|Sylvie Courvoisier — Mark Feldman Quartet. — Birdies for Lulu |
Sylvie Courvoisier — Mark Feldman Quartet. Birdies for Lulu
Born: November 30, 1968
Origin: Lausanne, Switzerland
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Album release: May 3, 2014
Record Label: Intakt (CD 230)
1. Cards for Capitaine Part 1 (Feldman) 1 : 45
2. Cards for Capitaine Part 2 (Feldman) 4 : 03
3. Cards for Capitaine Part 3 (Feldman) 6 : 54
4. Shmear (Mintz) 8 : 03
5. Natarajasana (Feldman) 9 : 15
6. Downward Dog (Courvoisier) 4 : 03
7. Birdies for Lulu (Courvoisier) 5 : 15
8. Travesuras (Courvoisier) 6 : 39
9. Coda for Capitaine (Feldman) 3 : 51
° Sylvie Courvoisier — Piano
° Mark Feldman — Violin
° Scott Colley — Bass
° Billy Mintz — Drums
° This recording is dedicated to Yves Ramseier
° Recorded by James Farber at Sear Sound, NYC, November 27, 2013.
° Mixed by Marc Urselli, mastered by Scott Hull. Liner notes: Kevin Whitehead. Cover
art: Mario Del Curto. Photo: Caroline Mardok. Graphic design: Jonas Schoder.
° Produced by Mark Feldman, Sylvie Courvoisier and Intakt Records:
Intakt CD 230 / 2014
Description from booklet:
° Birdies for Lulu unveils a revamped Sylvie Courvoisier — Mark Feldman quartet, with
the much sought-after bassist Scott Colley and drummer Billy Mintz, and it feels like a
fresh start. Mark Feldman: “When we made the switch, the music took a much different turn — which is at should be, when 50 percent of the band is different.” The music pianist Courvoisier and violinist Feldman make together often references jazz and modern European/American composed music. On Lulu those recombinant strains sound crisper, more concise and focused than before. Also funnier and more swinging.
° The opening chapter of Mark’s suite “Cards for Capitaine” sets the tone: a modern
boogie beat for unison bass and piano, Mintz’s brushes pushing without crowding,
Feldman pizzing in time, then double–stopping microtonal arco shmears, screeching,
sawing wood and pulling teeth. “Rehearsing it, I usually played lines over the
chords, but it started to seem too obvious. I started playing noises instead, as kind of a joke, but then I got serious about it.”
° “Cards for Capitaine” is for a late Swiss friend of the co–leaders, Yves Ramseier,
expert in ancient languages like Sanskrit. To compose it, Feldman quickly sketched
out notated or verbal directions for longer or shorter musical episodes on index
cards. The players spent a couple of days rehearsing. Then, just before they recorded,
Feldman shuffled the cards. “But indeterminacy let me down a little,” he says
with a laugh, so he did some discreet re–ordering while editing — reimposing his
compositional sensibility onto randomized (and improvised) content. The Capitaine
coda that ends the program includes snippets of music already heard, isolated and
looped in alongside fresh material from the index cards — including most of that
pileup of false and slapstick endings.
° Restricting thematic material to what fits on a card accounts for much of the focused
clarity in a suite where some vignettes fly by and others give players room to stretch. There are lovely quiet moments, like the duet that ends Part 2: Sylvie uses piano as an autoharp, strumming strings with one hand as she fingers keyboard chords with the other, while the violinist plays flautando — bowing gently over the fingerboard, for a hollow tone like Zamfir’s panpipe. At the top of Part 3 piano be–comes Blind Willie Johnson’s slide guitar, and then everything goes Euro–romantic. In Courvoisier’s stormy chords, you can see clouds racing against the moon, as drapes stir in the breeze by an open balcony; violin and bowed bass violin play a canon in undulating oceanic motion, repainting Debussy’s blue sea.
° As noted, there are swinging episodes too, on and off the cards. Mintz’s “Shmear” launches the band out of the gate, airborne on his tangy ride cymbal. But then it takes an unexpected turn, grand piano announcing an imminent hymn or anthem that never arrives. In its place, fireworks in a night sky are depicted by streaking violin, bass moaning, and Mintz making low toms resonate like giant frame drums. Courvoisier strikes low keys with one hand while the other stops harmonic nodes on the fat strings, for George Crumb–like cathedral–bell harmonics.
° The puckish waltz “Downward Dog,” introducing an unofficial Sylvie suite, is a sort of mid-program reboot — the start of the album’s flipside if you like. Once past that madly wide–leaping and un–violinistic melody that Feldman pulls off with aplomb, it’s a vehicle for Courvoisier’s piano, and an object lesson in what she got from Monk in terms of open space, dense harmony, and the importance of finding your own voice. Springy bass and drums keep it buoyant.
