“Composition is frozen improvisation” – said one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, Igor Stravinsky. But in the hands of master musicians improvisation can be instant composition as well.
When – as in this album – two musicians – Danish saxophone player Benjamin Koppel and Swedish bass player Thommy Andersson – are both equally skilled as composers/arrangers. Both Koppel and Andersson have composed and arranged several works for all kinds of ensembles including symphony orchestra, sinfonietta, big band, string- and wind-ensembles, a.m., as well as performers on the highest level and furthermore have a musical relationship that has lasted for more than a decade and has produced seven CDs together before this one, the most natural and obvious setting for music interplay is set.
The knowledge of one-another’s spontaneous and instinctive musical choices leads the two musicians into a landscape, where music is composed, shaped and invented in the very instant of its presence. Which is exactly what is happening on this album, which was recorded on a snowy Copenhagen evening in December after another recording session had been completed. The other musicians left the studio and Koppel and Andersson, who had talked about making a duo album for years (having played a number of duo concerts throughout the years), stayed and set a very easy dogma for this recording: there where absolutely no talk about what to play before they asked the engineer to start recording.
No songs, themes or melodies that already existed was allowed, only totally fresh, new improvised music was to be played. And the result, well-contemplated, planned and composed as it may seem, is an utterly amazing 40 minutes of undisturbed beautiful music, fully improvised from the beginning to the end, an honest and present depiction of a musical friendship on a level rarely heard.
Composition is indeed frozen improvisation, as the first idea of a composition needles to say must origin in some kind of improvised playfulness or lust to explore the unknown. But improvisation can definitely be the spontaneous shaping of a through-composed work of art, as in the case of these two magnificent musicians. Another magnificent musician that Koppel has released a duo album with is the American pianist Kenny Werner, Koppel’s regular collaborator. On their release WALDEN (August 2009) inspired by the masterpiece of American literature, “Walden, or Life in The Woods” – published in 1854, and written by the social reformer, philosopher, and naturalist, Henry David Thoreau – Koppel and Werner’s nine music pieces merge into a melodic and lyrical song cycle of jazz interpretation.
As at the new Koppel and Andersson album THE SUDDENNESS OF INVENTIVITY, the suddenness by which true and valid improvisation emerges is driven by the overwhelming inventivity to burst out to become a complete and lasting artistic performance that completely wipes out the border between composition and improvisation. That is what the suddenness of inventivity is all about.
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