Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - John Kelman
Still on the shy side of 40, British pianist Matthew Bourne has accomplished more, in a relatively short time, than many do in a lifetime. Bourne has leaned farther to the left for most of his career, experimenting in both acoustic and electric environs with a free-thinking approach informed, to some extent, by Annette Peacock, that unclassifiable singer/writer responsible for some of pianist Paul Bley's most compelling composition-based music, and who was the subject of a two-disc tribute by pianist Marilyn Crispell, Nothing Ever Matters, Anyway (ECM, 1997). Like Peacock, Bourne may lean towards the abstruse, the rarefied and the recondite, but he's no stranger to beauty and simplicity. Montauk Variations is a largely solo outing and on it, this multiple award-winning pianist largely examines a space of calm quietude, though that doesn't mean his generally soft surfaces don't have the occasional harder edge or angular twist.
Inspired by a brief four-hour stay in Montauk, a beach resort on the tip of Long Island, New York, Bourne has described the album as "two years of thinking and three days of recording," but if that suggests, perhaps, that the pianist has engaged in too much preconception, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite Montauk Variations's clear suggestion of form, it also feels entirely spontaneous, a combination of daytime (well, really nighttime as he often recorded in the early hours of the morning, when things were at their most tranquil) studio sessions and nighttime concerts in Devon, England's Dartington Hall. The album was mainly recorded in Dartington, with the exception of a handful of tunes recorded in Manchester a couple weeks later, including the sparsely majestic "Infinitude," based on two simple but compelling chords, and the more propulsive "Juliet," which feels a little like Brad Mehldau's solo excursions, though less virtuosic in intent. ... read more...
Uncut (magazine) (p.81) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[The songs] really hit the spot when he lingers on simple themes, as with the hypnotic 'Infinitude' and 'Juliet', and the Satie-esque 'Phantasie'."
Personnel: Matthew Bourne (cello, piano).
Audio Mixer: Sam Hobbs .
Liner Note Author: Matthew Bourne .
Recording information: Rebel Elements, Wharfedale (05/24/2011-05/25/2011); St Margaret's Rectory, Manchester (05/24/2011-05/25/2011); The Great Hall, Dartington, Devon (05/24/2011-05/25/2011); Rebel Elements, Wharfedale (06/11/2011-06/12/2011); St Margaret's Rectory, Manchester (06/11/2011-06/12/2011); The Great Hall, Dartington, Devon (06/11/2011-06/12/2011); Rebel Elements, Wharfedale (06/18/2011-06/19/2011); St Margaret's Rectory, Manchester (06/18/2011-06/19/2011); The Great Hall, Dartington, Devon (06/18/2011-06/19/2011).
Photographer: Joe Stanley Austin.