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One of the more promiscuous violinists on the scene today, Mark Feldman has always strived to combine the unusual with the familiar. He's come a long way from his roots as a Nashville studio musician, recording with country giants such as Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, to his more recent forays on the New York avant-improv scene with neo-giants like John Zorn and Tim Berne. Feldman's new record, Music for Piano and Violin, represents a logical progression from his 1995 Tzadik solo release Music for Violin Alone, though it's unfortunate he didn't find more clever names for these records.
On the new Avant release, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier joins Feldman in a series of refined duets. Performed with an attitude of sophistication, these composition-heavy duets betray influences from (and occasionally use direct references to) the European classical tradition, particularly French impressionism. Feldman's playing, crystalline but fluid, evokes an intimate chamber music aesthetic. Courvoisier covers the range from lush chordal progressions to punchy clusters to light prepared-piano tinkles, constantly evolving a florid sense of drama. While the balance of improvisation and composition on this record tilts more toward the latter than usual, it's quite a refreshing change.
Track Listing: Smoke; One Too; Too Romantisch Too; Too Speedy; La Goualante de l'Idiot; Kit; Les Tenebrides; Murmur; Luna
Park; Gugging; Dog Town Road; Valse Nise; Terre d'Agala.
Personnel: Mark Feldman: violin; Sylvie Courvoisier: piano.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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