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Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman are a dynamic duo within the neoteric strategies of modern jazz, coupled with their substantial artistic output. They intersperse classical inferences with shades of folk, avant-garde schemas, and bristling improvisational segments into the big picture. This incarnation of the quartet now features upper-echelon session bassist Scott Colley and venerable drummer Billy Mintz. Essentially, the artists enrich the avant-classical genre by cultivating an undertow framed on swing, bop and concise opuses tinted with the appropriate doses of razzle-dazzle and free-flight mechanisms. Birdies for Lulu is a revelation of unanticipated surprises via the quartet's seamless ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier – Mark Feldman Quartet: Hotel Du Nord

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Hotel Du Nord is shot through with heightened sensitivity. In the wake of To Fly To Steal (Intakt, 2010), the group did a series of European tours and this experience of playing together has resulted in heightened musical understanding. The quartet's musical currency--with the original lineup intact--is as informed by Twentieth Century chamber music as it is by creative improvised music, which means their work is about deft strokes as much as rhetorical flourishes. Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier's “December 2010" highlights this for all of her co-leader's heat. The compositional framework incorporates plenty of space, and all four ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Mark Feldman & Sylvie Courvoisier: Oblivia & To Fly to Steal

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Mark Feldman & Sylvie Courvoisier Oblivia Tzadik 2010 Sylvie Courvoisier--Mark Fledman Quartet To Fly to Steal Intakt 2010 The composer Olivier Messiaen might seem an odd vista from which to triangulate upon the spousal and musical partnership of violinist Mark Feldman and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, but at least from the vantage of their recent releases it's a point suggested by the artists themselves. Courvoisier's piece “Messiaenesque," assumedly titled for the 20th Century French composer, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier – Mark Feldman Quartet: To Fly To Steal

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Between the membership of this quartet (Mark Feldman, Sylvie Courvoisier, Thomas Morgan, and Gerry Hemingway) embodies the twenty-first century improvising musician. All four members have recorded before and in a variety of situations of wide diversity. They bring all of the experience this implies to a program that stakes out its own territory, and from start to end, has set out a potent collective manifesto.

Drummer Gerry Hemingway has worked with Anthony Braxton's quartet in the past and it's clear that the experience has rubbed off. On pianist Courvoisier's “Messiaenesque" he's a master of sound and what it can imply. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier / Mark Feldman Quartet: To Fly To Steal

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Violinist Mark Feldman and his wife, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier eloquently morph restraint, depth and a contemporary classical touch into the progressive-jazz idiom on this 2010 release. Respectively, the musicians are ceaselessly engaged within the new music style of jazz and improvisation, having recorded for several record labels, spanning several years. No doubt, the duo's venerable artistic propensities unravel in resplendent fashion on To Fly To Steal.

The quartet manifests a self-identity during these emotively imbued works, designed with asymmetrical pulses, and brisk unison lines to contrast improvisation-based call and response frameworks. It's an undulating program, kindled by Feldman's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ellery Eskelin/ Sylvie Courvoisier: Every So Often

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The improvisational intersection of American and European music exemplified in the recording Every So Often finds common ground without much trouble when the improvisers are Ellery Eskelin and Sylvie Courvoisier.

This hour of sonically stellar studio recordings never lacks for innovation nor repeats ideas. Saxophonist Eskelin, a jazz maverick is probably best known for his trio work with drummer Jim Black and accordion player Andrea Parkins, with their 'rock the Sun Ra casbah' music. His jazz roots are often times exploded into multiple directions of rock, improv, blues, and folk. On paper, he might not be a fitting ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lotte Anker / Sylvie Courvoisier / Ikue Mori: Alien Huddle

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On the face of it, Alien Huddle may seem like another notch on the belt for three well-seasoned veterans of experimental improvised music--each with her own language, capturing their collaboration and conversation in the studio, rather than in a club. Yet the experience of listening to this album proves that the meeting of these three musicians is more than chance, more than a mere session: it is a combination that works exceedingly well, an alchemic formula that smelts gold out of metals already individually precious in their own rights. Each musician has defined her improvisational palette into a ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio: Abaton

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Sylvie Courvoisier Trio Abaton La Huit 2007

Of all absolutely modern chamber music artists, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier perhaps comes closest to imitating the pirouettes, the leaps, the twists and turns of dancers' bodies. When she plays, her hands cross over as if the bodies of dancers were intertwined. This makes the experience of the audio recording of Abaton (2003), her debut for ECM, extra special. She must surely have envisioned dancers making their way to that mythical, forbidden land of “Abaton." If the music on the CD is extremely evocative, it is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier: Lonelyville

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Sylvie Courvoisier's work has come from a variety of angles over the years. She is a classically-trained composer with a strong ear for formal structure, an improviser with a strong sense of community and artistic relationships and an innovator whose work with preparing and altering the piano goes beyond the usual percussive effects to forge a new musicality on the instrument. All of those aspects of her work come together beautifully on Lonelyville, a fantastic and far-reaching suite written for a quintet with four of her longtime associates. “Texturologie, the first of Lonelyville's four pieces, sweeps over ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Abaton: Trio Sylvie Courvoisier

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Trio Sylvie Courvoisier Abaton La Huit 2004

Beyond her multiple talents, what makes Sylvie Courvoisier so exceptional is the integrated fluidity characterizing the various aspects of her work. As a pianist, she is skilled at classical as well as extended forms, playing inside the piano case and preparing the strings only as her sublime musical intuition dictates. Her compositions don't even raise tired questions about what's written and what's not or about the sort of notation used. The music makes so much sense as a whole as to obviate banal technical inquiries. The logic ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Zorn / Mark Feldman / Sylvie Courvoisier: Malphas, Book of Angels Volume 3

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The second book of Masada tunes--300 compositions John Zorn penned in 2004--is only revelatory for the most diehard of fans. What's more exciting over a decade into the Masada story is that new life has been breathed into the project. Following Book Two releases by Jamie Saft and the Masada String Trio, Malphas is a set of eleven of those compositions interpreted by pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman, a duo which has been one of the most exciting of the many performers of this music. Where other groups focus on the jazz or the upbeat ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Zorn / Mark Feldman / Sylvie Courvoisier: Malphas, Book of Angels Volume 3: Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier Play Masada Book Two

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Saxophonist/composer/entrepreneur John Zorn continues with his third in a series of releases dedicated to Masada Book Two--300 new compositions continuing the tradition established with his first Masada book, first introduced in 1994 with his flagship Masada quartet on Alef (DIW, 1994). Rather than using any single ensemble to interpret the new music, each album presents a different group. In the case of Malphas, Book of Angels Volume 3, violinist Mark Feldman and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier deliver an interpretation of Zorn's material as different as Jamie Saft Trio's Astaroth, Book of Angels Volume 1 (Tzadik, 2005) and the Masada String Trio's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier: Abaton

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It's a testament to pianist Sylvie Courvoisier's fine trio that the second half of her new two-disc set is as strong as the first. Violinist Mark Feldman, cellist Erik Friedlander and she have certainly logged plenty of hours together in different settings. The pianist's ear for composing for them shows through on the first disc and their shared sense of improvising shines on the second. Her scoring hand is so transparent and the trio so communicative, in fact, that the discs are surprisingly similar. The line between composition and improvisation, however, might not be so hard for ...



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