° Her “Birdies for Lulu” grew out of a request from another Swiss friend, the maker of astonishingly detailed, spookily animate automatons François Junod, to write calls for two mechanical birds he’s building. “The beginning is a kind of transcription of three birds from the forest behind my brother’s house in Colombier, near Neuchâtel. After I got back home to Brooklyn, I decided to re–use some of that material for a quartet piece. My cat Lulu got really excited hearing birdcalls coming from the piano!” Those calls sound especially stark, redder in beak and claw, played in excited unison with violin — but then these two always sound great, congregating around piano’s top notes. (Mintz’s soft cymbal rolls likewise coax out bright metallic overtones.) The Messiaen comparisons write themselves.
° “Travesuras” derives its name from a Mario Vargas Llosa novel Sylvie had been reading, Travesuras de la niña mala: in English, The Bad Girl. “Travesura” means a prank or antic, fittingly enough for this album in general, and a particular piece that plays slippery escalation games with dynamics and tempo. But the composer says, really she just likes the sound of the word.
° Various factors bind these pieces thematically — frequent unisons involving three pairs of players, the use of pure sound within or alongside tonal play, enigmatic shifts in direction, and Mintz’s birdlike brushes. The drummer is hard swinger and tasty colorist both, and links up beautifully with the bassist. Colley’s sure arco is a perfect complement to Feldman’s violin, but Scott’s pizzicato tone sings sweetly too. For that hear his solo on Mark’s “Natarajasana” (a Sanskrit word, callback to the Capitaine, and like “Downward Dog” the name of a yoga pose). “Natarajasana” is the calm eye at the center of an album that plays like an extended, integrated suite. Feldman who sequenced Lulu can hear that’s how it turned out, although he hadn’t planned it that way. These players (and composers) are so in tune, they bake in unity even without conscious intent.
° Kevin Whitehead (Author of Why Jazz? A Concise Guide (Oxford))
For info and promo, please contact:
Sarah Turin: +41 21 619 45 21
| Association Mû
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° Sylvie Courvoisier is a pianist, improviser and a composer. Since 1995, Courvoisier has been touring widely with her own groups and as a side person in USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Courvoisier moved to New York in 1998 and has resided in Brooklyn since. In addition to leading and co–leading several groups, Courvoisier has recorded over 40 records for different labels, notably ECM, Tzadik, and Intakt Records.
° She has performed and recorded with John Zorn, Mark Feldman, Yusef Lateef, Ikue Mori, Tony Oxley, Tim Berne, Joey Baron, Joëlle Léandre, Herb Robertson, Butch Morris, Evan Parker, Mark Dresser, Ellery Eskelin, Lotte Anker, Fred Frith, Michel Godard, and Tomazs Stanko among others.
° Courvoisier has been commissioned to write music for concerts, radio, dance, and theater. Her works include:"Concerto for electric guitar and chamber orchestra"; and "Balbutiements" for vocal quartet and soprano. She has been commissioned by the Vidy Theater of Lausanne, Pro Helvetia, and Germany's Donaueschingen Musiktage Festival.
° Her latest releases as a leader include a DUO album with violinist Mark Feldman "Live at Theater Vidy–Lausanne" on Intakt Records (2013). Courvoisier also has two new albums which will be released in the spring of 2014. These albums are: Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman New QUARTET featuring Scott Colley and Billy Mintz "Birdies for Lulu" on Intakt Records (2014) and Sylvie Courvoisier TRIO featuring Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress "Double Windsor" on Tzadik Records (2014). Courvoisier also recorded a new DUO album in October 2013 with the British saxophonist Evan Parker which will be released by Relative Pitch Records.
° Currently, Courvoisier is the leader of her TRIO with Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress; she co-leads the Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman New QUARTET with Scott Colley and Billy Mintz; and she also performs SOLO.
° Since 1997, she has been performing in the Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman DUO.
° Since 2000, she has been a member of Mephista, an improvising TRIO with Ikue Mori, and Susie Ibarra.
° Since 2010, she has been touring and working as a pianist and composer with flamenco dancer Israel Galvan's new project "LA CURVA".
° Courvoisier also plays and tours in different projects with John Zorn including Cobra, Masada Marathon, Femina, Dictée, and Improv.
° She is also a Sideman of Erik Friedlander's Trio and Herb Robertson Quintet.
| | Awards include Switzerland's 1996 Prix des jeunes créateurs, Zonta Club's 2000 Prix de la Création, Switzerland's 2010 Grand Prix de la Fondation Vaudoise de la Culture and 2013?s NYFA (NewYork Foundation For the Art) Music/Sound Fellowship.
