Keith Tippett

Mujician III (August Air)

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The last -- and perhaps most brilliant -- part in a trilogy of solo works by British pianist and composer Keith Tippett, Mujician III is a bit of a departure from its predecessors. It is comprised of only two tracks, one a "love improvisation" to his wife, vocalist Julie Tippett ("I Love You Julie"), and the other an extended meditation on late summer ("August Air"). Sonority is the issue here and the thing Tippett is after: how the sounds coming from the piano interact and multiply, and how best to get them to do just that. And while it sounds academic in theory, in practice it is anything but. Tippett is a masterful improviser. The methods he employs to get where he needs to go are more about process than the object of expression. Whether employing extrapolated George Shearing and Lennie Tristano voicings over thematics by Sviatoslav Richter, or swinging modal elements of Bill Evans' later compositions adorned with the emotive brilliance of Milhaud, Tippett intimately knows the places his music comes from. The wonder is that he moves so fearlessly through them, sonically challenging himself, the structures of the interval process, and melodic and harmonic conventions. His end result is simply passion, in the new sonorities he finds during the course of employing others and in the previously unknown aural fields of language his hands write over the middle and lower registers of his keyboard. Indeed, if Mujician III is not evidence of great improvisation, then it must be a tremendous example of mental composition by breath, where dynamics, musicality, and complexity are given new meanings in the act of writing by will. In essence, a work of genius any way you carve it.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 22:39
2 47:09
blue highlight denotes track pick