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.
That is marvellously obvious in the Herbie Nichols and Hassan Ibn Ali material. While most of this music starts far from the original idioms, it's amazing the way Madsen homes in, even homes into Nichols' style, and to an individual Monk-related style which presumably was that of Ali (whose one album with Art Blakey Madsen took years to findI've never seen it in over twenty years of hunting!).
Andrew Hill's music is individually recognisable too, but the pianist whose sound Madsen probably comes closest to overall is Randy Weston. Weston's later more African-directed music is less jazz-inflected than his much earlier, often light and melodic work. Weston came to sound a bit nearer some African pianists, and on the one Weston composition Madsen tends to sound a shade too much like a pastiche of Weston. Dick Twardzik's own all too few recordings are now at last available, and a lot of Mal Waldron is out there, though not I fear Hassan Ibn Ali. This is rather a suite of Madsen's music, based on at times distant originals, than a demonstration of top-line non-standard jazz piano.
It would also be good if some pianists listening to this set found indications of ways of finding a new voice on the pianoan individual voice, like one of these guys. The title (and title track) are indeed from Sun Ra. Others represented include Cecil Taylor ("Rick Kick Shaw is on the edge of bombastic, middle-period Taylor), Lennie Tristano and Muhal Richard Abrams.
Track Listing: Boo; Subterfuge; Three-Four vs. Six-Eight Four-Four Ways; The Bird Song; The Third World; Rick Kick Shaw; A Portrait of the Living Sky; Blues for Africa; The Girl From Greenland; Leave Me.
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand. Their massive record collection, my parents taking me to concerts and clubs (only one of five kids to do so), the Magnavox furniture stereo/radio ... it all added up. It was complex, emotional music. And it had rhythm! I drummed and followed the music through the '60s even as I enjoyed the new musics of my generation.
Along with side-trips to other musicians and music, it's been one hell of a pony ride ever since.