Another INTERface: Live at the BIM

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Recorded in 1996 in Amsterdam, this curious and mysterious solo and trio recording was apparently a one-off. Led by pianist John Fischer (who is a dead ringer for Albert Einstein), this set was recorded at the 20th anniversary of the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, where Fischer got his jazz start, and it features some of the pianist's best-known compositions and reinventions of others. The set opens with "What If?," a pointillistic piece that is both knotty and modal in its execution, and Arthur Blythe plays gorgeously in the intervallic shifts (Fischer has a compositional system called the Quad System where all interval relationships are broken down to four notes) by moving through with a series of thirds and ninths that blur the edges of the piano's angles. Next up is a near classical piece by Fischer performed solo, and deeply influenced by Ravel. The trio reengages with a radical reworking of Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning" that is not unpleasant so much as it's far too afield to still be called Monk's. Why? Because it has no funk; it's an egghead version. Fischer also brings back "Mm Blues," with his four-note system that completely restructures an eight-bar blues and turns it into something Keith Jarrett might play. There are also readings of Fats Waller here that are faithful and lovely, as well as devastatingly original harmonic architectures in "Tolls Fantasy" and "Deep Blue Lake." The encores to these sets are surprising, though, in that they are very faithful readings of Ellington and Gershwin, a surprise for fans of Fischer's more outside work. They fit here, though, as this concert blends all of Fischer's influences, angles, inventions, and conceptions together into a startling whole, one that is original, vital, and demonstrably warm.

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