120CD - Keith Tippett & Matthew Bourne - Aeolian - 2xCD plus download

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Description

Spanning a three-year period between 2017-2019, Keith Tippett and Matthew Bourne performed a series of two-piano concerts - nearly all of which were recorded. Discus Music is incredibly proud to make the fruits of this vital work available as a double album, comprising of two beautifully-recorded performances from 2019: a set of individual studio pieces recorded at Leeds Conservatoire is paired with a remarkable live performance from Daylight Music at Union Chapel, London; which sadly proved to be Keith's final public statement.

 

Keith Tippett - piano
Matthew Bourne - piano

 

We are also very lucky that Daylight Music, the promoter of the gig which features on the live disc in this double CD set, have now made this amazing video available.  Watch it by following THIS LINK.

Reviews

Piano duets form an important strand within Tippett's recorded legacy, as junior partner to Stan Tracey and contemporary of Howard Riley. Now, on this posthumpus release, Matthew Bourne eagerly assumes the tole of mujician's apprentice. Track titles allude to winds that blow in various parts of the world, the key image being the Aeolian harp, cherished by romantic poets as a metaphor for the flow of inspiration. These inspired duets sound so unforced and unconstrained that they blow fresh life into that well-worn image. From the outset, two quite distinct pianists establish common ground, where they interweave and spring surprises. It's wonderfully fertile ground too. Strings of scintillating moments bound seamlessly into musical mesh, now mysteriously chromatic, now alluringly melodic, fractiously dissonant, propulsive or ethereal. Tippett's speaking voice, heard fleetingly, suggests a degree of physical frailty, but at the piano his vitality is undiminished, and as he savours the mujician's company Bourne's playing has never sounded finer. - Julian Cowley, THE WIRE

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Aeolian is as two disc set. Together they are aural evidence of just how monumental creativity can become.  This is determined willpower challenged and held to the strength of its undertaking. At the time of the studio recording Keith Tippett had only one year left to live.  By the time of the live concert it was edging nine months.  Keith’s health was already worrying and Matthew Bourne should be credited as being one of those important people who encouraged the maestro.  He kept the focus alive and when necessary ‘flexed’ around gig cancellations, which Keith hated having to do. Aeolian is remarkable, not only does it give no indication of such a context it is one of the most enthralling recordings in a long list of exemplary lifetime performances. Keith Tippett and Matthew Bourne are totally in touch with each other’s inner muse yet have the indomitable strength of execution to play it out as revelation. In the studio, by the time the two pianists reach the 7th track, Bora, everything they bring as individuals has been assimilated into a whole gigantic roar from a joint spirit.  Dissonance and harmony are totally integrated within this huge wall of sound.  Anyone listening could be forgiven believing Tippett and Bourne capable of holding back the Valley of The Shadow of Death itself.  Ultimately they fail just like we all will, but here in July 2019 it is possible to believe that this is what they will achieve, maybe did achieve for a few months longer. Incredibly some three months later Keith and Matthew go out and play a live set in front of an audience at Union Chapel, London.  A concert so utterly convincing, it feels as if time itself has been halted in its tracks. Composing in the moment in front of a live audience is riding the relief and release of inspiration.  Within six minutes Tippett/Bourne put down their markers and move into the new territory of this particular piece, now named Sympatico. It is not easy to land on a direction with all the sonic motifs displayed at the exact golden moment but that is what happens here.  No wonder Matthew Bourne has expressed his own confidence in these performances.  They are works of such power it is hard to comprehend how they were achieved in the prevailing circumstances. To hear both men reaching the heights of their combined genie is mesmerising. I hope someone in the ‘establishment’ media press is listening to Aeolian.  By any stretch of the imagination, this double disc package should be Oscar-ed, Mercury-ed and given Platinum status.  Some recordings transcend even their own intent, truly this is special.   - Steve Day, September 2021 

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Between 2017 and 2019 pianists Keith Tippett and Matthew Bourne performed a series of two-piano concerts, and this double-disc set documents twp meetings of the duo, both from the last year of their partnership. the disc contains a set of none studio pieces recorded at Leeds Conservatoire, all of which showcase a formidable meeting of musical minds. Such is the level of empathy on display that it's genuinely difficult to discern with any confidence just who's doing what. One will declare blunt, emphatic trills, to which the other makes more diaphanous suggestions. Sometimes both get swept up in a whirling liquid vortex.  At times it feels as if they are gleefully finishing each other's sentences. The second disc is a 38-minute live performance captured in London - a non-stop barrage of ideas, beginning with cavernous chords.pinging player-piano complexities and finding room for the occasional dip into the blues. This show turned out to be Tippett's final public statement before his death in 2020. Its appearance on disc is a fine and fitting tribute to a true original. - Daniel Spicer, JAZZWISE

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Martin Archer's Discus Music continues its run of Keith Tippett releases with Aeolian, documenting Keith's collaboration with fellow pianist Matthew Bourne which started in 2017 and ran until Keith's untimely death last year. Aeolian is a 2 disc set made up of both studio recordings and a live set from London's Union Chapel in October 2019 which proved to be Keith's final concert performance. Disc 1 was recorded over 2 days at Leeds Conservatoire and consists of 8 duo pieces, all named after winds from various parts of the world plus a short solo piece by Keith to close out part 1. Etesians opens with a staccato flurry of notes and sets the tone for what proves to be an absorbing and immersing ride through everything from light zephyrs to howling gales and this continues throughout. Bise sees both Tippett and Bourne delving into the inner workings of their instruments; Bourne plucking and bending strings while Tippett modulates the sound of his instrument with his customary array of wood blocks and toys. Buran opens in imposing fashion with Tippett opting for a heavy left hand presence. All is not doom and gloom though and there are many lighter touches and even the odd snatch of humour here and there. I did wonder whether I was wise listening to this recording on the morning that hurricane Ida made landfall in New Orleans, and listening to Bora confirmed my suspicions. The piece seemed to encapsulate what was happening in Louisiana. Threatening at the start, one could almost see the storm building on the horizon, followed by the devastation as the wind blasts through the city before finally continuing on its journey leaving behind scenes of carnage. In contrast Samoon opens with Tippett playing variations on the 1st movement of Beethoven's Moonlight sonata with Bourne improvising gentle melodies which increase in intensity before gradually subsiding as the storm abates and the opening theme returns. The first disc closes with Something I Made Up, an exquisitely beautiful solo improvisation by Keith which restores calm after the intensity of all that has gone before. The live recording on Disc 2 was the final performance from a series that had started almost 12 months earlier at Marsden Jazz Festival and I was privileged to be part of the team that officiated on the day. That gig was Keith's first in 11 months the pair gave a breathtaking performance on that occasion. A year on and it is remarkable how much the pair's musical relationship has developed. The unbelievable level of cohesion in this improvised performance is remarkable. Changes of mood occur in an instant with some passages having a playful, almost nursery rhyme quality. The levels of almost telepathic understanding are astounding and remind me very much of Keith's long standing collaboration with Stan Tracey. Sympatico / Trade Winds clocks in at just over 36 minutes - around the same as the Marsden performance - and marks the final moments of Keith's long and illustrious career as a live performer and it is fitting that this piece ends literally on a high note. Aeolian, which will be released on 1 October is a wonderful and fitting memorial to Tippett's genius as a performer, and highlights Matthew Bourne's talents as a secure keeper of the flame for the future. Five Stars - Pete Woodman, EMULIJAZZ

 

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At Keith Tippett’s invitation, Matthew Bourne first paired up with him in 2016, the duo performing live for the first time at the London Jazz Festival in 2017. Almost all the music they made together was documented on audio and film, the most memorable moments of which appear on this double CD set. The first CD is a studio set from Leeds, the second a live set from London; both date from 2019. The eight shorter pieces on the Leeds set show well how the two pianists interact, their equally percussive styles nevertheless leaving the other plenty of space for manoeuvre. They also develop a widely varied palette of sounds and effects that they put to consistently creative use. The opening Etesians is hard and combative, while in Buran, the two circle each other with great respect, coaxing out gentle melodies and lullaby-like refrains that slowly develop a harder edge. In contrast, Brickfielder is flurry of cascading notes and heavy chordal interventions while Sirocco conjures up a proverbial blast of virtuosic performance. Bise is full of empty space, quiet interventions inside the piano lid and high-register keyboard notes creating an eerie soundscape that gradually builds up a repetitive momentum. Of all the pieces, Bora is the most abstract, dark, rolling arpeggios matched by an internal sawing at the strings that combine to chilling effect. Samoon ends the duos in almost romantic fashion, the two pianists waltzing together warily, while the brief Tippett solo Something I Made Up is nostalgic in its reverie. The continuous live set from the echoing Union Chapel starts slowly, once again the pianists getting to know each other. And then it menacingly opens up as torrents of notes pour down before more angular, aggressive passages appear that in turn give way to bowed notes and percussive noises from Keith that usher in a beautiful melody of delicate precision. What stands out here, as on the studio set, is that while the music threatens towards the atonal and dissonant, the two just about remain within harmonic bounds, creating a harsh, multi-faceted beauty that is compelling to listen to. But it is also poignant, for the live performance was Keith’s last public appearance, as he died in June 2020. This is a magisterial way to remember him. - Simon Adams, JAZZ JOURNAL  https://jazzjournal.co.uk/2021/11/01/keith-tippett-matthew-bourne-aeolian/

