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Peter Madsen: Curiouser and Curiouser

Read "Curiouser and Curiouser" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

There are times when star ratings don't tell or can't tell the whole story. Five stars, four, three, two, billions upon billions of stars. Veteran pianist Peter Madsen's Curiouser and Curiouser is just one of those times. It's a great listen but is it an essential one? Without being too harsh, no. Is it a disc with plenty of repeat listenings in it? For many yes, for others, probably not. Sorry, but the star system isn't going to work for ...

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Peter Madsen's Storytellers: Curiouser and Curiouser

Read "Curiouser and Curiouser" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

In 2018 Peter Madsen released Never Bet the Devil Your Head (Playscape), a fine CD by his jazz-classical hybrid group, the Seven Seas Ensemble, that was dedicated to the writing of Edgar Allan Poe. Now he brings the jazz half of the Ensemble together for another set of music based on classic literature, this time, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Given the subject, this music has an understandably brighter mood than the Poe project. The “Alice" theme itself ...

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Peter Madsen's Storytellers: Curiouser and Curiouser

Read "Curiouser and Curiouser" reviewed by Troy Dostert

After devoting a number of his recordings on the Playscape label to the songbooks of Thelonious Monk (Sphere Essence: Another Side of Monk, 2003), Billy Strayhorn (Satin Doll, 2017) and even Elvis Presley (Elvis Never Left the Building, 2014), pianist Peter Madsen has since sought out literary texts for inspiration. 2018 was a particularly fruitful year, as Never Bet the Devil Your Head investigated the macabre works of Edgar Allan Poe, while I Ching went in a more philosophical direction ...

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Peter Madsen & Alfred Vogel: I Ching

Read "I Ching" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Even if it all turns out to be hogwash in the end, the mysteries of the I Ching--its divination powers, its myth and madness--have held the world's consciousness in awe and fear for at least three thousand years. These legends and provocations are explored with resounding depth and clarity on I Ching, with pianist Peter Madsen and drummer Alfred Vogel tackling a series of sixteen captivating improvisations, each predicated on a throw of the I Ching's coins and the variables ...

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Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

Read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" reviewed by Troy Dostert

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 ...

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Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

Read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" reviewed by Chris Mosey

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 ...

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Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

Read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

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, ...

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Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

Read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" reviewed by Don Phipps

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.

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

Read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

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 ...

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Peter Madsen: Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn

Read "Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

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 ...

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Peter Madsen: Elvis Never Left the Building

Read "Elvis Never Left the Building" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

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 ...

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Peter Madsen: The Litchfield Suite

Read "The Litchfield Suite" reviewed by Terrell Kent Holmes

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 ...


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