Pianist, composer, and improviser William Tatge was born of American parents in Umbria, Italy in 1978 and lived in Todi and Florence until 2008, when he moved to New York City. Tatge began studies on violin and piano at age six, and after a storied career as a student (studying classical piano and graduating summa cum laude in 2000 from the L. Cherubini Conservatory of Florence, followed by studies in composition, orchestration and conducting, earning a second degree in 2006, also summa cum laude). During these years Tatge explored improvisation and jazz and from '96 to '99 he studied privately with Stefano Bollani and attended the Siena Jazz summer workshops. Later studies included instruction with Enrico Pieranunzi, Franco D'Andrea and Paolo Birro. He also participated in Stefano Battaglia's Solo Piano and Piano Trio winter seminars in Siena in 2004 and 2005.
Tatge has gone on to fruitful career in the States, releasing two albums (Mutable Enclosures and Borderlands), and performing in clubs, concert venues and festivals throughout Europe, South America, Japan, Canada and the U.S. in solo concerts as well as with several groups, both as leader and sideman. He has collaborated with such diverse artists as bassist Felix Pastorius, visual artist Christine Meisner, clarinetist Massimo Carrozzo, drummer Jeff Hirshfield and many others. Tatge now proudly announces his debut recording for Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, and the first album to feature his NYC-based trio of Pablo Menares on bass and Nick Anderson on drums, General Cargo, to be released on June 15.
The music on General Cargo, composed over a six-year period between 2010-2015, following Tatge's move to NYC, aims to reference personal, cultural and historical cargo the artist attempts to protect and carry forward. Tatge explains further, "perhaps this music is the result of finding myself in the strange state of a repatriated expat torn between two continents and aesthetic traditions, unable to truly leave either of them behind."
The writing and playing reflect a strong connection to jazz as well as to 19th and 20th century classical music, with an occasional wink at rock and other influences. "I have always been fascinated by the way musical ideas, approaches and behaviors can travel through history and between styles, being transformed, reinterpreted or distorted, acquiring new purpose and meaning," said Tatge. To that end, the pieces are all rather extended in duration, highly structured in form, and contain more through-composed material than is usually found in the jazz piano trio context. The harmonic and rhythmic structure of the improvisational sections often shift from soloist to soloist, and there are rarely perfect recapitulations of thematic material. "My intention was to create larger pieces that could hold up structurally while maintaining a sense of openness and unpredictability, leaving enough space for interpretation and improvisational freedom," explained the composer. "Much of the material on this record is deeply indebted to the music and literature of late romanticism and early modernism; times of transition, great discoveries and linguistic breakdowns, but also times of desperate nostalgia towards a disappearing world."
The coming together of these different elements in the music on General Cargo is not always a smooth process. Sometimes it results in stark contrasts, perhaps in a sense of unresolved conflict; but ultimately, like any art with depth and significance, it can offer the creator, and the attentive, invested listener, a rewarding, enriching experience.