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Brian Katz | Leaves Will Speak

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Keith Jarrett Ralph Towner Various ECM Artists

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CANADA - Ontario

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Jazz: Chamber Jazz World: World Traditions Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Leaves Will Speak

by Brian Katz

An intimate yet "orchestral" nylon-string solo guitar journey featuring his trademark evocative compositions and perky free improvisations informed by the worlds of jazz, classical and various world music streams; a sonic delight with sustained surprise.
Genre: Jazz: Chamber Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. You Too
6:38 album only
2. Yellow Streams
3:02 album only
3. Essentia
4:39 album only
4. Danza
1:55 album only
5. In the Woods Kids
5:38 album only
6. Fun At Fluff's End
7:32 album only
7. Leaves Will Speak
4:05 album only
8. Circling
3:34 album only
9. Jazzy Dog
3:05 album only
10. Mezzonia
4:20 album only
11. Na-Roh-Pah
4:00 album only
12. Air Nature
5:12 album only
13. Short Trip: To the Point
1:37 album only
14. The Then New Music
4:47 album only
15. October Lilt
2:38 album only
16. When Mina Smiles
1:11 album only
17. TropiCanada
2:52 album only
18. In the Olive Grove
2:25 album only


Album Notes
From the Liner Notes to "Leaves Will Speak". A few examples of the track by track liner notes follow my opening remarks.

It had been my intention for some years to do a solo guitar recording, yet precisely how this recording would be shaped remained in question until the recording process actually began. I knew that, while I maintain a strong interest in performing jazz standards, klezmer, Latin American and classical/new music, this recording would focus on my original compositions, those rooted mainly in modern jazz yet embracing the aforementioned traditions. What I didn’t realize until the first day of the sessions was the degree to which the huge world of free (or open) improvisation, central to my work for many years, would influence the present recording. More than work with any pre-existent music or themes on those initial recording days, I was deeply, and spontaneously drawn to creating anew in front of the microphone.

Thus six of the tracks, all titled after-the-fact, were created from an emergent idea, be it in the form of a melodic motive, harmonic sequence, play of varying timbre, or as in one case, an investigation of a microtonal tuning spurred on by having chosen, for once, not to wrestle with a new set of “unsettled-in-pitch” classical guitar strings!

My love of composing, where I attempt to bring my various influences into a coherent whole, and improvisation, where I aim for the same via a much more spontaneous process, lie at the heart of this recording. It is the play between these two complimentary worlds of composition and improvisation that fuels me: improvising within and around fixed forms, and being very compositional within improvised sections of a fixed work or within free improvisation.

That I choose to be compositionally focussed in the six free improvisation tracks leads me to ask myself the following: If my leanings, as a free improviser, are far more compositional than stream of consciousness, then why not simply notate, and perform my inscribed intentions? Alas, it is that in-the-moment creation, that discovery of one new sound leading to another, and another, that offers the performer and you, the listener, a unique quality of excitement.

I have yet to speak to my vehicle of expression, my primary instrument, the nylon string guitar, generally referred to as the classical guitar. It’s uncommon place in the world of jazz and improvised music certainly deserves a mention. The classical guitar has been central to my musical journey since the late 1970’s. When I first embarked on this voyage I soon realized that there existed then, as now, only a minor tradition of modern (non-Brazilian) jazz and free improvisation played on the classical guitar. Ralph Towner (with whom I studied in 1980) was my principal role model. Under Towner’s guidance, I soon began to see that from the standpoint of articulation, phrasing, volume, dynamics, sustain and virtually all other elements save tuning, I was embarking on a journey of discovery with a musical instrument almost completely different from the electric guitar. This blossoming of a greater love and the demands of classical technique conspired, and I let go of playing the electric guitar in 1980. Today, having played the classical guitar for thirty-two years, and the piano even longer, I must acknowledge that, despite my enduring passion for the piano, it’s repertoire and exponents, the classical-nylon string guitar is my soul mate of instruments.

Playing solo on any instrument is an exciting challenge and the guitar offers, as Beethoven put it, “an orchestra in your lap,” a vast array of sounds and colours. I like to employ contrasting registers and timbres for orchestral effect, creating the kind of “conversations” one is accustomed to experiencing between instruments.

