Keith Tippett – piano | Giovanni Maier – double bass
Recorded live May, 18th 2012 at Teatro Miela, Trieste, Italy, during “Le Nuove Rotte Del Jazz” festival. Mastered by Maurizio Giannotti at Newmastering Studio, Milano, Italy. Artwork: Stefano Misesti. Cover: “Monocellule – Monotipo” 2009 by Adriano Gon. Executive production: Fabrizio Perissinotto.
Tracklist: 1. Two For Joyce [49:12]
The title “Two for Joyce” is actually a homage to the writer James Joyce, who has been both an inspiration and a passion for us: the music was recorded live in a theater in Trieste, Italy (where he lived for some time) where a life-sized statue in his honor was erected.
a backbone of English and European piano jazz/avant for more than 40 years and Giovanni Maier, one of the best and most respected Italian jazz bassists of the past two decades, have known each other for a long time. They played together in the past with Pino Minafra’s ensemble “Viva La Black”.
But recently, their mutual respect has launched a concert as a duo. This concert of May, 2012 happened in Trieste during the “Le Nuove Rotte del Jazz” (New Routes in Jazz) Jazz Festival.
“Two for Joyce – Live in Trieste”, a new cd from Long Song Records/Audioglobe is the successful account of their performance. 50 minutes of improvised music, a long track of music that shows the vast range of their abilities wonderfully. According to some, Tippett gives his best both alone and in a duo, which is not to diminish his excellent work to date in many ensembles. He is a profound and inventive pianist, austere and grandiose at the same time, as when there’s a waterfall of notes and sounds that only he can create. Pay close attention to his “preparations” on the piano which find an ideal parter in Maier.
Maier is as noted, dense, heavy, substantial and always lucid. A real maestro with his instrument. Coming together like this, they sweat intelligence and irony. It’s stimulating but it never loses that tension. It’s a musical adventure of great weight, a exemplary conversation of dovetails, of action and reaction. “Two for Joyce – Live in Trieste” is definitively a new and important piece in the great tradition of european improvisation.
born on august 26, 1965, he graduated at the Conservatory “G. Tartini” of Trieste in 1988. In 1991 he attended the summer courses at Siena Jazz and in 1993 he took part in a workshop with Roscoe Mitchell and Muhal Richards Abrams. In 1995 he took part in realization of the sound track (music by T. Tononi) of the film “Ketchup”, which was awarded the first prize at “Festival of Venice”, in the section concerning short films. On September 1996 he took part in a “Conduction” by Butch Morris at Podewil Theatre of Berlin. He also cooperated with the orchestra of Theatre “G. Verdi” of Trieste and Lyric Workshop of Alessandria (the first performance in Italy of a work of the german composer S. Matthus); he was also selected for the international Orchestra of Alpe Adria. On december 1996 he collaborated at the realization of the show “Ragazzi Selvaggi”, ballet on music by E. Rava, coreographer R. North, which was fist performed in Italy in the theatres of Rovigo and Treviso, with the participation of Tony Scott and of the Symphony Orchestra of “Teatro Sociale of Rovigo”.
He played with world-wide renown musicians: Enrico Rava, Gianluigi Trovesi, Cecil Taylor, Han Bennink, Franco D’Andrea, Tim Berne, Ernst Reijseger, Willem Breuker, Tristan Honsinger, Wolter Wierbos, Massimo Urbani, Giancarlo Schiaffini, Carlo Actis Dato, Antonello Salis, Maria Pia De Vito, Daniele Cavallanti, Tiziano Tononi, Claudio Roditi, Naco, Richard Galliano, Ellen Christi, Laura Culver, Sean Bergin, Tone Jansa, Roberto Gatto, Herb Robertson, Piero Leveratto, Renato Geremia, Guido Mazzon, Tony Scott, Lauro Rossi, Umberto Petrin, Stjepko Gut, Sandro Satta, Roberto Ottaviano, Yves Robert, Paolo Damiani, David Shea, Michele Rabbia. He has played in many festivals and reviews in all Europe (Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Greece, Czech Republic) in Africa (Tunisia) and Canada/U.S.A. He is permanent member of the following groups: Rava Electric Five (E.Rava, R.Cecchetto, D.Caliri, U.T.Ghandi), Nexus, Jazz Cromatic Ensemble, Quatuor (G.Trovesi, M.De Mattia, G.Pacorig, E.M.Ghirardini), Claudio Lodati Trio, Claudio Lodati “Vocal Desires” (C.Lodati, E.Christi, A.Rolle, U.T.Ghandi), Daniele Cavallanti Quartet, Saverio Tasca Trio, Lauro Rossi Quartet, Umberto Petrin Trio, Ettore Fioravanti “Belcanto”, Open Sound Ensemble. He also plays occasionally with the “Italian Instabile Orchestra”. At the present he is also working at a project for solo contrabass. On 1996 he was elected one of the best ten talents for year 1996, by critics of the magazine “Musica Jazz”.
