“For Two”, a striking duet recording of new music for piano and guitar, encapsulates conceptual considerations central to Michael Mantler’s work. Since the mid-1960s, when he co-founded the Jazz Composer’s Guild and established the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, finding forms for creatively channelling the improvisational impulse has been a priority. In the course of a distinguished series of recordings for JCOA, WATT and ECM, Mantler has often looked at ways in which notated music and improvising can inform, complement or inspire each other. On “For Two” the concise duets continue Michael Mantler’s basic concept of creating music that is in part completely notated, but also involves improvisation.
With only two instruments here, the piano represents Mantler’s essentially orchestral concept with a soloist from contemporary new music (a “classical” non-improvising pianist), combined with a second player coming from jazz, the guitarist (improvising/freely interpreting).
The album was recorded in the South of France and in Denmark, with material subsequently edited by Michael Mantler, and mixed and mastered September/October 2010 at Studios La Buissonne near Avignon.
Born in Sweden in 1952, but now based in Copenhagen, guitarist Bjarne Roupé has performed and recorded with his own bands and with a multitude of international musicians and groups: Palle Mikkelborg and Miles Davis (“Aura”), The Danish Radio Big Band, Marilyn Mazur, Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Harris, Bob Brookmeyer, Jimmy Smith, Toots Thielemans, Hermeto Pascoal, Clark Terry, Van Morrison, Georgie Fame, Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer, and many others. He continues the tradition of guitar soloists in Mantler's music as a member of his Chamber Music and Songs Ensemble and participated in the “Cerco Un Paese Innocente” and “School of Understanding” recordings and performances, followed by appearances on the “Songs and One Symphony” and “Hide and Seek” albums. His latest collaboration was as soloist on the "Guitar Concerto" during its premiere performance at the Berlin JazzFest 2007, subsequently released on Mantler's ECM recording “Concertos”.
Born in 1962 in Copenhagen Denmark, Per Salo studied piano and organ in Denmark, Italy and USA. Very active both as a soloist and as a chamber musician, his repertoire includes many contemporary works. Recently he appeared as a soloist in Olivier Messiaen's “Turangalila Symphony “ at concerts in Germany and Denmark. In 1997 Chandos released Salo's recording of Per Nørgaard's “Concerto in Due Tempi”, which he premiered with the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra when the composer was awarded the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. Salo has previously collaborated with Michael Mantler on his “Hide and Seek” CD. He has received many awards, among them the Artist Prize of the Danish Music Critics.
After a quarter century of living in the USA, Michael Mantler (born 1943 in Vienna), discontinued his work with WATT Records, the label he co-founded with Carla Bley, and returned to Europe in 1991. He now lives in Denmark and France, and releases his recordings on ECM.
His ECM discs include “Folly Seeing All This”, recorded 1992, with the Balanescu String quartet, and Jack Bruce singing the title track, a setting of Samuel Beckett’s last poem. A suite of songs for voice, big band and chamber ensemble, inspired by the poetry of Giuseppe Ungaretti comprises the album “Cerco un paese innocente”, recorded 1994. For the opera “The School of Understanding” (recorded 1996) Mantler was his own librettist, a first in a career that has often seen him working with literary texts (Becket, Pinter, Gorey, Soupualt etc). Singers on the project were Jack Bruce, Robert Wyatt, Mona Larsen, Susi Hyldgaard. A large orchestral piece, “One Symphony”, with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt conducted by Peter Rundel, was recorded in 1998.
“Hide And Seek” (recorded 2000) was a musical interpretation of Paul Auster’s play of the same name, with Robert Wyatt and Susi Hyldgaard in starring roles. The anthology “Review” (recordings 1968-200) retraced Mantler’s unique artistic path, travelling backwards in time to climax with a performance by Pharoah Sanders with the Jazz Composers Orchestra in 1968.
“Concertos”, recorded 2007/8, featured the Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin under the direction of Roland Kluttig and soloists Roswell Rudd, Nick Mason, Majella Stockhausen, Pedro Carneiro, Bob Rockwell, and Mantler himself on trumpet, in a project the composer described as “a return to as well as a re-thinking of the original concept of my work with the Jazz Composer's Orchestra, the soloists now from contemporary new music (non-improvising) as well as from new jazz and rock (improvising/ freely interpreting), supported by a classical, though musically flexible, chamber ensemble.”
In recent years Michael Mantler, has won a number of awards acknowledging his life’s work, including the Austrian State Prize for Improvised Music, the Prandtauer Prize of the City of St. Pölten (where he spent his early youth), and the Music Prize of the City of Vienna.