Enrico Pieranunzi, Marc Johnson, Joey Baron feat. Kenny Wheeler

As Never Before

Cam Jazz CAMJ 7807-2

Item: full_album_8024709780720_CD

Artists :
Enrico Pieranunzi ( Piano )
Joey Baron ( Drums )
Marc Johnson ( Bass )
Kenny Wheeler ( Trumpet, Flugelhorn )
Release date
Jan 22, 2008
Duration
0:58:32

Kenny Wheeler and I met for the first time in 1997 on a concert stage: a dream come true! Now, with this CD, a dream within a dream becomes reality: an entire track list of my songs performed by Wheeler himself; not to mention the fact that the other two personnel, Marc Johnson and Joey Baron, are certainly not just any two musicians, but two extraordinary artists with whom, over the past two decades, I have shared some of the most emotional moments of my musical life.
In brief, for various reasons this album is something absolutely unique--something that, as the title suggests, has never happened before.  (E. Pieranunzi)


"The result is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful recordings of the year." (S. Broomer - All About Jazz)



Recorded in Ludwigsburg on 30 November, 1 December 2004 at Bauer Studios
Recording engineer Johannes Wohlleben

Reviews

Enrico Pieranunzi/Marc Johnson/Joey Baron: As Never Befor

On earlier CamJazz albums like Live in Japan and Ballads and two revelatory recordings of Ennio Morricone film music, this group has established itself as one of the premier piano trios in jazz. Soulful Italian romanticism simply flows from Enrico Pieranunzi. It sounds like he only needs to open the tap. Bassist Marc Johnson is a deep rhythmic anchor and a soloist as poetic as Pieranunzi. Drummer Joey Baron kicks up so much unpredictable energy that this sensitive trio never sounds soft. It is a dynamic balance that would be disrupted by most guests, but trumpeter Kenny Wheeler’s particular lyricism-free but unerringly graceful, melancholy but firm-sounds inevitable here. “Soundings” is a gradual acceleration into dizzying densities. “Improheart” and “Impromind,” new additions to Pieranunzi’s ongoing totally improvised “Impro-” series, are cryptic, spare gestures. “Winter Moon” has a muted throb that could be Latin. The title track and “Many Moons Ago” and “Time’s Passage” are like flawless curves of melody that Pieranunzi found floating in the air. But these separate, varied pieces (all Pieranunzi originals) form a single fabric, a poignant, meditative suite. Pieranunzi and Wheeler share a musical worldview, but express it in contrasting instrumental voices. Wheeler is breath, in cries and sighs. Pieranunzi is touch, point to point, in intricate strands. As Never Before is Enrico Pieranunzi’s 11th album as a leader or co-leader for CamJazz, and it is one of the strongest achievements within this important body of work.

1/8/2008jazztimes.comThomas Conrad
As Never Before
"Come mai prima" è un titolo impegnativo per un disco: sottintende una quieta soddisfazione per un'intesa raggiunta che, senza alcuna forma di pudore, si vuol esporre al giudizio di tutti. Il pianista italiano dice che questo è il "Trio del suo cuore", e non c'è ombra di dubbio che gli esiti precedentemente documentati siano stati di alto livello. Però qui si va oltre: e l'"oltre" è la tromba incantata e melanconica di Kenny Wheeler, che sembra spronare il trio tutto a un'intesa rabdomantica, a una compattezza duttile che, sempre e comunque, ci torna a narrare l'antico segreto del jazz dove ognuno interagisce alla pari con gli altri, e rinasce la poesia.

Giudizio: IMMENSO
08/03/08Alias - Il ManifestoGuido Festinese
As Never Before – three stars
“Comme jamais auparavant”. Comme l’indique le titre, Enrico Pieranunzi a le sentiment d’avoir réalisé un album de premier plan. On ne le contredira pas. La rencontre avec Kenny Wheeler n’est certes pas la première à avoir été enregistrée puisque “Fellini Jazz” (2003) avait déjà été publié grâce à l’excellent label romain CamJazz. Mais le dialogue entre le trompettiste anglo-canadien et le pianiste n’avait peut-être pas atteint un tel niveau. Kenny Wheeler, comme toujours, ne ressemble qu’à lui-même et surprend par son art de la fêlure, du glissement et de trous d’air. Il n’y a pas de trompettiste qui soit plus proche de la voix, si capable d’exprimer une “si puissante tendresse humaine” (Proust parlant de Beethoven). Enrico Pieranunzi reste au second plan et donne libre cours au pur plaisir de jouer. Les compositions du pianiste ou les improvisations collectives du quartet obéissent à un langage mainstream d’aujourd’hui : de beaux thèmes, mais qui n’imposent pas une réimpression immédiate du Real Book. Ce sont plutôt des “polizzine non richiamate” des “petits bulletins non mentionnés” conçus pour stimuler la création collective. Ce qui fait la qualité du disque, c’est la liberté de l’interprétation, la profondeur de l’inspiration collective et la forte cohésion de l’ensemble. Avec une mention particulière pour Marc Johnson, qui livre une belle leçon de contrebasse. Une écoute à plein volume permettra d’en savourer toute la force.
03/04/08JazzmanLucas Delattre
As Never Before – disques d’émoi
Dans les liner notes, Pieranunzi rend hommage au merveilleux “Gnu High” signé par Wheeler en 1975 (avec excusez du peu, Jarrett, Holland et DeJohnette). Par bien des aspects, on en retrouve ici l’atmosphère, soit un alliage singulier d’éloquence et de retenue. Le sentiment d’une réussite absolue nous saisit d’emblée (“Soundings”). Inimitable, l’intonation de Kenny Wheeler offre, par ses failles et son incertitude même, la quintessence d’une voix instrumentale… On frissonne, dès le thème de “A Nameless Gate”, de la profondeur qui émane des légères fluctuations du débit d’air. Personne, hormis peut-être Dave Douglas, ne fait chanter ainsi l’embouchure dans le jazz d’aujourd’hui, pour ce que nous en connaissons. Jusque dans leurs détails mélodiques, les compositions du leader assument et révèlent, sous un nouveau jour, les traits distinctifs de son soliste. La marque, en somme, d’un (grand) compositeur de jazz. Écoutez, par exemple, comment le thème de “Song for Kenny” joue sur la façon toute personnelle du trompettiste de conquérir les aigus. Le reste est dan le jeu qui advient, dans une interaction exemplaire tant les forces musicales en présence sont ici concentrées. On admirera encore la façon dont le pianiste prolonge, notamment par ses entrées de chorus, le lyrisme mélodique de Wheeler. Ainsi, dans la ballade éponyme, fait-il d’abord appel à un jeu linéaire et ponctué de respirations, avant de ressaisir son instrument dans toute sa plénitude harmonique. Marc Johnson , en héritier de Scott LaFaro, ne quitte jamais le chant toute en jouant son rôle de pilier de l’édifice. Liant et liane à la fois, Joey Baron donne quant à lui tout son sens à la notion d’accompagnement. Par deux fois (“Improheart”, “Impromind”), Pieranunzi entraîne ses partenaires vers le “free form” qu’il affectionne. Partout ailleurs au bugle, Wheeler choisit ici, avec la trompette bouchée, une sonorité plus perçante et aérienne qui renforce son intégration à l’ensemble.
10/04/08Jazz magazineVincent Cotro
New jazz recordings full of small treasures
The second album, "As Never Before," is less dependent on the source of influence, being a record from more mature musicians, the Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi and the Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.
Pieranunzi comes from the Evans school of harmonic radiance, by way of Herbie Hancock, with some of Jamal's rhythmic elan. Wheeler, who played a brilliant concert at Lawrence University a few years ago, may be the finest lyric trumpeter in jazz today.
He's a free-spirited yet finely attuned post-Miles Davis stylist who exploits the beauty of brass more than its bravura, thus his doubling on the flugelhorn. He's an immensely intelligent and sensitive improviser and an excellent composer, whose sense of form blesses this record throughout.
Pieranunzi's sense of ardent drama surpasses Evans -- call it the Italian factor, perhaps. His solo on the opening "Soundings" insistently builds in surging gulps of tempo.
On "Improvheart," Wheeler positively slays in slow motion, with his Miles Davis-like mute turning and sustaining the phrases with a limpid sense of secret drama. Pieranunzi is right there, exquisitely shadowing him. And then it's gone, in three minutes and 16 seconds.
Pieranunzi's mastery centers around a fluency of phrasing that makes the listener almost forget the instrument's percussive mechanics. His touch and effortless feel for forward motion mark the quality of his swing, often skipping ahead of the beat, to tug it along, like the breaking edge of a wave, as on "A Nameless Game."
The bassist Marc Johnson was Bill Evans' last bassist, and drummer Joey Baron is a master of this intimate idiom. Each consistently finds his place and motion in perfect accord.
24/04/08THE CAPITAL TIMESeditorial
As Never Before
Pianist Enrico Pieranunzi isn't the only artist influenced by Kenny Wheeler's classic Gnu High. It's a safe bet that the trumpeter's 1976 debut as a leader for ECM, featuring the perfect line-up of pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette, has been one of small group jazz's most influential albums of the past thirty years; as remarkable for Wheeler's inimitable writing as its unparalleled performances. Few, however, get the opportunity to recruit Wheeler in the same quartet context for an album perhaps lacking the “classic” stamp of Gnu High, but coming darn close. With seven Pieranunzi compositions and two group improvisations of complete spontaneity but equally immediate compositional focus, the pianist augments his existing trio of bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron with Wheeler, making As Never Before an appropriately titled disc that actually manages to surpass Pieranunzi's career-defining Live in Japan (Cam Jazz, 2007). Pieranunzi, Johnson and Baron may not have the cachet of Jarrett, Holland and DeJohnette. Still, over the past quarter century they've established themselves individually as comfortable in a variety of environments and, now early into its third decade, a trio capable of musical empathy akin to that Johnson experienced with his first major employer, the late legend Bill Evans. Pieranunzi, like most modern pianists, owes much to Evans, but he's long since transcended Evans as an overt reference point. If there's any pianist with whom he shares much these days it's John Taylor, who has worked regularly with Wheeler for five decades, making the Pieranunzi/Wheeler pairing an equally winning combination.

Nor is this Pieranunzi's first recorded encounter with Wheeler. FelliniJazz (Cam Jazz, 2004) also brought the two together, but on a set of music culled largely from soundtracks to films of the great Frederico Fellini, and with a line-up possessing its own strength but lacking the simpatico inherent in a group that's worked together for twenty-five years. FelliniJazz's strength was in how its players found common ground to interpret non-original music with their own voices; written with this line-up in mind, As Never Before even more successfully speaks to the players' individual strengths.

And what strengths. Baron, beginning as a vivacious and raucous player on the downtown New York scene, has evolved into a drummer of great nuance, swinging lightly alongside Johnson on “Time's Passage” while energetically punctuating without losing sight of the song's evocative resonance. Johnson, a most elegant and lyrical bassist, is the litmus test for perfection in instantaneous choice, balancing rhythm section responsibilities with a conversational approach that feeds Pieranunzi's own thematic disposition to solo building.

And what of Wheeler? Approaching eighty, his peerless technique shows no signs of weakening, with every solo combining his unmistakable melancholy melodism with a nearly unequaled ability to deliver perfection, take after take. Quintessential modern mainstream jazz, As Never Before blends traditional elements with European classicism and, like its players, is as unassuming as it is stellar; as honest, committed and selfless as intimate, small group jazz gets.

Track listing: Soundings; Improheart; A Nameless Gate; As Never Before; Many Moons Ago; Impromind; Song for Kenny; Time's Passage; Winter Moon.

