Onwards with Enescu

Monday, October 26, 2009 - 01:29 PM

Jazz pianist and composer Lucian Ban concludes the story of his recent project ENESCU re-IMAGINED from Merkin Hall. Ban hails from Cluj, Transylvania, Romania, but lives in New York City where he is part of the next generation of performers and composers at the forefront of modern jazz. 

Guest Blogger: Lucian Ban

What did I hope to accomplish with this project? First, this was something that I had to do, as a matter of personal history and as a tribute to Enescu's music and genius. But the more I discovered his lesser known music, the more I became convinced that he has to be presented more, so more people, more musicians can hear the stunning depth of his works. And finally, I wanted to find out if I could do justice to his music by staying true to what I am: a jazz musician.

Somebody asked me in regards to this project, “Why is it important to constantly reconsider or re-imagine the works of the past?" I think by reconsidering and re-imaging them constantly we keep them alive. Otherwise they will die or be relegated to the unimportant. If you think about it, with jazz this has been happening from the very beginning. Generation after generation of artists re-considered the music of their predecessors and innovated along the way. Of course, there are many other aspects to it--historical, political, structural--but I think that those aspects aside, this is how an art form functions.

What does it mean to re-imagine? It can mean so many things, but in our case we wanted to re-imagine some of Enescu's works from our perspective as contemporary jazz musicians. I have to point out that what we call contemporary jazz (for a lack of a better term) in fact blurs heavily the demarcations between classical, contemporary, chance and other genres. Still, something is heard and felt immediately when jazz musicians are involved in the process: a unique quality to jazz music that’s not to be found in any other genre.

There were and are many great jazz musicians that approached the classical idiom in a meaningful way, from the great West Coast arrangers, composers and musicians--think of J. Giuffre, Mingus, and Fred Katz--to the third stream-ers like Gunther Schuller and Many Albam, all the way to today’s musicians like Marty Erlich, John Hollenbeck, and Uri Caine, who do some of the most interesting re-imaginings of the classics.

After our NYC concert, I can say this: I’m extremely happy I got the chance to do this, to work with John Hébert and with these extraordinary musicians, with all the other wonderful people involved, and most importantly to truly discover the music and genius of my countryman George Enescu. Click here for some beautiful photographs from the NYC concert.

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Comments [1]

william pagenkopf from flushing, ny

Playing at Carnegie in a Russian Balalaika
orchestra, no harp, so had to attempt doing the harp part on piano.
Enescu Rhapsody # 1.........

Nov. 15 2009 10:25 AM

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