Reviews that mention Peter Madsen

August 1, 2018

Peter Madsen’s Seven Sins Ensemble

Never Bet the Devil Your Head
Playscape PSR #042317

Having already saluted in a unique manner American icons such as Thelonious Monk and Elvis Presley [!], Wisconsin-born pianist Peter Madsen turns his attention to an influential literary figure who died even younger than Presley: Edgar Allan Poe. The author was as original in his conceptions as Monk was in his; and responsible for initiating as many Yank variants of writing like romantic poetry, Gothic novels and the detective story, as Presley did in popular music. Naming each of the session’s 10 tracks for a particular Poe work, Madsen, who lives in both New York and Vorarlberg, Austria, creates compositions and arrangements that adapt elements of improvised and notated music to particular ends. To attain equity between melody and rhythm, a basic jazz rhythm section of bassist Herwig Hammerl and drummer Martin Grabher, interacts with a string quartet of violinists Aleksandra Lartseva and Monica Tarcsay, violist Simon Frick and cellist Bianca Riesner. Besides Madsen, the main soloist is trumpeter Herbert Walser, equally at home playing Jazz and so-called classical music. MORE

June 16, 2015

Peter Madsen’s Cia Trio

Elvis Never Left the Building
Playscape Recordings PSR # 012614

Besides the music, which as benefits the veteran American-born, Hoechst, Austria- based pianist Peter Madsen is never less than dramatic and swinging, questions about appropriation of voice and Jazz interpretations come up when dealing with Elvis Never Left the Building. Superstar Elvis Presley was a childhood hero of Madsen, who has long had the idea of deconstructing and transforming Presley’s work into the Jazz idiom. With the help of bassist Herwig Hammerl and percussionist Alfred Vogel, fellow members of the CIA or Collective of Improvising Artists, he’s done just that with 10 of the singer’s biggest hits here. But a curious disengagement still remains. MORE

May 12, 2006

Mario Pavone Sextet

Deez To Blues
Playscape PSR#J050505

Super-sizing his usual combo to a six-pack, veteran bassist Mario Pavone celebrates his 40th year in music with this hard-swinging CD of original compositions, mostly arranged by sideman, trumpeter Steven Bernstein of Sex Mob fame.

New to the Pavone orbit are Howard Johnson, a triple threat on tuba, baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, who provides a welcome low-pitched anchor, and violinist Charles Burnham, known for his work with the Odyssey trio, adding string quivers that range from classic Swing lines to near Old Timey country hoedowns. Returning are subtle drummer Michael Sarin and pianist Peter Madsen, whose flashing runs wring nuances from the music without hogging the spotlight. MORE

April 21, 2006

Peter Madsen

Prevue of Tomorrow
Playscape Recordings PSR#061705

Rejecting the simplistic sequence of modern jazz piano history, Peter Madsen’s 50th birthday present to himself is a 10-track solo disc that confirms his mastery of the idiom while expanding the pantheon of keyboard luminaries.

A perceptive interpreter, Wisconsin-born Madsen ignores the easy route of honoring the perpetual – and perpetuated – contemporary piano icons: Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Bud Powell, even Thelonious Monk. Instead, the pianist, who currently splits his time between New York and Höchst, Austria and who has played with musicians as different as tenor saxophonist Stan Getz and bassist Mario Pavone, pays tribute to an unexpected cast of characters. MORE

October 15, 2005

Michael Musillami Trio

PSR #020505

Confounding expectations, guitarist Michael Musillami adds a couple of twists to this otherwise exceptional classic guitar trio album. There’s the off-putting title and the fact that his basic combo – bassist Joe Fonda and percussionist George Schuller – is joined by pianist Peter Madsen on two tracks, tenor saxophonist Tom Christensen on one, plus those two and trumpeter Dave Ballou on “Dachau”.

Blighted by its association with the nearby Nazi concentration camp, Dachau is the German city where ironically Musillami felt the trio members’ musical ideas really fused. You can hear that in three of the selections, as the guitarist’s unique chording structure brushes up against Schuller’s unforced time-keeping and Fonda throbbing bass line. Longtime Musillami associate Madsen makes his presence felt on numbers like “Part Pitbull” and “Today the Angels” where his cascading chords and modal voicing push the others into tempo switching face-offs, including staccato guitar licks and exposure of the drummer’s bell and shaker add-ons. MORE

January 19, 2004


Playscape PSR#J061803

A Bright Nowhere
Matchless MRCD 55

Turning on its head the old NRA slogan of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and actually that way making a modicum of sense out of its twisted message, these bands show that instruments don’t make the music, people do.

For both these quintets consist of improvisers playing the exact same instruments and ones which make up the prototypical hard bop quintet. Yet the advanced music played by Mario Pavone’s quintet -- and trio -- is anything but typical boppish fare. Meantime the Conditions twist the sounds arising from trumpet, tenor saxophone, piano, bass and drums into original fare that owes more to extended free improvisation than freebop. MORE

October 13, 2003


Sphere Essence: Another Side of Monk
Playscape PSR #J010303

Plays the Music of Lee Konitz
Geestgronden GG 021

Playing the music of a well-known jazz composer can be a double bind. Play it too cleanly and people think you’re just a copycat, play it too unconventionally and others think you can’t make the changes.

These are the challenges facing the musicians on these tribute discs, but happily the five have managed to overcome most of these pitfalls. While remaining true to the spirit of Lee Konitz’s -- and by extension Lennie Tristano’s -- ideas in one case and Thelonious Monk’s difficult pianisms in the other, they’ve individually come up with CDs that reflects themselves as much as the honorees. MORE

July 13, 2002


Playscape PSR#J111401

Veteran bassist Mario Pavone better watch out. His writing and playing could breathe new life to the standard jazz piano trio format, which in other hands is mired in predictability. Of course, as this eye-opening CD, split between trio and quintet tracks shows, he may also be able to do the same for the traditional two-horns-and-rhythm jazz quintet.

What does Pavone have that others lack? Well, for a start, it’s experience. At 62, he’s been involved in modern genres that encompassed screaming energy music, calm modern composition and creative freebop, finally settling on his mixture of sound and silence. Influenced by the approach of intellectual playing partners like multi-reedist Anthony Braxton and pianist Paul Bley, Pavone was heavily involved in the group sound created in the 1970s and 1980s by his contemporaries such as drummer Gerry Hemingway, brassman Wadada Leo Smith and multi-woodwind player Thomas Chapin. MORE

June 22, 2002


Part Pitbull
Playscape PSR#J122001

Put aside any preconceptions you have about the guitar-piano duo before you listen to this CD, especially if your reference point is Jim Hall and Bill Evans’ dreamy UNDERCURRENT session.

While guitarist Michael Musillami and pianist Peter Madsen have impeccable contemporary credentials and play their share of slower tempo pieces among the 11 here, they’re aiming for something deeper with this recital. Essentially they’re out to prove that in the right -- and left -- hands, using all original, improvised tunes, the two instruments can sustain moods in many tempos. Cognizant of a potential limited palate, the longest pieces here wisely clock in at 6½ minutes so they don’t wear out their welcomes. MORE