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This is a recording of two pianists working with some high cohesion vibes. I don’t know either’s playing well enough to pick them apart. I also don’t know how composed Aeolian is. For where it gathers density, in an ebb and flow of intensities over clear pulses, there’s a feeling that it could be highly composed — as with opener “Etesians”. By the same token, that same piece seems to pivot around someone introducing a melody from one of those piano pieces everyone can play. One piano is enough of a sound to quickly get very dense, so maybe the most remarkable thing about this music — and doubly so if it’s entirely improvised — is the restraint each player offers. There’s only so many sections where they’re playing in the same register and it’s only fleetingly; despite that there’s always a clear pulse and rhythmic variations, thereupon keeping the whole thing moving. Two players at the top of their game, basically, and some incredibly tasteful listening. Sadly this transpires to be Tippett’s last recording, but it’s quite a monument to his playing, right to the end — even if I can’t pick his voice out, this is some gorgeous music. Light and refined and fun and playful — there’s a music box “Love Me Tender” they extemporise over — twice — and a brilliantly warped improvisation on “Moonlight Sonata” (“Samoon”). It’s also got curious shape — the first part is a series of studio-recorded shorter pieces and the last thirty-eight minutes is a live show. So the recorded part runs the gamut of some industrial-for-piano / Iannis Xenakis in a bad mood rackets (“Bora”), to more conventional (albeit wonky) jazzisms (“Mistral”). The live show… well, it’s quite astonishing, a real tour de force of virtuosity, careful listening and inventive playing. - Kev Nickells, FREQ

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Aeolian presents Tippett in a piano duo with MATTHEW BOURNE..... The piano double was partly created in July 2019 in the studio in Leeds and partly live on 12.10.2019 in the Union Chapel in London, as it turned out, as Tippett's last public appearance. Eight winds harp the keys, with flickering pianissimo breath and crystalline tingling or tooth-wheeled purring and clinking, in shady heaviness, lyrical hovering, deliberate and restrained, permeated by melancholy and longing, by glass hardness, airy mildness, in sparkling flow, lively haste, wiry waving, grumbling, spinning, music box-delicate touching, even limping a little dance. Beauty and melancholy as icy twins. The concertante 'Sympatico / Trade Winds' emerges entirely from this feeling, from crystalline sparkling melancholy, pointed dancing in delicately clanging arpeggio garlands, tripping and in 3/4 time, rhapsody-in-bluesy, arm in arm, with pathetic beats, grumpy and lively rummaging, tightly gradual, in repetitions grazing on wires and moody tempo changes, with clinking sprinkles, harnessing handles into the inner piano, dark loops and drones, rattling shaker. From uncanny discord, bitter dreariness and goblin quirky tingling turbulence are released. The music box plays its earworm again, but it is slowly cranked, arpeggiovirtuos drowned out, danced over in a spring-sacrificial way. But melancholy lays softly and gently on the hands and finally dictates an upwards in the light striving etc... But you can just bow to Tippett. Simply divine. - BAD ALCHEMY

