Michael Arbenz – Classicism – A Point of View (ENG review)

Street date March 15th 2024
Michael Arbenz – Classicism – A Point of View (ENG review)

Michael Arbenz is the pianist and keyboardist you may have seen and/or heard alongside Greg Osby, Glenn Ferris, Dave Liebman, Marc Johnson, Wolfgang Puschnig, and Andy Sheppard. With a solid background in both classical and jazz, flowing through his veins like an elixir of excellence, an album that captivated me from the first notes, I must admit I was disturbed to talk about it. I love it when an album disturbs me, when it challenges me. In fact, all of this brought me back to my early adolescence and to the music conservatory where I used to go regularly to listen to a piano teacher practicing on a Bossendörfer grand piano. This classically trained teacher enjoyed interpreting jazz, so I listened to him tirelessly whenever possible. Here, Michael Arbenz brings his inner world to classical music, making it his own work. It’s normal; he takes a theme, whether it’s Debussy, Brahms, or another, it doesn’t matter; he adheres to their inspirations, twists them, and elevates them. He has studied and understood these composers so well that he can easily rewrite their stories, immerse himself in their respective eras, and bring out the essential without anyone having to cry “Betrayal!”
Yes, I am particularly fond of this kind of work that leaves nothing to chance, requiring immersion in one’s culture and turning it into a fascinating work of art. Departing from what the listener might expect from a solo piano album, Arbenz’s use of contemporary production techniques expands his sonic palette and pushes the album into a more contemporary space. Thus, each composition is built on a concrete connection to the classical world, offering the listener a glimpse of the familiar as well as the unexpected. In 2023, the pianist released “Réflexions de D”, paying homage to his idol Duke Ellington, the Swiss pianist Michael Arbenz – perhaps better known for his work with the VEIN trio.
Speaking of Duke Ellington, everything here again evokes Duke Ellington, in intentions, in the way of bringing out the notes. Arbenz is the archetype of the musician who straddles both worlds: that of Europe marked by its history and where classical music has played a prominent role, and also in the world of jazz greats. This album is probably the most beautiful synthesis of these influences. We must also salute Hannes Kumke, who from recording to mixing and mastering, has done wonders for this album that will be indispensable for any lover of beautiful music.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 7th 2024


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