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 Post subject: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2010 5:21 pm 
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Dear All,
Digging in my old stuff, I found some cassettes that I kept from a three-day session of recordings performed at IRCAM, Paris, in 1991. The goal was to make a CD containing jazz tunes and also some free improvisations. But there was little room on the CD for the impros, and most of them were unrealeased. Last week-end I tried to translate the cassettes into mp3 files, and I found the sound rather nice. For these recordings I had the chance to play on an excellent Steinway D, in a special auditorium where the nature of acoustic could be tuned by turning the pannels which covered all the walls.
Therefore I have selected 16 rather short impros, and I wonder whether they could feed the Improvisation page, which does not grow very much, but looks visited quite often (according to the statistics of the site, at least when the worked...). This is a first delivery of 4 improvisations. I hope you'll enjoy them !

The IRCAM sessions

Larrard - Opening

Larrard - Tribute to RB

Larrard - Introspection

Larrard - Prelude

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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 3:23 am 
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These are up, Francois. They sound surprisingly good considering they were converted from cassettes.

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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 8:06 am 
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pianolady wrote:
These are up, Francois. They sound surprisingly good considering they were converted from cassettes.

Thanks, Monica ! Yes, one of the main problems with cassettes was a limitation in the treble range, but I guess this part of the spectrum is also worn off by the mp3. However, many sound engineers still like to go from real sound to analogic to digital; the analogic recording is supposed to provide a mellow sound, while a purely digital is too harsh...

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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 8:55 am 
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"The IRCAM sessions" .... that sounds if it should be a CD in some "Legendary" series :lol:

Whenever I see IRCAM, I think of Boulez... Certainly these sound a bit serial/aleatoric to me. Very clever, if you can just sit down and improvise this stuff. Indeed, they sound real good coming from cassette tape.

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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 11:34 am 
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techneut wrote:
"The IRCAM sessions" .... that sounds if it should be a CD in some "Legendary" series :lol:

Hmm... Not yet, but let's remain hopeful !

techneut wrote:
Whenever I see IRCAM, I think of Boulez...

Certainly Boulez was not aware of his music center hosting some obscure improviser. By the way, Boulez claimed several times his lack of consideration for jazz music (including, I think, other types of improvisation), which did not prevent him to produce a concert of... Franck Zappa, for whom he has respect, if not admiration. Sometimes these great ayatollahs have some unexpected weakness !

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:04 pm 
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
Francois, these are terrific! In the first one, I thought maybe the juxtaposition of Cecil Taylor and Chick Corea was maybe a bit much, but I liked the return quite a lot. Some of the choruses of the blues were spectacular. It had sort of a "heartless-march-of-industry" feel to it, which is a time-honored French tradition! I especially liked the choruses where you abandoned the ostinato-like figure, but I also really liked the softer, more compassionate coda. I thought it was a real inspiration. My favorite, though, was the third, Introspection, but you probably could have guessed that. The expanse of ideas, the patience, and the subtly crafted shape are really first rate. The Prelude (well named) showed real mental virtuosity, despite the "tyranny of the barline". It is an improvisation that really could have been written. The ideas are perfectly clear, and the intent and form are perfectly transparent.

I appreciate your subtle in-between-like harmonic sense, with meaningful voice-leading on one hand and pedal points, ostinatos, or sequences on the other. I also like how your controlled creativity mixes with your "idea catching". It is one of the challenges of improvisation to be creative at exactly the right moment. It makes the music sound "planned", and gives the sense of patience, of being in perfect control; which is, of course, an illusion. This also shows that you have been a really good pianist for quite a long time! Some of your figuration I think is quite imaginative. It makes me want to experiment. Thank you for sharing these. Hoping all is going well . . .

Glenn


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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:39 pm 
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Thanks Glenn, I get confused by so many compliments :oops: I even would say that I've never found to date anyone so receptive to this music, which bores most of my family and friends... Maybe you need to be also a composer and excellent pianist to appreciate !
You're absolutely right when you say that the planned aspect is an illusion. One important thing, when improvising, is at the same time to let the music flow out naturally, while keeping a critical regard, trying to change the colour, the atmosphere when needed. As you noticed, I have learnt a lot from Chick Corea and Cecil Taylor. But the first pianist who gave me the idea to have such a free improvisation approach is of course Keith Jarrett. I still have a great admiration for him - even if sometime he may fall in some kind of bad taste for too sweet and consonant things (but thanks to this 'bad taste' he produced what is I think the most released jazz record...). Then, he may lack of this critical appraisal for his music (this is quite clear when you read interviews...), and the result is impros with some long, repetitive and boring sequences. However his first solo piano record ('Facing you') remains for me an absolute pinnacle of Music in general.
Do you know the French pianist Martial Solal ? Another great master on whom I built part of my approach. Perhaps he has the opposite defect. I mean he constantly changes his mind when improvising, as a child who would break each toy after only some seconds, to try something else... Finally, I find a similarity between free improvisation and physics with the concept of 'time constant'. Apparently each pianist (each musician ?) has his own one...

