HowShallCoverOutside

I am happy and excited to announce my new solo piano album ‘How Shall I Receive You’ (SatnaMusic CD 151).
Recorded on March 2nd & 9th in the lovely acoustics of Temppeliaukio Church, playing on the church’s fantastic Steinway grand piano, I improvised on songs from the Finnish Book of Hymns.
Here is the ‘playlist':

HowShallplaylist

And here is a little video clip from the second evening of  recordings:

I hope you’ll enjoy!
The recording will be available from the usual sources (iTunes etc.) starting September, but if you’d like to have a copy sent to you earlier, personally, maybe even with a signature and if you enjoy beautiful covers (this one again made by Maarit Kytöharju), then just send an email to info(at)satnamusic.fi and you can already spend the summer with this beautiful music.

All the best,
Sid

Federation tour poster

Now the dates are set and a fine tour it will be, indeed:
The Contemporary Collective will perform eleven concerts in eleven cities during thirteen days in May.
The Finnish Jazz Federation in co-operation with SatnaMusic has organized a tight schedule for us, and provides us with the luxury of a tour bus and a sound technician.
Being chosen for a jazz federation tour is a bit like winning a jackpot, when for once you don’t have to do it all by yourself. The jazz federation office takes care of travel arrangements and accomodation, there is a public relation office, Creatika, taking care of the promotion and what’s best: you even get paid in the end! (Thanks to the support of the ministry of culture and various cultural foundations!)

So, we’re very much looking forward to these concerts and we hope to see you there!

May 5th Contemporary Collective Akustiikka concert hall, Ylivieska
May 6th Contemporary Collective Validi Karkia-club, Pori library, Pori
May 7th Contemporary Collective Pitskun kulttuurikirkko, Helsinki
May 8th Contemporary Collective Flame Jazz, Café Tiljan, Turku
May 9th Contemporary Collective Philly Joe’s, Tallinn, Estonia
May 12th Contemporary Collective Music college concert hall, Kaustinen
May 12th Contemporary Collective Conservatory concert hall, Kokkola
May 13th Contemporary Collective Nurmes-talo, Nurmes
May 14th Contemporary Collective Conservatory concert hall, Joensuu
May 15th Contemporary Collective Music center, Kuopio
May 16th Contemporary Collective Pikkuteatteri, Lahti

 

solo piano       DSC01516

I spent two wonderful evenings with my favorite grand piano in my favorite hall recording new improvisations.
Since ‘Deep North’ in 1996 and ‘Reflections’ in 1997 I’ve only rarely done solo piano sessions. Even on my solo album ‘ONE’ (2011) the piano sections were part of a greater texture. (I layered a host of other exotic instruments over each other, starting from theremin and percussion to iPod and ukulele.)

Having played solo improvisation matinees in the Temppeliaukio Church on a weekly basis since 2001, with the 325. concert coming up in summer 2015, it was a natural thought to want to capture the atmosphere of this unique environment on a new CD.
In recent years I noticed more and more often while playing that fragments of hymns would occur to my improvising mind, melodies I would then incorporate into whatever texture happened to be going on at a given time.
On the occasion of my 250. concert I had once planned to play a new hymn every week, the songbook number of which would be corresponding to the number of the concert. After a while, however, I found this concept too restrictive, as it wouldn’t allow me to remain as thoughtless as possible, to just be listening impartially to the flow of music pouring out of my hands.

So, now it seemed time to delve again (and properly) into this large repertoire of wondrous, mystical melodies, the Book of Hymns.
When playing through the book, testing the songs for angles on how to mold and customize them, turn them into personal statements of mine, I noticed how deep-rooted this music was in my system.
I had never considered church music to play an important role in my musical development, having moved from the Beatles to Zappa already in my early teens, visiting the Donaueschinger Musiktage, listening to Stockhausen, Ligeti and Schlippenbach for the first time in my late teens.

Now reading the Finnish Book of Hymns I didn’t of course recognize any of the songs from their name, but when I played ‘Nyt tahdon käydä vastaan’ and realized it was the song I knew as ‘Wie soll ich Dich empfangen’ (‘Oh, how shall I receive thee’), I got touched very deeply in a sort of pre-conscious spot.
I started remembering how I went to church with my parents as a small child, I remembered the hall, the lights, the uncomfortable chairs (previously benches), even the smells of winter coats the people next to me were wearing came back to me, and how we kids were hushed back to the sacristy while the grown-ups listened to the oh, so long sermon.

So, there I sat last week, in this magnificent hall with this magnificent Steinway grand piano, relating to my childhood memories and these melodies that are clearly a part of it.
Only in retrospect I realize how emotional and somehow integrating the experience of this recording session was for me.

I love recording. I love the state of concentration that comes over me like a warm blanket when ‘the red light is on – tape running’.
I love the act of improvising, inventing different chords on the spot, adding little interplays and textures here and there.
I am grateful to the Temppeliaukio Church and its administration for allowing me to play my music there.

Love and gratefulness – this is essentially what was there to be captured on those evenings and I sincerely hope that it will come across on the recording as well, inviting you to be still with me, to just listen.

‘How Shall I Receive You’ (SatnaMusic CD 151) will be available by June 2015.

 

Infinita

On Friday, March 6th, 2015 the Sellosali concert hall in Leppävaara, Espoo will have a very special visitor:
Infinita, my Finnish-Italian jazz quintet, will be performing music from our much-praised debut CD Time Continuum (2013).
The music is often aching, always lyrical and always executed with panache and finesse.’ This is, what All About Jazz-reviewer Anthony Shaw wrote in his four star review.

