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Improvisations - The IRCAM sessions

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Francois de Larrard, May 29, 2010.

  1. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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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
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    These are up, Francois. They sound surprisingly good considering they were converted from cassettes.
     
  3. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    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...
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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.
     
  5. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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

    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 !
     
  6. glenn

    glenn New Member

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    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
     
  7. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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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...
     
  8. glenn

    glenn New Member

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    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.

    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
     
  9. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    ... and thank you for your so high concentration in listening and commenting !

    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 !
     
  10. glenn

    glenn New Member

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    Thank you so much! I will order them! And maybe the solo collection as well.

    Best - Glenn
     
  11. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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  12. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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?
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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.
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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 !
     
  15. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    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 ?
     
  16. differencetone

    differencetone New Member

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    I'm listening to "Introspection" now. It's really nice work. Your timing is so accurate. When listening to these, I sometimes feel you should slow down the tempo a bit but maybe I just have a slower metabolism.
     
  17. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Differencetone,
    Thank you for your kind comment. Well, as for the tempo, you'll see there are also some rest moments... Variety is one of the qualities we should try to bring in improvisation, while keeping consistency and organisation in the musical development. But I will listen your music now !
     
  18. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi François,

    I listened to both first improvisations just because of curiosity. I was much surprised by how good they are and I liked them. I'm not so surprised by the very high quality sound: great pianist, great piano and great room (and likely great microphoines, IRCAM oblige), it makes most part of the sound.

    Moreover the cassette was not a bad medium when used in a professional recorder (Nakamichi for instance). The only performance of the Beethoven 6th symphony directed by Carlos Kleiber in 1983 was edited on CD some years ago from a cassette recorded during the concert by the technicians for the son of Carlos Kleiber because the main tapes were no longer usable. The cassette was and its transfer gave one of the most terrific Beethoven's 6th on CD, which wins the blind listening contest in this program from France Musique.

    Cheers,
    Didier
     
  19. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Didier ! I must give a precision concerning the recording technique: the sound was originally recorded on a DAT recorder, then transfered on a ferric cassette, and, almost 20 years after, read on a good cassette recorder and entered in a computer through an external sound card, then transformed in .wav file then transformed in mp3.
    The original recording was of top quality, regarding the early '90 state-of-the-art. Which is surprising is the fact that the cassette did not degrade too much. I'm not sure that the CDs we burn today will be still readable after 20 or 30 years...
    Regards,
     
  20. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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