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Pianist Josu de Solaun - “Roots, The ADDA Concert” - CD Review, 19th of May 2023

Tuesday, 23 May 2023 , ora 15.31

For a connoisseur of jazz idiom, a full improvised album in concert is a familiar thing, taking into account the fact that such experiences have been made by pianist Keith Jarrett since the 1970s. Rarely, however, do we expect such spontaneous approaches from a classical pianist. In this context, I name Josu de Soluan, well known to the Romanian public as a winner of the George Enescu International Competition, also through the concerts and records released. I also presented in this CD review the album "Fantasque" - French sonatas for violin and piano recorded together with Franziska Pietsch, for which he received the ICMA award in 2021 - we also remember all the piano works by George Enescu published under the Naxos label, as well as other chamber pages written by the Romanian composer.

This time we discover Josu de Solaun as an improviser, a skill that jazz musicians develop in particular. There is this extraordinary precedent offered by pianist Keith Jarrett. I'm thinking of "Solo Concerts" in Lausanne, Bremen and especially from Cologne, an album from 1975 in which the abundance of ideas and melodic flow seem endless, becoming the best-selling solo album in jazz history and the best-selling piano album - with over 4 million copies sold. Josu de Solaun dedicated the second album from the improvised series - "PandEMiCity", released in 2021. Now I present to you the third album "Roots" - The ADDA Concert - Free improvisations, published on February 23rd under the ariaclassics label, a solo recital at the 2022 Alicante Jazz Festival, considered by specialists one of the most valuable and captivating moments of the festival.

What is certain is that during 14 episodes we are led on an absolutely fascinating journey through the entire history of music, reinterpreted through the subjectiv taste of the Spanish pianist, which is like a receptacle that aspires, breathes, builds and reinterprets, in a modern and elevated manner the whole route that any classical pianist follows, assimilating a huge repertoire - as an approach to a complex career.

Beyond the traditional harmonic language, or the contemporary one, Josu de Solaun also adds elements specific to the jazz idiom, so that the painting is all-encompassing, overflowing. A component of a spiritual nature is added too. The artist's thoughts lead us to a rather rare vision shared by our contemporaries - "a new awareness of the fundamental nature of the arts; of what is sacred, divine, the belief that without an idea of sacredness pulsing through our living processes, the arts would be impossible". It is also added the "nature of feedback between sadness and joy" learned from Schubert and Schumann".

For the improvisational act, Josu de Solaun considers that "the prior desire is necessary to empty our baggage of experience ... so that instinct, intuition, manual intelligence and intuitive and ancestral rationality of those who craft fundamentally for the arts to prevail".For the pianist, the new record is a manifesto, a justification for a much broader idea of composition, an ode to the composition of the aes of ancient Greece… a statement that music and score are not the same, but they are not dichotomous, just as they are not popular or cultured".

"Roots, The ADDA Concert" with Josu de Solaun is a unique, surprising experience, giving us a picture of a language that retains cultural experiences from various eras and sound structures, but focused mainly on contemporary language, more valuable as it involves the gift of being spontaneous and improvising from the fullness all this sound gear. For most of us, unthinkable, for the ones more talented, unreservedly admired.

Marina Nedelcu
Translated by Bogdan-Nicolae Tănăsescu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu