Collection: Jazz and the City

Solo expression will reveal someone’s true character mercilessly. The fainthearted should abstain! Richie Beirach, New Yorker residing in Leipzig (Germany), most certainly doesn’t lack personality. His has been strengthened by forty years of practice in which he combines the discipline of a classical training with the vertigo of improvisation. These arguments work wonders with « Impressions of Tokyo » which fits in the « Jazz and the City » collection, already illustrated by his fellow pianists, Kenny Werner (New York), Eric Watson (Paris), Bill Carrothers (Excelsior), with Joachim Kuhn (Ibiza) still coming.

Richie has a deep knowledge of Japan – no less than 26 visits since the Seventies with numerous concerts and recordings – and doesn’t hide his admiration for its impressive culture and respect for art and music in all its forms. Under his fingers, Tokyo reveals itself in its duality, at the crossroads of tradition and modernity. His « impressions » follow like a series of snapshots presented in the form of haikus, the purest of poetic forms (3 verses of invariably 5, 7 and 5 syllables). Make no mistake; this freely chosen constraint enables Richie Beirach to go straight to the heart of the matter. Whether evoking the Japan of times immemorial – Kabuki theatre, stone gardens surrounding monasteries, flowering cherries, or even earthquakes …, or the Japan of today - the Shinkansen (Bullet train), Kurosawa’s movies, Takemitsu’s music… he appears alternatively sober, almost ascetic, or dense, searching the entrails of the piano. In other words: how can one translate, without betrayal, the Tokyoite soul and the daily life of millions of city dwellers? With this journey to Tokyo, Richie Beirach reaches this form of Zen serenity which is simply the prerogative of the greatest.

Producer’s comment: This recording was made in September 2010. Six month later, Japan suffered its worst disaster since the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. A catastrophe that took a triple form: earthquake of March 11th, the worst in a century, tsunami causing thousands of victims, major accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. « I would like to dedicate this album to the Japanese people and thus show them my deep affection, confided Richie Beirach. I sincerely and respectfully wish that this work may bring them a spark of hope in the face of this unprecedented tragedy. »

Choc Jazzman award Choc 2011 Jazzman award