Personnel: Enrico Pieranunzi: piano; Marc Johnson: bass: Joey Baron: drums; Kenny Wheeler: trumpet, flugelhorn.
02/05/08www.allaboutjazz.comJohn Kelman
Dette møtet mellom fire av jazzens store, men litt mer ukjente navn, har ført til empatisk musikk av sjeldent merke.
Den 58 år gamle italienske pianisten Enrico Pieranunzi er i musikk-kretser regna som en av de aller største begavelsene og lyrikerne. Det at blant andre Chet Baker og Charlie Haden har foretrukket den teknisk skolerte pianisten på turer til Europa sier det meste i så henseende.

Vi har hatt gleden av å høre Pieranunzi ved flere anledninger her hjemme både solo og sammen med bassist Terje Gewelt. De seineste åra har det også dukka opp en rekke CD-innspillinger – stort sett i trioformat – med både Haden og Paul Motian og etter hvert med den faste konstellasjonen med amerikanerne Joey Baron på trommer og Marc Johnson på bass.

Johnsons erfaring fra salige Bill Evans’ siste trio er videreutvikla og i slike settinger framstår Johnson som kanskje den mest uttrykksfulle bassist overhodet. Den usedvanlig allsidige Baron – med fartstid både fra Bill Frisell og John Zorn – er en så smakfull trommeslager som vel tenkelig.

I 1997 fikk Pieranunzi oppfylt en av sine store musikalske drømmer. Han fikk møte ett av sine store forbilder – den canadisk-engelske trompeteren og flügelhornisten Kenny Wheeler – på ei scene. Seint på høsten 2004 blei den neste drømmen også virkelighet – de gikk i studio for å spille inn et knippe av Pieranunzis låter. Det er denne delen av drømmen vi blir invitert med på her.

Sju av de ni låtene er skrevet av Pieranunzi mens de to siste er improvisasjoner skapt der og da. Det er hele tida høyverdige samtaler mellom fire likeverdige partnere med voldsom respekt for hverandre. Alle er i besittelse av høyst personlige stemmer og Wheeler, som for flere år siden jobba mye i Norge med norske musikere, er blant de trompeterne/flügelhornistene på jord som det tar kun en ansats å kjenne igjen.

