Last year Maciej Karlowski invited me to participate in the Ad Libitum Festival and perform four different concerts to celebrate my 60th birthday. From among the many projects I have been a part of, he chose three: The Aurora trio, which had been performing regularly for over ten years and has released four CDs; the piano solo El Laberint de la Memòria; and the Thunder trio, which was a world première. The fourth concert was an invitation to play and conduct a group of Polish musicians who had teamed up just for the occasion.
I have to admit that Maciej’s choice surprised me as it could not have been a more motley selection, offering a range of rather disparate proposals and representing a wide range of musical projects in which I am currently immersed. But then again it represents four facets of myself that I think can give a very clear idea of what I have been doing of late.
The Aurora trio with its classical grouping of piano, bass and drums, mixes with great care and grace both composition and improvisation. This trio would not exist without the complicity, friendship and team chemistry of Barry Guy and Ramón López who always play the right notes at just the right moment.
THUNDER, initially a bold venture for a trio, was an old dream and wish that Frances-Marie Uitti, Joel Ryan and I all shared to explore pure electroacoustic improvisation. Whenever all three of us would run into each other here and there we would talk about our wish to play together and in Warsaw such an opportunity arose and we made our debut as a trio.
El Laberint de la Memòria [The Labyrinth of Memory] is a piano solo inspired by Spanish folk music, both real and imagined. Perhaps it is my personal recollection of the classical Spanish piano from my student days on the island of Mallorca.
And what we did with the Ad Libitum Ensemble consisted in a „conduction” in the style of Lawrence D. Butch Morris. This was a great opportunity to work with Polish musicians who I hadn’t known before; musicians who I chanced upon and discovered in rehearsals. Despite all of us coming from different places and different backgrounds, we saw how much we shared and had in common from our very first encounter, and this allowed us to perform and carry out some very interesting and profound work together, work of the highest quality, if I may add, which I hope we will be able to repeat again in the future.
I should like to think that underneath this motley selection of four musical projects, which represent four different facets of myself, there lies a unifying thread, a common link, a trace, a feeling, a philosophy, a way of thinking about music that connects seemingly inharmonious registers. I could talk about the listening, about respect, about passion, about intensity, about virtuosity, about our openness to the unknown, about our commitment to music, and about so many other things that I hear in the music recorded in these CDs. But I leave it to the listener to describe and label better than I could what they are listening to.
Bringing together in one single project such varied and disparate music can only be done at a time in one’s life as significant as this: when I am turning 60. This retrospective, as a summary or inventory of my work, makes sense now, not before nor after. Who knows if from this moment on a new musical moment is not set in motion that will take me to places still unknown to me.
I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has participated in making this project possible. First and foremost, my infinite thanks to Maciej Karlowski, without whose vision, drive and enthusiasm, this music would not exist. I am equally thankful to Krzysztof Knittel, the artistic director of the Ad Libitum Festival, for all his support.
I would also like to thank all the musicians who played with me for their generosity and for having come along with me on this trip, and giving me the opportunity to learn from them at every stop on the way. I want to thank the audience who attended the festival concerts in Warsaw because without them the music would not have been the same nor would it have had a reason for to exist?. Poland, for reasons that never cease to amaze me, has always welcomed me and my music with extraordinary warmth and I will eternally be grateful to Poland and the Polish people for this. I also want to thank all the technical staff, both in Warsaw and in Spain, for their support and unconditional help.