The violin and piano sonatas of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel draw on foreign idioms: gypsy music in Debussy's case and African-American blues in Ravel's. But they remain completely French works, spiced with something exotic, and British violinist Jennifer Pike forges interpretations that keep this in mind. Start with the "Blues" slow movement of the Ravel Violin Sonata in G major: Pike and her accompanist, Martin Roscoe, avoid exaggerating the bluesy qualities of the music and instead emphasize the odd, almost tense disconnection between violin and piano that, combined with the languid blues melodies, gives this piece its special piquancy.
Jennifer Pike, who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition at the tender age of 12, appears to have survived the perils of prodigyhood and entered her early twenties with musical intelligence intact. Here she offers a terrific program of music from the middle of the 19th century; all of it is abstract, but it brings vividly to mind the crucial trio of creative figures who met in the early 1850s: the ailing Robert Schumann, his musically frustrated wife Clara, and the young Johannes Brahms, mooning over the latter.
This Portrait LP was vibraphonist Dave Pike's second recording as a leader. Pike is joined by bassist Herbie Lewis, drummer Walter Perkins, and most notably pianist Bill Evans. It was one of the pianist's first sessions after the tragic death of his bassist, Scott LaFaro, and gives listeners a rare opportunity to hear Evans this late in his career as a sideman. The music is fairly spontaneous, consisting of two ballads, "Besame Mucho," "Vierd Blues," and Pike's "Why Not" (inspired by Miles Davis' "So What"). An excellent if generally overlooked straight-ahead set.
This disc is a bit unusual in a few ways. Vibraphonist Dave Pike sticks here exclusively to the marimba, while pianist Herbie Hancock is heard throughout on organ, an instrument he rarely played again. The band also includes two trumpeters (most notably Clark Terry who has a few short solos) and a rhythm section with guitarist Billy Butler. Most of the music consists of obscurities and is open to the influences of the boogaloo and pop rhythms of the era; highlights include Hancock's "Blind Man, Blind Man," "Sunny" and "Devilette." An interesting effort.
Live at the Philharmonie was the Dave Pike Set's third record for MPS in the year 1969 alone; Noisy Silence-Gentle Noise (MPS 15215) and the stellar Four Reasons (MPS 15253) preceded it. One of the most interesting ideas about this amazing set of music concerns the notorious circumstances under which it was recorded, at the 1969 Berlin Jazz Days festival. The reason for this is the year itself: Miles Davis and his group had brought their fiery brand of electricity to jazz and its reverberations were being heard the world over. At the same time, prog rock and Krautrock were making their heads (considered ugly by jazz purists) known in the guises of Can, Neu!, Amon Düül, and Faust. Add to this Charlie Mariano's great band, the new hip embracing of rock culture by the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, Peter Herbolzheimer's Rhythm Combination & Brass, and any number of other groups, and Berlin was in a state of tension. The wild thing is, everybody agreed on Pike's group – it was the bridge between the jazz tradition, what was transpiring, and what was to come.
On the 19th November 2010, 29 men were killed in the Pike River Mine explosion. This documentary tells a story of courage and determination of the mothers, sisters and wives left behind.