”As Never Before” – det er helt riktig at denne musikken aldri har vært spilt før – er evig og totalt tidløs. Den flytter inn i deg og tar bolig og den gir deg faktisk sjelefred. Den arrangør her hjemme som makter å få denne kvartetten på ei scene er sikra minst én tilskuer.
13/05/08www.side2.noTor Hammerø
ENRICO PIERANUNZI/KENNY WHEELER As Never Before
This unites the great Pieranunzi-Marc Johnson-Joey Baron trio with one of the treasures of jazz, trumpet and flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler, for a programme of Pieranunzi’s compositions.
Wheeler’s wary lyricism chimes almost symbiotically with the melancholy underlying Pieranunzi’s sun-dappled elegance; both draw eloquent sustenance from the union on an album whose charms grow with repeated hearing. With Johnson and Baron they shape superbly interactive performances from the deceptive simplicity of “As Never Before”, “Winter Moon” and the celebratory “Song for Kenny”, while the fluently expressive treatment of “Many Moons” balances delicacy with forthrightness. A couple of spontaneous improves reinforce the unity of this quartet; the mystery is why it’s taken nearly four years to release it. Sound, by the great Bauer studio in Ludwigsburg, is a joy.
16/05/08The Irish TimesRay Comiskey
Enrico Pieranunzi / Marc Johnson / Joey Baron As Never Before
Sur As Never Before, le trio du pianiste Pieranunzi donne la mesure du talent intégral qui habite chaque joueur de ce CD. Son minéral, nappes denses et phases souvent enjouées d’un jazz de laboratoire qui ne souffre pas de manque de grand air. La grande classe.
15/04/08START UPHG
Pieranunzi, Johnson, Baron, Wheeler AS NEVER BEFORE
“Come mai prima,” a detta dello stesso Pieranunzi, l’occasione di riunirsi ad un altro grande, e di confermare la grande fratellanza con due musicisti di primissimo piano: rispettivamente Kenny Wheeler, gloria inglese della tromba e del flicorno jazz, e un perno centrale della ritmica, Joey Baron e Marc Johnson, insomma uno di quei pochi casi in cui si può dire “il” trio. Di ormai consolidato carisma, il trio di Enrico Pieranunzi (che non diserta formazioni parallele e non prive d’interesse) ha le carte in regola per proporsi in chiara alternativa a quel Keith Jarrett trio, cristallizzato nell’inarrivabile stile (tacendone per una volta le impresentabili bizze) o al trio di Brad Mehldau (offuscato da un certo calo di visibilità e di strategia creativa) e, con diverso idioma, all’EST di Svensson-Berglund-Öström, in crescendo e ben più che una promessa. Wheeler è musicista luminoso, presente, capace di fulminare il pianista dai tempi della scoperta nel suo miliare “Gnu High” (1976) e qui, come s’intuisce, si rivela grande coprotagonista. Provvisto di grezza e potente materia, che svela la ruvida affettività, è capace di declinare il suo linguaggio in una dimensione simultaneamente interiorizzata e condivisa. Il tocco pulito, essenzialmente leggero di Pieranunzi sa esprimersi in campo aperto nell’interplay intoccabile e di eccelsa tempistica che sancisce la respirazione perfetta del gruppo, sul fertile humus del caldo strumento di Johnson e l’articolazione dell’ingegnoso “scavezzacollo” Baron. L’affinamento e l’intesa del trio sta raggiungendo una dimensione anche sentimentale, se da tempo il pianista si è trovato ad affermare “questa collaborazione è ormai un romanzo”, e l’ultima incisione Cam Jazz ne è ennesima lezione di classe, calore melodico e cordiale comunicativa.