With all of the great projects I have going on at the moment (see Contemporary Collective and my Brotherhood), Infinita has a special place in my heart.
Infinita continues there, where we left it off with the Platypus Ensemble, when the band disintegrated in 2008.
The Platypus Ensemble and Infinita both are rooted in my 1970’s past, the time when I grew up in Germany listening to the fantastic records that were made for the ECM label: Keith Jarrett’s european quartet with Garbarek, Danielsson and Christensen, Ralph Towner and Oregon, John Abercrombie and Pat Metheny.

While my Contemporary Collective is conquering completely new territory between classical contemporary music, jazz and free improvisation, and while the Brotherhood may be seen as referring to the other great hero of mine, Miles Davis in the late sixties, beginning seventies, Infinita continues my quest for the ideals of chamber jazz, where I’m trying to compose material that allows for intimate conversations between the participating musicians.

This is the ‘Time Continuum’ that the title of our CD is referring to. I am building a bridge between some of the music I heard when I was a teenager, dreaming of becoming a musician, towards the music I composed when I toured Europe with my first great band, and on to the ongoing explorations of my own personal identity as a performer and composer.

The music of Infinita is characterized by a yearning, a longing quality, some call it the nordic melancholy.
Some of my favorite compositions are ‘Canciòn de consuelo’ or ‘Conversations in the ditch’, both are pieces we had played already with the Platypus Ensemble and I arranged and elaborated them for this quintet setting. I consider these pieces like jazz standards, they’re my own standards, by all standards simply beautiful compositions, and I couldn’t just let them sit there in the drawer and move on.

Of course there are also pieces written especially for Infinita and the particular sound of the musicians involved. ‘Dual Layers’ was written for our trumpeter Tero Saarti, conceived and performed at first as a big band composition, but then I adapted the piece for this quintet setting, with Tero kicking and seething his great solo lines.
For the warm and beautiful sound of Massimo Carboni’s tenor saxophone I wrote ‘Hanna‘ and ‘Night shift‘ (both tunes ended up in a film score I wrote around the same time) and I also adapted ‘Leonie’, another Platypus Ensemble staple tune.

The CD itself ‘Time Continuum’ is a kind of time and space warp. We rehearsed in Sardegna, Italy and played a few concerts there, then we recorded the CD in Helsinki and palyed a few concerts there, after which I went up to Oslo to mix the music with Jan Erik Kongshaug at his Rainbow Studio, the very same studio, where many ECM favorites of mine had been recorded.

‘Time Continuum’ also includes (for the first time ever on any of my records) a composition from outside of the band, and it’s no coincidence that it’s ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, my all-time favorite of the Beatles’ tunes.

All in all, it will be a great and beautiful evening, and I sincerely hope that you will be able to join us.

Welcome! Tervetuloa!

Dec 25 2014

Retro & Pro

First of all: Thank You!
Thank you for following this blog, visiting our concerts, buying our records – in general: for being interested in my music!

It’s been an amazing year in many respects, and at the same time an ambiguous one, too.
After enjoying the enormous privilege to receive a grant from the Finnish Arts Council for the previous three years, 2014 saw me at the mercy of the liberal market again.
I decided not to go back to teaching, but rather threw myself into the business side of music, even more than I had before.

The result was an incredibly productive year with two new records that received splendid reviews, two orchestral premieres, four active bands performing different repertoires all exclusively of my own music.
On the other hand, as the saying goes ‘The artist pays’, I could continue by saying: ‘I did so much work this year that soon I will be broke’.
I’m not complaining, I’m merely stating the fact that it ain’t easy these days to make a living as a creative musician, even when your work is well received.

Well, so much for the year gone by. Despite the challenges, I am deeply grateful for the beautiful response I’ve received after my solo concerts in Temppeliaukio Church or during the Contemporary Collective’s tour, for the glimpses of blissful presence with my fellow musicians, and I’m happy that some reviewers really understood what I am after.
I wouldn’t change any of this for a safer job in an office.

Which brings me to the prospects of the year to come, 2015.

I would have loved to record the Brotherhood and the Jazz Camerata, but until some great, wealthy jazz lover comes along to sponsor these fantastic projects (Hint, hint!), I will go with the most feasible and, in a way, also most logical idea: after thirteen years of playing solo piano improvisations regularly, once a week, in Temppeliaukio Church, I’ve decided to make another solo piano recording.
I will try to capture these magical moments at this fantastic instrument in this amazing space.
The church has gracefully given permission for me to spend two evenings in March at their glorious Steinway grand piano and currently I’m making a selection of Hymns and Finnish folk songs that could serve as points of departure for my improvisations.

Temppeliaukio Church

This might be a good moment for interaction with the audience and I’d like to encourage you to send me suggestions of pieces that you would enjoy to hear me play. If I know the song well enough, or I can get to know it well enough, to make a personal statement on it, it just might be a beautiful addition to the set I have in mind. (See the contact page for address details.)

On April 11th, I will perform the new program in an evening recital at the church.
Welcome to join the concert!
I will digress a little from the solo piano versions to be recorded, on the one hand of course, because I’m improvising and can never be sure of what ideas will come to my mind in the given moment, but also in respect to the choice of instruments. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, I have developed an interest in the use of electronica in recent years, so, on that evening I will include in the setup my Rhodes piano, effect pedals, a loop machine and other little gimmicks that are fun to use.

instruments setup

Other than that the year is wide open. The opera project sadly had to be postponed due to the lack of financial resources.
The Contemporary Collective will be on tour again in May, however, which is fantastic prospects, and another nice thing is the fact that Infinita will perform in Finland; so far, March 6th has been set at the Sellosali in Leppävaara. This is one beautiful band not to be missed!

Infinita

On that note, let me wish you a very happy new year 2015 and I’m looking forward to welcome you at one of my concerts.