Solo playing also offers unique challenges and opportunities with regards to rhythm: while a solo performer is released from following or intentionally juxtaposing the common rhythmic thread, s/he must discover, alone, ways to sustain interest and momentum. The forward moving rhythms of the jazz, swing, tradition are present on this recording, as are “even-eighth” rhythms, and sometimes the two are juxtaposed within a work. I frequently use changing metres, and purposely, while in a metre, drop/add beats to create interest. I often imply the time rather than lay it down specifically, emphasizing the plasticity inherent in rhythm (from the Greek, rythmos, meaning flow), over more metronomically based timing. This “bending” of the time is something that I am very fond of, and my work as a practitioner of Dalcroze Eurhythmics – a hands-on, movement & music approach to education that emphasizes how the elastic flow of musical rhythm is rooted in bodily movement—has without doubt greatly informed my approach to performing.

The classical guitar is not a big sounding instrument in the way a piano (or trumpet!) can be, and my wish is to invite you, the listener, into my intimate, orchestral, world; if I can draw you into my quietest moments, I can hopefully make the guitar appear to be very grand too. You may experience music of a wide dynamic and emotional range, and my desire is that my music will inspire you on your journeys, musical and otherwise.

Brian Katz, Paris, August 2012

Examples of Track Notes:

Track 1 You Too 6:38
Brian Katz (Lilah Music/SOCAN)
You Too weaves aspects of folk-style finger-picking into a rich, multi-influenced, harmonic fabric. The sentiment is simple: one says to another, “Take care,” and the other responds, “You too.”

2. Yellow Streams (Improvisation) 3:02 Brian Katz (Lilah Music/SOCAN)
This improvisation is based on a single melodic motif, spun out and interwoven with lush harmonies.

4. Danza 1:55
Anon. arr. Brian Katz (Lilah Music/SOCAN)
To this anonymous lute work from the Italian Renaissance, I’ve added melodic variations, as was often done then, and also new rhythmic twists and inklings of modern harmony. I have discovered that Danza plays very well as a prelude to In the Woods Kids, the following track, though the two works are centuries and stylistically far apart.
Source for my arrangement: Bridges. Guitar Repertoire and Studies 5.The Frederick Harris Music Co., Limited, 2011.

5. In the Woods Kids 5:38 Brian Katz (Lilah Music/SOCAN)
There is a lovely, small group of islands, one of them Ward’s, just a short ferry ride from the foot of Toronto, on Lake Ontario. A tiny community exists on Ward’s, and I was fortunate to rent a cottage there one summer. Watching children at play in the island’s wind-twisted woods was sheer delight!

10. Mezzonia 4:20
Brian Katz (Lilah Music/SOCAN)
I hope you enjoy your visit to Mezzonia— where Bulgarian, East Indian, Greek, Middle-Eastern, Klezmer, and Jazz & Blues musicians are having one hell of a jam party!

11. Na-Roh-Pah 4:00
Brian Katz (Lilah Music/SOCAN)
A meditative work inspired by my first visit, in 1984, to the Naropa Institute— a Buddhist-based liberal arts college in Boulder, Colorado, where I taught for several summers. The Naropa Institute focuses on a balancing of intuitive and intellectual modes in education. Melodically and harmonically this work carries an Eastern flavour, further complemented by the piece’s shifting metres, that suggest the asymmetrical phrasing common to much Middle Eastern and East Indian music.

12. Air Nature (Improvisation) 5:12 Brian Katz (Lilah Music/SOCAN)
My dear friend Claudia Benz, when flying, is inspired by “the air nature,” as she calls it. Her delight in this unfolding, awesome beauty has led me to a greater appreciation of “the air nature,” and of the wonder
of moment-to-moment discovery. In this improvisation, I decided not to resist the fact that new guitar strings do not stay in tune until played for quite some time, and went with the manifest microtonal tuning, enjoying the ride of new discoveries.

17. TropiCanada 2:52
Brian Katz (Lilah Music/SOCAN)
Every year droves of winter-worn Canadians flock to the Caribbean Islands for sun, sea, fun and adventure!



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