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This CD is the latest production by the small label Green House Music from Wuppertal, Germany - famous for its train which is suspended from a monorail. The cover of the CD explains it all: The Piano Duo: René Pretschner and Melo Mafali Live in Concert featuring Jennifer Lim: Jazz Meets Classic. This live concert was recorded in April 2002 by German radio "Deutschlandfunk" in the historic city hall of Wuppertal featuring the piano duo Pretschner and Mafali in the first half and a the classically trained pianist Lim in the second half. Due to the professional recording team and the two Steinway concert grands used, the recorded piano sound is flawless.
The three musicians represented here appear on several other Green House Music releases. Pretschner, a native of Wuppertal, joined Mafali, who is of Italian origin, for a trip to Cuba in 1996 to undertake some study of Latin music. This was followed in 1997 by their debut album El Latino. Another duo album followed in 1999. The second part of the program features Jennifer Lim, a Julliard graduate of Korean-Canadian origin who makes her home in the USA, who has also recorded a CD of classical works for the label.
The piano duo plays two jazz standards ("All Blues" and "St. Thomas"), one Latin standard ("Bésame Mucho") and three originals by Pretschner and Mafali. Lim plays a program of four original pieces written by these gentlemen. The original material draws on jazz, Spanish, Latin American, and romantic and impressionistic classical influences. Although "contemporary", the music is always melodic with harmonies to match; it stays well clear of "experimental" or atonal elements. This is intelligent piano music, performed virtuostically by the three artists. The interaction between Pretschner and Mafali as a duo is brilliant. They add a welcome new facet to the art of piano duo, which is all too rarely performed.
This review would be incomplete without mentioning an unusual element on this CD. Interspersed with the music in the first part are recitations in German by actor Olaf Reitz: one short text by Miles Davis (which can be found in the English original in the CD booklet) and two poems of Latin and Greek origin (sadly without English translation).
Live In Concert is recommended for listeners who like piano music and are open to look beyond the boundaries of jazz into the realm of modern classical music. For those who prefer to remain within the boundaries, the two main artists here have also recorded some recommended straightforward CDs on the label.
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.