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Jacques Demierre: The Hills Shout


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Jacques Demierre: The Hills Shout
Swiss pianist Jacques Demierre has a relatively small recording history considering that it dates back to June 1984. Along the way, it includes collaborations with such luminaries as Cyril Bondi, Sylvie Corvoisier, d’incise, Barry Guy, Insub Meta Orchestra, Hans Koch, Urs Leimgruber, Lucas Niggli, and Barre Phillips, in such fine recordings as Brainforest (Intakt, 2006) by the Demierre-Guy-Niggli trio. Since Assemblance (Unit Records, 1987) Demierre has also recorded occasional solo piano albums, with The Hills Shout being 2023's offering, following The Well-Measured Piano (Creative Works Records, 2019).

The Hills Shout comprises one forty-minute track which shares its title with the album. As on past solo albums, Demierre named the track after a poem, this time by the American poet Robert Lax (1915-2000). On January 31st 2020, Demierre gave a live solo piano concert at Offene Ohren in Munich. During the 2020 lockdown, he worked on the recording of it. Demierre said of that process, " The Hills Shout sounds like the live memory of a past concert. No new music is added, but all the sound material that was once produced is being reconsidered through the immediate and present experience of my listening imagination."

As it often has, Demierre's piano playing ranges far and wide, exploring every conceivable extended technique, and coaxing every imaginable sound from the instrument. So, the opening minutes could easily be mistaken for a zither recital in an echo chamber, followed by a performance of a long-lost Satie piece characterized by its sparse melodic passages. That tranquility is soon broken by a percussive assault on the frame of the piano which leaves it resonating, before the zither returns. Demierre's rearrangement of the concert recording ensures that there is plenty of variety throughout the piece, with some daring juxtapositions as well as some surprises. As a piece, The Hills Shout is grippingly captivating from first note to last. Connoisseurs of improvised piano should regard this album as essential listening. Not to be missed.

Track Listing

The Hills Shout


Album information

Title: The Hills Shout | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Wide Ear Records

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