Giovanni Maier | Photo by Joze Pozrl
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
James Joyce (1882 – 1941) lived in Trieste for fifteen years from 1904, where he completed A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and wrote most of Ulysses. Two statues, various tours around the city, and annual conferences now celebrate this famous resident. In May 2012, Keith Tippet (piano) and Giovanni Maier (double bass) played at Teatro Miela as part of the city’s “Le Nuove Rotte del Jazz” (New Routes in Jazz) festival, in a performance they acknowledge was a homage to Joyce “who has been both an inspiration and a passion for us”.
The most obvious inspiration is Ulysses, and Joyce’s famous stream of consciousness technique, his literary allusions, and mimicking of different genres – such as romantic novelettes, newspaper headlines, and advertisements – rather than Finnegans Wake, a book no person I know has admitted to finishing. One can hear the parallels in Tippet’s eclectic mix of styles – jazz (traditional to free), classical and popular music – where apparently disparate ideas from high and low culture flow into each other through free associations. The continuous performance of some 50 minutes – spontaneous and virtuosic – allows the duo to explore these to their full affect.
They open with undulating waves on the piano over Maier’s propulsive bass, and a run of notes picked out in the piano’s upper registers, until eventually brought to an end by a Rachmaninoff-like cadence from Tippet. After a passage of arco bass accompanied by soft chords, Tippet plays a folk-like melody reminiscent of Janáček’s piano music, but it’s true identity only becomes clear in Maier’s subsequent solo – Charles Mingus’ Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. The theme is taken up by both and concludes as a lullaby.
After some bowed harmonics and plucked piano strings, Tippet introduces a new passage with a staccato motif that sounds like something from one of Bartok’s piano concertos, accompanied by Maier’s skittish bass. The music builds powerfully, with jazz inflections and accelerates into a haze of tremolandos, before the motif returns. This then morphs into a repeated rhythm in the left hand with irregular accents in the right: an allusion to the Augers of Spring section from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
Tippet’s use of the prepared piano is not the multitude of incongruous sounds pioneered by John Cage – with various objects set in the strings – but a more selective treatment, placed and removed at will, which allows him to play standard and prepared portions of the keyboard at the same time. This produces a counterpoint of normal piano timbre and exotic textures, with music to match. After the last passage mentioned above, a gently rocking folk melody emerges, with the treated upper register resembling a cimbalon, and a delicate pizzicato on the bass which transforms the tune back into Mingus. Later, washes of sound at the piano’s lower end alternate with a gamelan-like theme in the buzzing upper octaves, until the cascades envelop everything and are joined by the sound of a harpsichord in perpetuum mobile. There are surprises and delights at every turn, and thoughts of Mingus don’t stop at quotation: Maier’s bass lines have that same solid, beefy quality.
In Ulysses there are tributes to maudlin popular songs, and at the same time a lampooning of the lyrics as overly sentimental. One doesn’t sense quite that edge here but as with Joyce, under the playfulness there’s a serious point being made. This performance is not a game of “Name the Composer” for music geeks (though I may have given that impression) but a genuinely inventive celebration of musical diversity which shows that the demarcation of genres is really not that rigid, and that the spaces between can prove just as interesting.
Two For Joyce, that’s James Joyce the title is referring to. And the ‘Two’ is a reference to the two musicians, pianist Keith Tippett and bassist Giovanni Maier, because Two For Joyce is one long (50 minute) improvised recorded live performance.
Captured May 2012, during the “Le Nuove Rotte del Jazz” (New Routes in Jazz) Jazz Festival in Trieste, a city Joyce once lived. The pair draw as much density as a Joyce novel, yet nothing is lost in translation from literature to jazz.
The celebrated pianist with roots in King Crimson, Soft Machine, and Mujician has been one of Europe’s leading free jazz pioneers. His recordings with Elton Dean and Paul Dunmall are legendary. His solo and prepared piano recordings like Mujician I/II and Mujician III (August Air) (FMP, 1987) are coveted items.
Teamed with Maier, whose solo The Talking Bass (Long Sound, 2010), compliments his work in bands Nexus, Daniele Cavallanti Quartet, Tiziano Tononi, and the occasional session with Italian Instabile Orchestra, the pair present a memorable evening. The music is unbuttoned throughout, Maier’s bowed and plucked deep bottom is the constant foundation for Tippett’s prepared piano that vibrates like a resonator dulcimer. The pair extend their instruments to insides and out, but mostly they opt for a conventional approach. Tippett favors both classical references and the blues, his musical leanings touch on Bill Evans and Bach. The pair drop names here and there, quoting “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” by Charles Mingus snippets from “Tea For Two.” While few of us can actually claim to have read (and understood) Ulysses, this interpretation of Joyce is easily comprehended.