Griot

CD Cover Griot

Gernot Blume and Peter Epstein play jazz compositions and free improvisations on piano and saxophone. Individualistic, multicultural, multistylistic. Epstein fascinates with free, virtuosic, warm, and flexible saxophone sounds. Blume’s intense, expressive piano style combines with Epstein’s sound ideal to shape a suspenseful dialogue. Profound, mature jazz.

Griot is the term for a musician born into a family of storytellers in West-Africa. The griot recounts history through song and poetry. As a living library, a conscience of the past and guide to the future, the griot preserves the treasures of his people’s shared experiences.

In this recording, jazz, free improvisation, Western contemporary composition, and the traditional music of West-Africa, India, and Indonesia, are fluid points of reference, which reflect the story of a new kind of griot - a traveler between different worlds.

Gernot Blume and Peter Epstein have worked together since their time spent together at the California Institute of the Arts (1988-1992). Out of this collaboration developed the CD Griot, a live concert recording from September 16th, 1999, that captures the enchanting acoustics of the Agnes Flanagan Chapel on the campus of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, USA. Individually developed multicultural and multistylistic influences are part of the aesthetic foundation of the duo. Epstein captivates with his warm and flexible saxophone sound, as well the virtuosic fluidity of his improvisations. Gernot Blume’s intense and expressive style of piano playing combines with Epstein’s sound ideal to form a thrilling dialog.

Peter Epstein began his career in 1984 in Portland, Oregon. After several years apprenticing with many of the region’s top jazz artists, he relocated to Los Angeles, California to study jazz and various world music genres at California Institute of the Arts. After receiving his BFA from CalArts in 1992, he moved to Brooklyn, New York where he appeared on over 30 recordings and toured in 20 countries with artists including Peter Erskine, Scott Colley, Ralph Alessi, Michael Cain, Brad Shepik, Bobby Previte, and many others. As a leader Peter has recorded four albums of his own, all for the Japanese label, MA Recordings. He is a founding member of the School for Improvisational Music in New York City and teaches each summer at the International Meeting of Saxophonists in Nova Goriça, Slovenia. Currently, Mr. Epstein is Assistant Professor of Jazz Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.

All compositions are by Gernot Blume.

Gernot Blume's thoughts on this:

Impersonal Realities
is a homage to Keith Jarrett’s so-called European Quartet of the 1970s. This ensemble with saxophonist Jan Garbarek was an important influence for me.
Rain Falls From a Weary Sky
well I spent five years in Portland, a rainy area in the Pacific Northwest of the US. But musically this piece contains a lot of Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, the two jazz pianists that had influenced me even before my 15 years in America.
Griot
translates the fluid sound structures of the West African Kora-harp onto the piano, and the Islamic vocal style of the griots onto the saxophone. Many thanks to the inspiration of Baba Mal, Foday Muso Sosa, Youssou N’Dour and Malamini Jobarteh.
Archeology
my personal adaptation of the great John Coltrane’s compositional style, for example in his pieces Giant Steps or Moment’s Notice, however, not without some factor of alienation.
Inscription
Ornette Coleman spoke at the occasion of my graduation from CalArts, where he was given an honorary doctorate. The man and his music led to this composition.
Exile
an angular and moody Blues.
Things Are Not What They Appear to be
well, things really are not what they appear to be. From churning sound pictures rise, as shadowy ghosts, allusions to the American, German, and French national anthems. Mussorgsky’s chicks from pictures at an exhibition dance along in their egg shells, and on top of that Thelonious Monk with Straight No Chaser got lost in here: the whole dilemma of my postmodern, fractured, multicultural identity ... not without irony.
Amiya
is dedicated to Amiya Dasgupta, my long-time friend and guru of Indian Raga music, who passed away in 1994, shortly before a planned concert tour through Germany with me. This composition follows certain structures of a classical North-Indian Raga, translated into a decidedly non-Indian instrumentation. My concept of harmodal improvisation - chord structures that result from combinations of notes stemming from the respective Raga-scales - form the basis for the harmonic language of this Indo-Jazz-fusion.
Precipice
is a kind of musical cubism: broken, yet hocketing sound structures with edges and corners conclude the energy curve of the CD.

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