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Sullivan Fortner | New Morning Paris

Starting on December 03, 2023 7:30 pm
Posted by Daniel McCullough
Categories: PianoFest
Tags: Jazz

Sullivan Fortner at New Morning Paris

Sunday, December 3, 2023
7:30 PM (GMT +1)

(The following has been translated from French using Google Translate.)
Unanimously celebrated by his peers as one of the most brilliant pianists of his generation, Sullivan Fortner today, published with "Solo Game" a particularly stimulating double-album which, in its stylistic eclecticism assumed, sounds in many ways as an authentic aesthetic manifesto. Presenting, as a mirror, a fantastic solo opus crossing through the entire history of the piano-jazz and an experimental electro-acoustic work constantly surprising and perfectly insitutable, this hybrid collection offers Sullivan Fortner the opportunity to misrepresent tradition and modern dialogue and to replace the heart of jazz and its active principles.
It is in this dynamic that "Solo Game" is today that Sullivan Fortner clearly conceived as the fusion between a "Solo" part inscribed with a mixture of humility, maturity and audacity in the great tradition of the solo piano and a "Game" part developing from a multitude of keyboards and electronic effects a fericing and playful universe.

Designed in close collaboration with pianist Fred Hersch, who laid down the rules and provided the artistic direction, "Solo" is in itself an event since it marks the great phonographic debut of Sullivan Fortner in this always perilous (and decisive in a career) of the absolute solo. A subtle cocktail of rare standards and themes borrowed from a wide variety of styles, the repertoire was decided in several stages. Fred Hersch first asked Fortner to provide him with a list of his favorite songs, in which he made an initial selection. Then four recording sessions were scheduled during which Hersch each time offered 6 tracks drawn from this second list, the game being for Fortner to offer a quick, unprepared and no possibility of a second take.

Then four recording sessions were scheduled during which Hersch each time offered 6 tracks drawn from this second list, the game being for Fortner to offer a quick, unprepared and no possibility of a second take. At the finish, 24 tracks were recorded under these particular conditions, among which Fred Hersch finally chose the 9 pieces constituting the album. Moving with maestria from I don't Know What Time it Was by Rodgers and Hart; "Come Sunday" by Duke Ellington; "This is Now" by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin) to much more obscure themes (including the very surprising "Serbian Children" by Randy Weston) while allowing himself some forays on the side of the Wondery Wonder's from Jobim ("Once I Loved") to deconstruct all stylistic expected - Sullivan Fortner shows itself throughout both absolute freedom in the treatment of shape and total linguistic coherence. Putting the sophistication of his harmonic science, the audacity of his polyrhythmic designs, the fluidity and dynamism of his phrasing, the crystalline purity of his sonority, at the service of his thematic material to reveal each time unexpected lines of force from which to develop in intense improvisations of very personal scenarios, Sullivan Fortner offers there

From a completely different nature and so to speak to the opposite in this scholarly way of inscribing one's creative gesture in a dialectical relationship with the past, "Game" surprises and seduces by its radically experimental and playful dimension by proposing perfectly unclassifiable and unclassifiable and insituable sound and idiomatic territories in the contemporary musical landscape. Exploring the sonic and expressive potentialities of an impressive array of instruments ranging from the Fender Rhodes to the Hammond B3 organ to the traditional piano, Moog, vocoder, celesta, carillon, drums and a multitude of various percussions, Sullivan Fortner develops in this atypical disc shimmering sound landscapes as spontaneous as admirably. Starting from a corpus consisting of both totally written songs ("Its a Game", "Snakes and Ladders", "Cross and Circles" and of course "The Minute Waltz" borrowed from Frédéric Chopin) and other improvised first on piano and "orchesters" in a second phase from various sound effects (Protools, Melodine and Auto-T).tag"), Sullivan Fortner, playing all the studio's resources with a mixture of malicious virtuosity and childish naivety, reconnects with the part of the game that causes any artistic vocation. With this exuberant and totally free work, the pianist and composer reminds us that testing its limits, launching challenges, experimenting, improvising, daring without self-censorship, will always be the main virtues of any creator worthy of the name and reveals the least polished part of his proteiform musical universe.
Sullivan Fortner is the winner of the 2015 American Pianists Awards.

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