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In an interview published last November by Paul Olson, pianist/composer/improviser Greg Burk revealed a very telling musical approach. In the interview Burk states that he does not view improvisation as a manner of instantaneous composition the way many people often propose. He elaborated that the key to improvisation for him "is the tension between the improviser and his or her material. So if that relationship is completely fresh," he continued, "it's not like your delving into some kind of information you've accumulated. Then it creates a certain tension that to me is the real satisfaction in doing it."
Following his critically acclaimed Nothing, Knowing trio date with Bob Moses and Steve Swallow (also on 482 Music), pianist Greg Burk offers one of the more engaging solo musician efforts on his latest release, The Way In. Recorded back in 2003, one is privileged to hear these ideas at as he performs ten songs, only four of which were previously composed but performed more from a memory then a literal performance of notes on a page.
"Look to the Asteroid" is one of these compositions where notes on the page blur into a more aural fantasy for Burk. With a repeating left hand figure that almost entrances, Burk moves about the piano shifting time and place. The affect is a track full of invention that never loses its identity eventhough it is nearly eight minutes long simply because it never meanders or de-evolves into simple pattern making.
Nonetheless, "Wu-wei Out" is the defining track for Burk when it comes to improvisation according to his self penned liner notes. Similar in description to how Keith Jarrett would step on stage for one of his solo concerts with no preconceived notion of the music he is to perform, Burk finds pleasure in the clearing of one's mind where sound flows and the results are more than the sum of what produced the music in the first place. Burk felt he reached these moments on the day he recorded this cd, which also leads to its title. And it is not hard to hear why he feels this way. From the prepared piano pieces, to the abstractions of composition, to the purely improvised, the music on The Way In feels unique and engrossing.
It is this line of tension as described by Burk that makes this album come alive. Burk surmised his comments concerning improvisation by saying "Composing is an out-of-time process, as it should be, because you're trying to distill an idea to its clearest expression. Whereas with improvisingI think of it as trying to bring the moment into focus." When listening to The Way In, one can hear his attempt as the music flows from piece to piece and from invention to invention.
Track Listing: Paper Piano; Ballad for Gold; Look to the Asteroid; Ballad for sand; Walking the Earth; Wu-Wei Out; Serenity's Distant Dawn; Ballad for Water; What is This Key In?; Big Bird.
Personnel: Greg Burk: piano.
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I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.