Yuja Wang and Jun Asai are two surreal talents. Already phenomenally accomplished at their youthful ages, these two have the world at their feet. We have much to marvel at now, and much more to look forward to.
The great South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, a keyboard giant, is here featured. Though his work reflects the gospel and traditional works of his ancestral home, as well as that of jazz legends Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington, he is much more than their sum. Ibrahim is a master of improvisational high-wire acts that leave the listener spellbound. His is a unique, powerful, mesmeric musical vision.
Unquestionably one of the titanic figures of 20th century music, Thelonious Monk composed and performed mountains of material that now has classic status, but during his initial heyday in the 40’s, it was often dismissed as too quirky, too dissonant, too…weird. Well, Monk’s work is indeed all of those things, but in just the right amount. There is an uncanny air of ineffable mystery that permeates his playing that is striking. His style is angular, uses silence beautifully, and is deeply personal and idiosyncratic. Although hugely influential, no one has ever sounded remotely like him.
The great McCoy Tyner, a phenomenal, electrifying pianist, first came to prominence as the keyboardist for John Coltrane’s quartet, in 1960. He went on to bedazzle countless listeners as a bandleader himself. Born December 11, 1938, Tyner died today, March 6, 2020. He will be mourned by millions.