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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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It isn't essential to be a fan of Edgar Allen Poe's uncanny writings to enjoy pianist Peter Madsen's musical tribute to the author, Never Bet the Devil Your Head. But readers familiar with Poe's disturbing fiction will absolutely appreciate the thoughtful touches found in abundance on Madsen's album. With the help of the Seven Sins Ensemble, an Austria-based octet Madsen first utilized on 2012's Gravity of Love (also on Playscape) that includes a string quartet in addition to standard jazz ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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Close study of the only existing daguerréotype of American author Edgar Allan Poe (1809--1849) reveals that he bore an extraordinary resemblance to British comedian John Cleese on a bad hair day. Could this be why, despite his many accomplishments, the modern world has trouble taking Poe seriously? Jazz pianist/composer Peter Madsen has no such problems. With this album he revisits a lifelong fascination with Poe and his gothic horror stories. Madsen explains, “Before composing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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Based on pianist/composer/bandleader Peter Madsen's extensive CV: Stan Getz, Stanley Turrentine, Dewey Redman, Benny Golson, Don Cherry, Kenny Garrett, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane, Maceo Parker, Bill Frisell, John Abercombie and the Mingus Big Band, it's not surprising and often brilliant that on his eighth release for Playscape, Madsen exhibits a nearly prog-rock, anything goes flair on Never Bet the Devil Your Head. Inspired by reading a different Edgar Allan Poe story before sitting down and composing, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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An album like Never Bet The Devil Your Head is meant for one thing--to get inside your head! And it succeeds admirably. Composer and pianist Peter Madsen's inspiration for the music came from several literary masterpieces by the master storyteller and poet Edgar Allen Poe, and each piece is titled after a Poe story or poem. Like Poe's strange and foreboding tales, these musical tales are equally strange and foreboding--but with whimsy, beauty, and a touch of the macabre.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen's Seven Sins Ensemble: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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Pianist Peter Madsen has come up with a novel idea for a jazz record: A Tribute to Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849), America's founding father of macabre/horror fiction. Bringing together a jazz quartet--piano/bass/drums/trumpet--and a string quartet, Madsen and his Seven Sins Ensemble capture the moods and atmospheres of some of the author's better-known tales on Never Bet The Devil You Head. Madsen's translation of Poe's most famous poem, “The Raven," sets the stage for the program. The string quartet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn

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The true beauty and utility of the Great American Songbook is the durability of the music in response to interpretation, often jarring and drastic. French pianist Martial Solal made a master's class of demonstrating the music's vitality on his uniformly excellent Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can't Give You Anything But Love (CAM Jazz, 2009). On that recording, Solal so deliberately and completely deconstructed Tin Pan Alley, that he created a new lens through which to pass these old ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Elvis Never Left the Building

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The route through Graceland to a jazz concept album is a treacherous one. Popular music icons of varying styles--such as the Beatles and Joni Mitchell--have been transcribed with varying degrees of success. The more successful interpretations of The Crimson Jazz Trio benefited from their actual ties to King Crimson and outstanding musicianship. Now, pianist Peter Madsen's CIA Trio ventures into potentially contentious territory with Elvis Never Left the Building and pulls off a brilliantly executed coup. Madsen re-harmonizes ten Elvis ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: The Litchfield Suite

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Peter Madsen fortified an already solid reputation with a pair of stellar solo piano works in the last decade: Sphere Essence: Another Side of Monk (2003) and Prevue of Tomorrow (2006), both on Playscape. Now he works his magic with bassist Andy McKee and drummer Gerald Cleaver on The Litchfield Suite, a vibrant performance captured live at the Litchfield Jazz Festival and Camp, where Madsen has performed and taught for several years. The songs on The Litchfield ...

INTERVIEWS

Peter Madsen: Comfortable Inside and Out

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Pianist Peter Madsen is well rounded in his jazz foundation, having played inside the mainstream and outside. He has the knowledge, musicianship and technique for both, and in fact says he comes by it honestly, being attracted to both sides as a youngster.

“I can tell you the first two records I bought. Maybe that's why I've been fascinated with both sides of jazz, straight ahead and very avant-garde things. That was Oscar Peterson Night Train (Verve, 1962) ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Prevue of Tomorrow

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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 ...