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:19 am 
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glenn wrote:
But the first pianist who gave me the idea to have such a free improvisation approach is of course Keith Jarrett. I still have a great admiration for him - even if sometime he may fall in some kind of bad taste for too sweet and consonant things (but thanks to this 'bad taste' he produced what is I think the most released jazz record...). Then, he may lack of this critical appraisal for his music (this is quite clear when you read interviews...), and the result is impros with some long, repetitive and boring sequences. However his first solo piano record ('Facing you') remains for me an absolute pinnacle of Music in general.


Hearing Keith Jarrett in the 1970's was a life changing experience. I believe it was Facing You that I heard. There were a couple albums before his Koln Concerts as I remember. His music always seemed to have a sort of funky gospel feel to it. But it was his grasp of structure and his imagination which thrilled me. I haven't really kept up with his career, but it was the seed he planted about free improvisation which was important for me. It has colored my creative life ever since.

glenn wrote:
Do you know the French pianist Martial Solal ? Another great master on whom I built part of my approach. Perhaps he has the opposite defect. I mean he constantly changes his mind when improvising, as a child who would break each toy after only some seconds, to try something else... Finally, I find a similarity between free improvisation and physics with the concept of 'time constant'. Apparently each pianist (each musician ?) has his own one...


No I don't know his music. I shall order something of his. Should I order his solo radio performances (Improvisie Pour France Musique) or something else?

Music and science is an interesting subject, especially when you get into the science of complexity. For me, I must assign the control of complex musical relationships to my subconscious. I keep my concentration glued to the present. I am not familiar with the concept of "time constant" of which you speak, but a mind in the present does feel constant to a certain extent. Dogen, who is responsible for bringing Zen to Japan, has an unusually complex view of time and how events have their own time. It ends up being quite "modern" when compared to modern physics. It is based on the Zen idea of focusing entirely on the moment and seems to deny the idea of cause and effect. Our birth does not "cause" our death. A seed does not "cause" a tree. These are considered complete events with their own time. If you look through a tube and a horse walks by, you would think that the head of the horse "caused" the tail, but this is obviously not the case. This means that there are an infinite number of "times" happening at once. This is complexity! This is also music. Fun stuff! Anyway, thanks again for posting. I enjoyed it!

Glenn


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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:31 pm 
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... and thank you for your so high concentration in listening and commenting !

glenn wrote:
Should I order his solo radio performances (Improvisie Pour France Musique) or something else?
Glenn


This CD is certainly worthwhile. It refers to a series of broadcasts at France-Musique, our national classical (and jazz) music radio. During a winter (around '1995), each sunday Martial invited a French pianists to play at the radio, and he played himself every second part of the concert. I had the chance to be one of these pianists, so you can imagine it is a very good memory for me !

Just a precision: Martial does not make free improvisation per say. He usually plays jazz standards or themes of his own, but his improvisations are so modern that often you are lost trying to hear the chords series. I like him very much as a soloist, but I think I prefer his trios. I know the two following CDs that are really wonderfull. The first one is an American trio (with the fabulous Peter Erskine on drums):

- Triangle (with Mark Johnson and Peter Erskine)

http://www.amazon.fr/Triangle-Martial-S ... 58&sr=1-38

and the second one is a European one (NHOP on the bass !):

- Suite for trio (with Niels-Henning Orsted-Pedersen and Daniel Humair)

http://www.amazon.fr/Suite-Trio-Solal-M ... 400&sr=1-6

Be prepared to be blown up !

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François
"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
François Couperin (1668-1733)


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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:25 am 
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Thank you so much! I will order them! And maybe the solo collection as well.

Best - Glenn


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 Post subject: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions - 2nd series
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:32 pm 
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Dear All,
Please find attached the second set of four improvisations, from the same '91 session at IRCAM. There may be more percussion and energy in these ones, with some echos either from Bartok/Stravinski or from the jazz universe...

Larrard - Tita Descending Minor Third (2:34)
Larrard - Risoluto (1:33)
Larrard - But what about (3:58)
Larrard - Funky Dance (3:45)

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
François Couperin (1668-1733)


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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:24 pm 
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I think something has gone wrong with these files during my upload. They won't play and I had problems with the ID3 tags.
Can you re-upload them please?

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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:40 am 
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Correctio... No don't re-upload them. I still have copies of the originals and these seem ok. I'll try the upload again.

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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:25 pm 
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Ok, these are corrected and up on the site.
Very clever stuff, briliantly executed and in very good sound considering the source. I can't say I like them too much, except for 'Risoluto'. Despite being a Bartok and Stravinsky lover, the idiom is a bit too strident for me. But you could have made a career in music !

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 Post subject: Re: Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:58 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Ok, these are corrected and up on the site.
Very clever stuff, briliantly executed and in very good sound considering the source. I can't say I like them too much, except for 'Risoluto'. Despite being a Bartok and Stravinsky lover, the idiom is a bit too strident for me. But you could have made a career in music !

Thanks Chris. Well, how many improvisers can decently live with their music - except the poor guys playing lounge music in piano bars ? Even in jazz, unless you play deliberately more commercial music, the situation is tough for the professional musicians... Anyway, music is first of all a lifestyle ("art de vivre"), isn't it ?

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"Je préfère ce qui me touche que ce qui me surprend"
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