Michael Wollny, best known as being one third of the thrillingly inventive young contemporary piano trio [em], is a musician who knows no boundaries in his search for new jazz ‘standards’. “Not a jazz standard in the traditional sense,” he points out but, “it also simply describes a song as a starting point that enables the musicians to grow a tune on top of it, a great melody and a few chords. In that respect I consider all of these tunes ‘standards’.”
Wollny‘s new trio recording Weltentraum is a stunning example of contemporary interpretation in the hands of a unique, fluidly virtuoso artist. Wollny, with both elegance and wit, explores the connection between songs that are worlds apart in terms of both centuries and cultures on Weltentraum. But in the pianist’s hands, the combination of interpretations of ‘God is a DJ’ by the riot girl power pop star Pink and the piece ‘Lasse!’ by Guiliaume de Machaut (the French Medieval composer and poet) gets to feel entirely natural. With the resourcefulness of a world class contemporary jazz improviser, Wollny finds common value in the songs’ starkly haunting melodies in spite of arriving from hugely diverse sources.
Says Wollny, “The basic idea for the whole album was to collect ‘songs’. At the very beginning Siggi Loch and I discussed the possibility of doing an album with ‘standards’ - not in the usual sense, but songs and music that I would consider "my" standards. this was the starting point. When I then started to think about the terms "standards" and "songs", I was looking for music, that really "sings" to me - melodies, that touched me, that were speaking to me. The first thing I realised was that I needed to look for music not so much in traditional jazz or contemporary pop and rock, but also in the "lied" and "kunstlied" tradition, which brought me to Alban Berg, Gustav Mahler, Paul Hindemith etc. Also at one point I really got into the idea of doing a ‘night’ album, so this is how David Lynch, Nietzsche and Charlie Kaufman suddenly were in there as well. Some of the themes that were important to me for this album: tonality and atonality; fragility and force, melodic purity, romantic totalism, endless melodies, dark abysses, angels, dream logic, light darkness, gothic beauty.” Welcome to the unique world of Michael Wolllny.
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