Commento tecnico:
qualità musicale: 8,5
qualità tecnica: 8,5
12/06/08SuonoRomualdo Del Noce
Quatre gentlemen poètes
Pour réussir un disque, choisir trois gentlemen pratiquant ensemble depuis de longues années un jazz élégant et ébouriffant d’intelligence : le pianiste Enrico Pieranunzi, le contrebassiste Marc Johnson et le batteur Joey Baron. Puis leur adjoindre un musicien blanchi sous le harnais et appartenant à la même lignée esthétique, le trompettiste Kenny Wheeler. Le résultat est à coup sûr de haute tenue. Lorsque Enrico Pieranunzi parle avec admiration du “lyrisme mélancolique” de Kenny Wheeler, il pourrait d’ailleurs tout aussi bien s’appliquer ce qualificatif. La retenue est ici de rigueur et la poésie affleure à chaque note. Que les amateurs de bruit et de fureur en prennent de la graine.
29/03/08la CroixYann Mens
Kenny le lirique
…Plus strictement jazzy est “As never before”, album lui aussi produit par CamJazz, dont la paternité est accordée à Enrico Pieranunzi mais où Kenny Wheeler intervient au moins à égalité avec le pianiste italien. La formation, déjà, est conforme à la vulgate jazz, puisque tous deux sont soutenus par Marc Johnson à la contrebasse et Joey Baron à la batterie. Casting de rêve… On se souviendra que, lors d’un récent “Nancy Jazz Pulsations”, Pieranunzi avait charmé le public du Vertigo par l’élégance et la fluidité de son phrasé. Là, il se garde bien de tirer la couverture à lui, laissant Wheeler nous fendre le cœur avec les sanglots de son bugle ou les soupirs de sa trompette bouchée. Mais l’Italien adhère pleinement au lyrisme de son invité el le relance dès qu’il peut, soulignant par la couleur ensoleillée de son jeu les méditations lunaires du pierrot souffleur. Dès le premier titre, “Soundings”, on est saisi par la cohésion du quartet. Cette connivence ne se défait jamais, même dans les formes plus brèves et plus libres que sont “Improheart”, et “Impromind”. Chant et contrechant, sobriété,art de la fêlure et de la litote… “As never before” demontré de manière éclatante que le jazz est la musique classique du XXe siècle.
08/06/08Le Républicain LorrainRichard Sourgnes
AS NEVER BEFORE
Registrato nel 2004 ma pubblicato soltanto adesso, As never before fa del proprio titolo un manifesto. È la prima volta che il più importante e seguito gruppo in cui sia coinvolto Enrico Pieranunzi incontra le sonorità liriche della tromba di Kenny Wheeler. I due avevano già collaborato (oltre che in concerto) nel riuscitissimo Fellini Jazz, di qualche anno precedente, ma è la prima volta che il trombettista affronta solo composizioni originali del pianista italiano.
Il risultato è eccezionale: il suono pungente ma sinuoso di Wheeler si sposa magnificamente con le arditezze armoniche di Pieranunzi, confezionando una musica sopra le righe, emozionante: esemplari certi passaggi della conclusiva Winter moon. Improheart (uno dei due brani interamente improvvisati racchiusi nel disco, insieme a Impromind) racchiude nei suoi soli tre minuti uno dei vertici più alti della pura improvvisazione toccati negli ultimi anni. Indispensabile, qui, l'apporto dei piatti di Baron, che conferma ancora una volta il suo incredibile lirismo (e se lirico sembra un aggettivo fuori posto per un batterista, si ascoltino i suoi piatti e, ne siamo convinti, si cambierà idea) mettendo precisamente la punteggiatura alle frasi dei due solista.
Tutti e quattro i musicisti qui sembrano in stato di grazia, espressioni di un feeling tra i più intensi del jazz moderno. Le capacità compositive di Pieranunzi sono ben note a tutti, e questo disco non fa eccezione: i temi sono limpidi, per quanto su strutture armoniche ardite che danno sempre al solista di turno materiale in abbondanza per potersi lanciare in assoli dirompenti. Di una intensità lancinante, a titolo di esempio, il breve momento solista di Johnson in A nameless gate. Tutto funziona alla perfezione, i musicisti sono di livello eccezionale, e il disco decolla; non c'è altro da aggiungere. L'atmosfera accoglie l'ascoltatore in pieno, è rarefatta e sottile, di una raffinatezza rara.
"Questo disco è qualcosa di assolutamente unico... qualcosa che, come suggerisce il titolo, non è mai accaduto prima". Forse Pieranunzi, nelle liner notes, si riferisce più che altro a Wheeler che esegue sue composizioni. Lo rigiriamo pari pari per l'assoluta qualità del disco.
Non riusciamo davvero a immaginare quali motivi abbiano spinto la CamJazz a tenere nascosta una perla del genere per quasi cinque anni.
22/07/08Jazz ConventionDiego D’Angelo
As Never Before (featuring Kenny Wheeler) Enrico Pieranunzi/Marc Johnson/Joey Baron
…”As Never Before” unites Pieranunzi with one of the musicians he most admires – trumpeter Kenny Wheeler – and a rhythm section with which he’s worked frequently, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron. The compositions are all Pieranunzi’s – except for two collective improvisations – and they’re a perfect fit for Wheeler, as closely matched to his lines as his own pieces might be. Pieranunzi’s vehicles can at once lend themselves to a host of moods. Often a surge of energy from one player will break through a certain somber or pensive moment, or a sudden aside may clarify and collect a host of relationships. It’s a command of architecture coupled with an awareness of each instant’s potential exchange that unites the four musicians, creating an energy and drive rarely glimpsed in the lyric tradition to which they belong. On pieces like “Soundings” and “Many Moons Ago”, Pieranunzi plays with a force and authority that carry his lines into fresh harmonic and rhythmic terrain. The result is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful recording of the year.
02/10/08AllAboutJazzStuart Broomer