Pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach
began recording in the 1950s. Twenty years into the new millennium, he continues to do so prolifically, with twenty-five albums under his own name listed on Wikipediaa seeming short shrift; his three solo albums on the Intakt Records label from 2005 and 2012 somehow didn't make the list, suggesting there are more. His profile rose in the 1960s, with his work with the Global Unity Orchestra and a trio with saxophonist Evan Parker
and drummer Paul Lovens
. And his work in collaboration with Parker and the world of free improvisation suggests some seriously "out there" sounds that are "fast, loud and intense."
But with his solo outings, that is not the case. Though known as an avant-garde-ist, on record von Schlippenbach has explored the more traditional sounds of Thelonious Monk
and Jelly Roll Morton
and, with his Intakt Records solo piano discography, he has delved into, again, Monk on Plays Monk
(2012), and a measured and often introspective beauty on 2005's Twelve Tone Tales, Vol 1
and Twelve Tone Tales, Vol.2
The creation of Slow Pieces For Aki: Piano Solo
was given a nudge by von Schlippenbach's life partner, pianist Aki Takase
, who questioned the necessity of speed, volume and intensity in the realm of free improvisation. Von Schlippenbach answers her question with twenty-one short tunesrunning from just over one minute to just over four minutes, ten of them improvisationslaid down with an almost religious deliberation, a measured music where every note rings with a sense of meaning and directness.
Solo piano is a special challenge. Every jazz pianist worth his/her salt goes there; Art Tatum
, Cecil Taylor
, Jessica Williams
, Keith Jarrett
, Fred Hersch
and more have navigated success at going it alone at the keyboard. To that list of solo stars, add Alexander von Schlippenbach, with his sixty-plus years experience in the crafting of compelling sounds, for his two Twelve Tone Tales
sets, and for his solemn sonic seduction of Slow Pieces For Aki: Piano Solo
Haru No Yuki (Frühling Im Schnee); Improvisation I; Torso; Improvisation II; Improvisation III; Tell You; Improvisation IV;
Cleo; Improvisation V; Naniga Nandemo; Improvisation VI; A-Blues; Blues b; Improvisation VII; I Told You; Improvisation
VIII; Improvisation IX; Dydo; Improvisation X; Frage Nicht; Zycado.