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Featuring Keith Tippett and Matthew Bourne both on pianos. One disc was recorded live and one disc recorded in a studio. Thanks to the ever-prolific UK sax colossus, Paul Dunmall, for turning us all on to a long list of British musicians, known and often little-known. I first became aware of UK pianist Matthew Bourne through a couple of excellent trio CD’s on the Edition & Foghorn labels beginning around 2011. That trio (with Steve Davis & Dave Kane) soon started to work with Paul Dunmall for a couple of discs for FMR. Mr. Bourne also recorded a couple of fine duo CD’s with Frank Vigroux (French avant guitarist) and Dave Stapleton (British pianist & head of Edition Records). Matt Bourne also came to NYC and visited the store quite a while back. It turned out that Mr. Bourne was also a John Zorn freak and had studied Zorn’s music in great depth. Bourne and I attended a Zorn duo gig at the old Stone so I introduced Bourne to Zorn in the basement of the Stone. Mr. Zorn was so much impressed with Mr. Bourne’s knowledge & questions about Zorn’s composing & playing, he invited Mr. Bourne to sit in with the duo that night. Hence the one & only trio performance by Andrea Centazzo on percussion, John Zorn on alto sax and Matt Bourne on piano. A spur of the moment idea that worked out quite well. Mr. Tippett and Mr. Bourne both played at the Herts Jazz Fest in 2016, met backstage and talked, Mr. Tippett asking if Mr. Bourne wanted to do a piano duo sometime. Bourne happily agreed and their first performance took place at the London Jazz Festival in 2017. Both the studio date (at The Venue in Leeds) and the live date (Union Chapel in London) were recorded in 2019. I’ve been fortunate to have caught Mr. Tippett live around 10 times  (in London in late ’75, at the old Knit in the 90’s, at the Victo Fest 3 times & in London in 2016). Mr. Tippett likes to use small percussive utensils inside the piano as we can see in the inclosed picture, as well as hanging a small collection of bells from the piano lid. I especially like the these two gifted pianists from different generations play together. They listen closely, take their time and work together magically, giving each other space to be themselves while weaving their lines around one another. Most of the pieces on the studio disc are not too long hence they sound more concise. Mr. Tippett has a distinctive way of muting notes by placing his hand or an object on the strings inside the piano. The second piece, “Bise”, sounds like both pianists are muting their strings together, the overall effect is striking. Midway through “Buran”, the tempo escalates and we find ourselves in the distinctive Tippett Terrain, where there are a number of furious lines spinning quickly together. Both pianists are playing so the lines are crisscrossing, the excitement factor increases higher. There are a number of moments/segments that are astonishing where both musicians are tossing lines back and forth and adding unexpected punctuation here and there. I’ve heard a number of piano duo records in the past but nothing really compares to this one. Just incredible! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

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Beautifully recorded, ‘Aeolian’ is a piano lover’s delight. ‘Etesians’ comfortably occupies the space provided by its eight minute length, dreamlike flurries of clouds, or snow, appear in the mind’s eye, fragments of grand themes appearing fleetingly, tantalisingly, it’s mostly about the notes rather than the chords, the touch, the texture, the resonance. Some thoughtful bluesy brooding darkens the clouds and, as quickly as it began, it is over, giving way to ‘Bise’, of similar length, rippling of the top notes building anticipation accompanied by what sounds like the rapid tapping of a piano lid and strings. ‘Buran’ is longer and gargantuan by comparison. So fast are the arpeggios and solos that the impression given is of a swarm of bees on ‘Brickfielder’ although the title suggests something different. Bora’ is an inventive and imaginative modern classical piece conjuring up images of a relentless piece of machinery, perhaps a steam train, both pianos producing an incredible deluge of sound. Necessary respite is given with ‘Samoon’, the ballad that follows which may be a hybrid derivation of ‘Moonlight Sonata’. I also thought I heard a music box being improvised over at one point on the CD. The second CD is one long piece (‘Sympatico/ Trade Winds’) recorded at Union Chapel in London in December, 2019 and a fitting swansong for Keith who sadly passed last year. Playful snippets are scattered through the music, ‘Bobby Shaftoe’, playground taunts, with meandering up and down the sonic range of the piano in thunderous steps, with deft soloing midriffs, mazy runs, a quintuplet of notes forming a rare ‘riff’, all parts of the piano employed including strings to create a harp-like effect, and even some atmospherics that might be mistaken for electronica. A beauteous passage of play appears on 20 minutes but the music is quixotic, ideas come and go like ships in the night, Waterfalls of notes and an extraordinary finale round off an exceptional piece. - Phil Jackson, ACID DRAGON

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