Category Archives: Bands/Artists I rate very highly

Bands/Artists I rate very highly

Album review: Anders Ammitzbøll – Hymns for Hearts (2015)

AndersAmmitzbollWhat is the Aarhus sound and why do I love it? The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark has turned out some very good musicians such as Alex Jønsson Christensen (The Lost Moose), Jens Mikkel (Lift Me Up So I Can Reach) and Jakob Sørensen (Bagland). All of these musicians have produced works of outstanding musicianship, atmospheric and recognisably Nordic.  Hmm… there seems to be a pattern here… and here’s another one – double bass player Anders Ammitzbøll with his debut album (financed by Kickstarter) Hymns For Hearts, as exuberant and fresh an album as those which went before from fellow alumni.

The combination of two guitars makes for a bubbly texture, the two instruments weaving in and out of each other. There is an African highlife lilt to the sound of the two guitars which is very attractive. Anders told me he chose two guitars in order that one could create soundscapes while the other plays a more “traditional” role and it certainly works in this live recording.

The album could be considered as a symphonic shimmering whole, the lovely tunes gently unfold until the uneasy, freer Paranoia. There is the some delicate songlike solo work – sometimes just guitar, sometimes double bass – and plenty of space for the drums. The sound is beautiful, made for vinyl.

This is an impressive, accomplished and confident debut album and we can expect to hear more from this bassist and I hope from this band.

Anders Ammitzbøll  Hymns for Heart

  • Anders Ammitzbøll, double bass
  • Stian Swensson, guitar
  • Viktor Sandström, guitar
  • Rasmus Iversen, drums
Mary James, 12 April 2016

Win two tickets to see Christian McBride at Komedia, Brighton 23 March

Christian-Edgar-Duo (1) 2 (1)Would you like to see the great bassists Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer  in Brighton on 23 March 2016? Just put the correct answer in the form below and your name will be entered in a draw to win two free tickets to the concert at Komedia, Brighton on 23 March 2016.

How many Grammys has Christian McBride been awarded?

  1. One?
  2. Two?
  3. Four?

Good luck!

The competition has now closed and the lucky winners have been notified. Thanks for your interest.

 

Album of 2015: Maciek Pysz – A Journey

Maciek Pysz - A Journey
Maciek Pysz – A Journey
This album is pure, clean, austere. Not austere in the sense of frugal or bleak – no, not at all. Austere in the sense of simplicity, modesty and honesty, the powerful starkness you experience in the unadorned interior of an abbey such as Pontigny.  I have lived with and loved this album for twelve months, from the very first listening.  A Journey by Maciek Pysz is my album of 2015 because of its beauty, its emotional depth and variety, and the dazzling compositional and performance talents of Maciek Pysz on guitar.

A Journey is guitarist and composer Maciek Pysz’s second album, recorded and engineered once more by Stefano Amerio at Artesuono Studio with the same musicians as his first album Insight – Yuri Goloubev on bass and Asaf Sirkis on drums – but with the inspired choice of Daniele di Bonaventura on piano and bandoneon. The mutual inspiration between Pysz and Bonaventura on bandoneon is nowhere clearer than on the haunting Innocente by Ralph Towner with its delicate impressionist water colour introduction. This has a touch of genius about it, inspired by the moment.

You can appreciate this album for the beauty of the sound: clear, pristine and sparkling yet warm – everything you would want to hear in an acoustic guitar if you can’t actually be in the room with it  – this album is made for vinyl. But you soon forget the technicalities as you are swept away in the emotions of each composition. Take Water Streets inspired by a trip to Venice, the gentle rocking of a gondola, the ripple of sunlight on ancient facades, masks and carnival – you experience all of these things unforgettably in just a few bars.  The clarity is not just clarity of sound, but clarity and honesty of emotion, and that is why I love this album so much.  There is no escaping the wistfulness of  Until Next Time, the opening bandoneon so full of longing, the warmth and peace of Coming Home, the affection in Paris, the joyous momentum of Always On The Move.  

Insight was my album of 2013, reviewed here.  There is no denying the technical, stylistic and emotional growth in this second album, the easy flow of melody disguising music that is challenging to perform. It is unnecessary to list influences since Maciek has his own sound and colour pallet, as subtle, gorgeous and extensive as any painter’s, every note delivered with passion and breathtaking skill.  It was quite evidently a magical few days in the studio with inspiration from all involved. And the order of tracks is very satisfying, from opening  Fresh Look to closing Coming Home.  A perfectly executed work of art in every sense.  And what next?  Well, I for one can’t wait for the next stage in this particular journey….but in the meantime, I will always enjoy A Journey.

Mary James works with Maciek Pysz as his manager

marycjamesmanagement 

‘A Journey ‘ is released on Dot Time Records

www.maciekpysz.com

 

Article: 10 things I learned as a tour manager

© 2015  Robbie Elford. All Rights Reserved.
© 2015 Robbie Elford. All Rights Reserved.

Recently, guitarist and composer Maciek Pysz completed an 18-date tour of England and Wales. I arranged most of this tour and helped out with PR and tour management. Here are 10 things I learned, they were published in London Jazz News on 7 December 2015.

http://www.londonjazznews.com/2015/12/feature-ten-things-i-learned-as-tour.html

 

Maciek Pysz Album Launch at The Forge 18 November 2015

Maciek Pysz at The Forge, 18 November 2015
Maciek Pysz at The Forge, 18 November 2015

It came to me quite suddenly – those half remembered words of John Keats “full-throated ease” and after the concert I hurried back to Ode to a Nightingale to rediscover what had prompted this image in my mind. For truly many of the sounds we heard from the guitars of Maciek Pysz last night at the launch of his second album A Journey at The Forge in Camden were full throated like a nightingale, gorgeous, rising above the other instruments effortlessly, hanging in the air, trailing off so gently and gracefully. The evening was one for the senses and for our imaginations. For Maciek’s dazzlingly memorable tunes and rhythms prompt you to see with his eyes, hear with his ears – whether it is a sophisticated Venice in Water Streets, a Paris basement jazz club or memories of his childhood.

And Keats’ warm South was there too in the shape of Italian ECM artist Daniele di Bonaventura on nostaglic bandoneon and rippling piano. The delicate abstract conversations between bandoneon and guitar in Ralph Towner’s Innocente and Pysz’s Desert highlights of the evening.  This was an evening to savour the sight as well as the sound of music-making – sometimes Daniele looked to the ceiling, gently rocking in his chair, the sound of buttons lightly touched like tiny gasps. Maciek’s guitar sits so easily in his lap, a natural extension of his arms and fingers, his fingers a blur – can he really be the only person making all those beautiful sounds? And Yuri Goloubev‘s wry lop-sided smile as he cascades up and down his strings faster and faster, Asaf Sirkis‘ closed eyes as he plays, his hands pitter-pattering on the udu. And surely this is why we come out to concerts – to see as well as hear?  Recent tragic events were not forgotten as Maciek dedicated his spirited, stylish Paris to the people of the city he loves very much.

We would have loved an encore but our time was up. We walked off into the night aware we had had a rare experience, a bit like hearing a nightingale.

Maciek Pysz’s tour continues until 28 November 2015

http://www.maciekpysz.com/

A Journey is released on Dot Time Records

Mary James 19 November 2015