Thoughts on Take Bach

by Güher Pekinel

When listening to this album, the audience could ask themselves why a piano duo would be interested in Bach and Jazz. We’ve have been through a long process of development to reach this stage.

Since our childhood, Johann Sebastian Bach has always been a mirror for both of us, which reflected a true and multi-dimensional philosophy. We have found the transparency, the eternal search for the extraordinary and its direct formulation in harmony, only in Bach.

The greatness of Bach is based in his unlimited perception of identification and his desire to be in the past, now and in the future, simultaneously.

The multi-dimensional mathematics of Bach has always fascinated us. While various melodic arrangements develop in authentic labyrinths, the musical expression creates a rhythmical “process” as result of counter-dynamics which are created by 16’s and 32’s trioles notes. With re-arrangements of the features of this architecture, it is possible to catch jazz’s basic “swing”!

Is this an alienation of Bach’s music? Quite the contrary. Through transformation, music gains a new dimension and transparency. New ways in interpretation are opening for us through improvisation. With the dissolution of mathematical structures and their replacement, swing gains norm in its own substructure and lightens everything. But “lightness” does not mean “easiness”. Just the opposite. With the contribution of jazz, music gains a new and creatively different dimension. All these prove Bach’s timeless greatness.

In this context, working with Jacques Loussier gave us a new vision of Bach. We are thankful to him for this richness. When we listened to Jacques Loussier for the first time, we found out with surprise that with an original new form between improvisation and composition, he had found a new “style” based on the facts of jazz.

For us, the generation of pianists who have grown up with the interpretations of the famous pianist Glenn Gould, open to new trends, this style was a brand new and a different exploration. This led us to discover Bill Evans and George Shearing. We had the opportunity to experience them as “poets” of jazz pianists. Shearing and Evans as well as Loussier have found their original styles in jazz. All three pianists have classical backgrounds and studied not only Bach but also Brahms, Schumann, Debussy, Ravel, Satie and Milhaud’s harmonies which they combine perfectly to end up in new interpretations.
Bela Bartok has written “Contrasts Trio” for Benny Goodman, Stravinsky spent his nights at jazz bars for years and had devoted himself to writing the “Ebony Concerto” for Woody Hermann Orchestra. Developments continued from Penderecki to Boulez to our day.

This reveals that although jazz originates from New Orleans, in time it has developed a European interpretation. This idiom extraordinarily combines the classic factors with our present day. We have experienced this couple of years ago when students from all over the world started their days in Juilliard by playing jazz improvisations instead of Chopin’s etudes or Bach’s fugues.

How can an “extraordinary” connection develop and grow as an “ideal” connection? Can it learn the “freedom” which is just contrary to its fully fixed self-existing for hundreds of years that disaffirms the contraventions? For us, it is a natural process of development.

Today, all types of music are experiencing an intensive globalization in their own style, in oppositions and in touch with each other, automatically dissolving or forming a “new life” in interconnection with each other. This is best reflected by modern music. It develops a new style pattern while maintaining the radical principles and also forcing the borders, which in turn naturally gets itself close to jazz in regards of its basic concepts.

“Fusion” and “World Music” are at the beginning of a new age. In this new age, jazz as well, will look for and engage in new partnerships and collaborations.