After his confident display as a full-fledged piano soloist in 2016 (Piano Tales), with Blend Pages Enrico Zanisi has started a fresh page on his artistic path towards freeing himself from the close relationship with the piano and moving forward into compositional explorations. Having won the Top Jazz award as the Best New Talent in 2012, Enrico Zanisi is delivering his fifth album in a period of change, driven by a wish to write chamber music by directly drawing from his classical background that he melds with improvisation and his recent electronic inspiration. Without losing sight of its influences (Ravel, Debussy, Béla Bartók, Bill Evans...), Blend Pages opens up to a larger orchestration. To this end, the Roman composer is supported by an unusual ensemble, whose members change and alternate throughout the 9 original tracks on this record. Recorded in France in 2017 and originally conceived for piano and string quartet, Blend Pages experienced a natural evolution, which led Zanisi to head in a different direction, until its last takes. “I realized that I would feel freer to orchestrate my musical ideas if I started to switch roles within the ensemble. Hence, I chose to put together a “unique” quartet that could express itself above and beyond the score”, as Enrico Zanisi put it. By doing this, the string quartet (Quatuor IXI: Régis Huby and Clément Janinet on violin, Guillaume Roy on viola and Atsushi Sakaï on cello), having been joined by Gabriele Mirabassi and Michele Rabbia, broadened its own compositional palette, leaving space for the pianist to enter new territories of timbre and dynamics. When playing solo, the clarinet supports the framework of compositions, while the piano, percussion and electronics unleash other musical frequencies and dark sounds, within an ensemble without any low-pitched instruments. Like a fine novelist who weaves together the threads of his characters page after page, Enrico Zanisi both leads and allows performers to express themselves according to their own individual styles. Blend Pages means to mix pages up, rearrange them time and time again, draw from different worlds to describe the same universe. Thus, mixing, but not muddling. Indeed, each track has its own distinctive feature, but the empathy of the ensemble makes the whole album stylistically consistent. Blend Pages amazes and stuns, enlightens and keeps listeners pinned throughout all the nine chapters of what can be seen as a novel of sound, in which countless characters and fanciful creatures let themselves be described but not completely captured. Enrico Zanisi has faced this new creative effort with the awareness of a renewed compositional urgency, by placing the elements on an Escher chessboard, the rationale of which can only be grasped through the comprehensive perspective of a focused listening experience.
Recorded in Malakoff (France) on 3, 4, 5 April 2017 at Studio Sextan La Fonderie
Recording engineer Johannes Wohlleben
Photos by Elisa Caldana
Liner notes by Eric Delhaye