° « ...That her music is as aesthetically beautiful as it is strange and mysterious is only further testament to her prowess as a composer. That this trio plays her music as if it has been creating it from the air is nothing short of remarkable. Abaton is Courvoisier's crowning achievement thus far, and this group points her firmly forward in a direction where everything is still possible, demonstrating that there is something new under the sun in classical music and improvisation. Perhaps Abaton is the great moment of 2003 for new classical music. » — Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
° « Courvoisier's playing is jaw-dropping at times, and there's an extended passage that features her working both inside and on the keyboard of the piano interacting with Rainey and the others in subtle combinations, and working up to a terrifying free jazz piano freakout that could make a person faint!» — Michael Anton Parker, 2005
° "Galvan n'est pas seul sur le plateau, même si sa folle solitude y explose. Il est encadré par une table et un piano. D'un côté, une famille recomposée prend place avec la chanteuse flamenca Inès Bacan et son "écuyer du rythme", Bobote, auxquels vient se joindre Galvan en fils spirituel attentif. De l'autre, une femme jeune et aventureuse, la pianiste Sylvie Courvoisier, s'arrime à son instrument pour en faire crépiter les touches, claquer les cordes dans une partition sauvage et sophistiquée. .." — Le Monde, 17.01.2012
° « This highly original and new music has it all: razor–sharp edges, sounds of a thousand dancing needles, thundering power arising from deeply yawning chasms, mystic fluorescence throughout, calmness combined with a mysterious kind of moving» — Henning Bolte, 5/2007
° « …Dans un autre pays que la Suisse, elle serait adulée comme une des plus importantes plumes musicales de son temps. Elle recevrait tous les prix envisageables, n'aurait plus à se faire du souci pour les trente années à venir. Mais elle a décidé de vivre outre-Atlantique. Elle est notre ambassade, mieux que quiconque.... » — Arnaud Robert, Le Temps, 2005
° "Birdies for Lulu" unveils a revamped Sylvie Courvoisier — Mark Feldman quartet, with the much sought–after bassist Scott Colley and drummer Billy Mintz, and it feels like a fresh start. Mark Feldman: "When we made the switch, the music took a much different turn — which is at should be, when 50 percent of the band is different."
° The music pianist Courvoisier and violinist Feldman make together often references jazz and modern European/American composed music.
° Kevin Whitehead writes in the liner notes: «On Lulu those recombinant strains sound crisper, more concise and focused than before. Also funnier and more swinging.»
° «Birdies for Lulu» präsentiert ein neu besetztes Sylvie Courvoisier — Mark Feldman Quartett — mit dem gefragten Bassisten Scott Colley und dem Schlagzeuger Billy Mintz, und es ist ein Neuaufbruch. Mark Feldman: «Mit der Neubesetzung ging die Musik in eine ganz andere Richtung — und so sollte es ja auch sein, wenn die Hälfte der Band ausgewechselt ist.»
° Die Musik, die die Pianistin Courvoisier und der Violinist Feldman zusammen machen, nimmt oft Bezug auf Jazz und moderne europäische/ amerikanische komponierte Musik.
° Kevin Whitehead schreibt in den Linernotes: «Auf Lulu hören sich diese rekombinanten Stämme frischer, präziser und konzentrierter an als bisher. Und auch witziger und swingender.»
| Selected Discography:
LIVE AT THEATRE VIDY — LAUSANNE — Sylvie Courvoisier — Mark Feldman Duo (Intakt 2013)
CLAWS & WINGS — Erik Friedlander — Ikue Mori — Sylvie Courvoisier (2013)
HOTEL DU NORD — Sylvie Courvoisier Mark Feldman Quartet (Intakt 2011)
TO FLY TO STEAL — Sylvie Courvoisier Mark Feldman Quartet (Intakt 2010)
OBLIVIA — Mark Feldman & Sylvie Courvoisier (Tzadik 2010)
DICTEE/LIBER NOVUS — John Zorn(Tzadik 2010)
FEMINA — John Zorn (Tzadik 2009)
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE — Courtois, Courvoisier & Eskelin (Cam Jazz 2008)
EVERY SO OFTEN — Ellery Eskelin & Sylvie Courvoisier (Prime Source 2008)
SIGNS AND EPIGRAMS — Sylvie Courvoisier solo (Tzadik2007)
LONELYVILLE — Sylvie Courvoisier Quintet with Mori, Feldman, Courtois, Cleaver (Intakt 2008)
REAL ABERATION — Herb Robertson — NY Downtown Allstars (clean Feed 2007)
MALPHAS — Mark Feldman & Sylvie Courvoisier, music of John Zorn-Book of Angels (Tzadik 2006)
ABATON — Sylvie Courvoisier Trio feat. Feldman, Friedlander (ECM Records, 2cd 2004 )
MASADA RECITAL — Sylvie Courvoisier & Mark Feldman , music of John Zorn (Tzadik 2004)
ENTOMOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS — Mephista (Courvoisier, Mori, Ibarra) (Tzadik 2004)
DEUX PIANOS — Sylvie Courvoisier , Jacques Demierre (Intakt, 2000)
MUSIC FOR BARREL ORGAN, PIANO, TUBA, BASS AND PERCUSSION — Sylvie Courvoisier Ocre (Enja, 1997)
|Sylvie Courvoisier — Mark Feldman Quartet. — Birdies for Lulu |