Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Gil Selinger: Press

Taken right from cellist Gil Selinger’s website, “notation is to improvisation as the portrait is to the living model”, according to composer Ferruccio Busoni and as practiced by Selinger and his present collaborator, pianist Evan Mazunik. All the tracks on this fascinating disc are pieces that are actually improvised in creation and which could be notated afterwards. The results are quite entertaining and make for very nice listening!

...

The music on this disc is truly interesting and covers a lot of different styles. For example, at one end of the spectrum, “The Fall of ‘29” is a very free and wild foray into sounds that feel like a sort of Webern meets Thelonius Monk and is frantic but fascinating. The opening brief “Jimbaran” is a very restful, pretty and somewhat New Age sounding work with a slight minimalist touch to it; very nice!

Three of the tracks – the improvisations – are titled “sonata”. The “Sonata #9, ‘Americana’ “ is a very buoyant and uplifting work that sounds like a bit of Copland mixed with jazz. There is a catchy syncopation within the opening bars that leads eventually to a very open, panoramic mid section, that – to me – channeled Copland and Harris a bit. The work really does sound a bit “American” and evokes a landscape throughout. The closing track, “Sonata #10” is quite a bit different in its feel but it, too, is a very effective work, with a sort of languorous opening and harmonies that drift around some cello utterances. This work feels improvised in spots but interlaced with some nice melodies piano commentary that resembles Hindemith in places. The second, “Sonata #8” also has a dark, ponderous feel to it at first that is immediately attention getting. At seventeen plus minutes, this is also the longest work in this collection and quite satisfying.

My favorite track might be the third, “Lament”. This is a lovely and plaintive offering that evokes things which are bittersweet, longing and reminiscent. Of all the pieces performed here this is the one that actually sounds through composed; all the more impressive that it must not have been.

This whole disc is quite enjoyable. Selinger and Mazunik are doing something quite unusual and it certainly seems to work. I think this disc appeals to fans of cello playing and maybe to those who want to hear music that it improvised in ways that the term “improvisation” does not ordinarily conjure up.
Gil's language is full of so much diversity, romance and good humor.
Lev "Ljova" Zhurbin - 2X grammy nominated frequent collaborator
En deuxième partie, pas de danse cette fois, uniquement de la musique. Un duo encore, cette fois avec Gil Selinger au violoncelle.

Tristan Macé - Gil Selinger

Glissement des couleurs musicales, Gil Selinger apportant celles d'une musique romantique et grave.
Mais il s'agit encore de musique improvisée, totalement. Les codes empruntent à diverses esthétiques, mais la prégnance du tango affleure souvent. Une connivence certaine entre ces deux artistes, souriante.
On s'arrête là ? Echange de regards. Oui, pourquoi pas ?
- Jazz à Paris (Sep 30, 2008)
He may not be famous but he has played with major improvisers such as Marilyn Crispell, Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray and Daniel Carter. Essentially a classical player, he interprets classical music in his own free way calling it “classical improvisation”. “Improvisation has existed as a concept since music was first played” he quotes. “Somehow this practice got lost as music became more and more complex, and composers became more and more detailed in what they wrote and instructions on how their music should be played”. Thus his previous CD “Deconstructing Haydn” was an attempt to bring improvisation back to classical repertoire. For his last album “4/4 Tet” he selected only originals written for an ensemble of four cellos. All parts were played by him, constituting an unusual string quartet. It’s obvious that Selinger’s music may not be intended for wide audiences, since it might sound strange to both classical music and jazz fans. Tracks like the intricate “Pieces for 4 Celli” with its often experimentations with dissonance, demand the listener’s patience and concentration. Each composition is not directly related to jazz, as they hardly step on jazz forms and even less they are driven by the swing feeling. The affinity with jazz arises through the way of thinking and functioning, through the freedom of expression and the wide creative range. We make sure of that listening the rubato and walking bass lines that Selinger plays just like a free jazz bass player (“Oxygenqt”, “Bugeyze”), or the sort alternation from arco to pizzicato in the middle of “Short Pieces for a Cello”. In other tracks (“Klarqt”, “Dirge and Waltz of the Flowerboy”) with themes that sound familiar, he accesses folk tradition (wedding themes, waltzes, gipsy music). Overall “4/4 Tet” gives us a good reason to discover the cello’s potentials as an improvisational tool and also how close classical music and jazz can be as a way of thinking.
Referring to his process as “Classical Improvisation,” Selinger tends to untapped fields of classical methodology and the improvisational nature of other musical realms, such as jazz. The results are decidedly classical in nature, but they fall in the vein of the modern style, rather than Classical or Romantic modes. He is no Erik Friedlander, either; rather, he is a classical musician who is trying to bridge to the music without actually performing it per se.

...he builds melodies that harmonize with one another, until the other cello tracks give way to a single repeating figure, ultimately leading back into familiar territories and improvisations based on them. This is not sappy, tired music. Rather it is heartfelt and embracing, marking one of the numerous highlights of 4/4 Tet.

Duende Trio

Mysterium

Other Reviews