Monday, August 28, 2017


The Free Poetics of Henrique Eisenmann introduces the music of Brazilian pianist Henrique Eisenmann, a groundbreaking voice in the today's jazz community. Drawing inspiration from different folk world rhythms, chants, voices, poems and animal sounds, Henrique creates a unique musical universe, modern, thought-provoking, but at the same time lyrical and playful. The idea of using the piano trio instrumentation with percussion instead of drums adds a new layer of subtlety and complexity to the sound, and at the same time suggests sounds and images from several traditional musics from around the world.

Henrique's virtuosic piano playing is completely unconventional, featuring an impressive array of creative techniques, gestures and independence; hands juxtaposing multiple different rhythms, playing different melodies simultaneously, all with an extreme freedom and mobility over time, but still committed to the groove.
The opening track Introduction - Niños Peruanos immediately throws the listener into a completely new world, by featuring a recording of 6-year-old Peruvian boy reciting a poem in Spanish, underneath which Henrique freely improvises and suddenly starts a joyful musical conversation with the kid. Words gain a complete new musical sense, and slowly a wonderful musical fabric starts to unveil, leading to a celebratory explosion over Hermeto Pascoal's Zurich.

Sarabande No. 2 offers a strong contrast, introducing a lyrical and classical melody with intricate chromatic harmonies, elegantly accompanied by Jorge Roeder, the Peruvian born Grammy-nominated bassist. The piece arrives to its climax, in which the polished Sarabande is transformed into a rhythmic outburst led by percussionist Rogério Boccato, who is able to emulate, alone, the sound and energy of fifty percussionists. Born in Brazil, Boccato has performed with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento and jazz legends such as Kenny Garrett and Joe Zawinul, operating a daring fusion of traditional percussion with improvisation and experimental sounds.

Jeneupti is perhaps the most mysterious and fascinating piece on the album, featuring a perplexing field recording of a Ghanaian girl hoarsely singing a hypnotic melody. Henrique is in the background playing a series of repetitive chords extracted from Charles Ives' song Serenity (1919), and slowly starts to seamlessly harmonize the voice revealing an entirely new hidden character in the melody hitherto unnoticed by the listener.

"I'm always searching for creative alternatives for re-composing music, to not get stuck in scales and traditional harmonies, and human speech is a great source of inspiration because of repeated notes, unexpected leaps, and sometimes sequence of notes that you would never imagine otherwise; so transcribing to voice is a great exercise to expand your musical horizons." (Eisenmann). 

According to Henrique, Afro-Latidos was inspired by mbira music from Zimbabwe, emulating the peculiar sounds of the thumb-pianos. The piece unfolds into an energetic groove, featuring a magnetizing solo by saxophonist Gustavo D'Amico, that recalls the sonority of Roscoe Mitchell's or John Coltrane's collaboration with North African musicians.

Anthropophagy is the album's ballad. The weird title - anthropophagy means cannibalism - is a reference to the Modernist movement in Brazil, which used the metaphor of foreign culture being devoured and digested by natives, becoming a new national identity. The piece is actually a recomposition of Charlie Parker's "Anthropology", played six times slower than the original tempo. The result is a completely new lyrical piece, completely unrecognizable. Perhaps the few bebop phrases at the very end may hint some of Parker's original melody to the attentive listener.

Dans un Fracas de Plumes (birds) was inspired by the poetry of Israeli poet Hadassa Tal, who has collaborated with Henrique in his 2013 solo record "Notes for Pina Bausch". The central idea is to recreate the chaotic interaction between groups of birds, in which there's no real pulse, harmony, and order, but somehow it creates a sort of meta-organization, with humor, spontaneity and abrupt musical gestures. The highly crafted unison phrases played by Eisenmann and saxophonist Gustavo D'Amico demonstrate a fantastic work on precision and rhythmic freedom.

Zumbi describes the life of Zumbi dos Palmares, an important pioneer in the resistance against slavery in Brazil. Henrique introduces by the piece by imitating the sounds of a Brazilian berimbau (one-stringed percussion instrument) on the piano, and slowly developing it into an enigmatic melody, recalling ancient African Brazilian grooves.

Epilogue - Pífanos is a short and perfect closing piece, a synthesis of the idiosyncratic musical worlds created by Henrique. While playing and whistling a simple folk melody on the piano, Henrique simultaneously introduces a utterly wild improvisation on the left-hand, slowly taking over and transforming the piece into a turbulent musical blast; a demonstration of incredible virtuosity and independence. In the background, one can hear the distant sounds of the old Brazilian "pífano" bands, traditional marching bands playing small bamboo flutes.

As a nostalgic yet transformed musical exploration, "The Free Poetics of Henrique Eisenmann" features the virtuosity and fertile creativity of the young pianist, able to bring together the complexity of improvisation and a wide array of musical genres, sculpting a voice of artistic liberty that celebrates imagination, affection and the joy of making music together.

"Poetics is the raw essence behind a piece of art; the purpose, the fresh energy that allows art to free itself and fly opening new paths; a praise of freedom." (Henrique Eisenmann)

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Henrique Eisenmann has always been intrigued with the idea of translating different musical sonorities to the piano. Henrique focuses on unique collaborations with artists from all different fields: dancers, poets, and actors. Among his latest releases, the 2015 solo album "Notes for Pina Bausch" (inspired by the poetry of Hadassa Tal) has drawn large recognition from the dance community, being used in several dance and theater spectacles around the world. Henrique has performed and recorded with dozens of outstanding musicians such as Gunther Schuller, Luciana Souza, Bob Moses, Luis Bonilla, Matti Caspi and Tom Zé. He holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the New England Conservatory in Boston.


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