Monday 12th November ACT Night -celebrating 20 years of ACT Records
MICHAEL WOLLNY + IIRO RANTALA with ADAM BALDYCH Venue: St James's Piccadilly
Time (onstage): 7.30 p.m.
Ticket price: £20/£15
Two giants of contemporary piano - Germany's Michael Wollny and Finland's Iiro Rantala celebrate ACT's 20th birthday. Iiro will be joined by young Polish violin phenomenon Adam Baldych for a sensational finale.
MICHAEL WOLLNY Since Michael Wollny released his ACT debut album “call it [em]” in January 2005, the critics have been raving about the young pianist: “Young enough to not have to drag around the burden of jazz history with him and alert enough to re-discover something old everyday,” wrote the ZEIT newspaper. Eleven albums later and Wollny is today regarded as “Germany’s greatest (jazz) musician personality since Albert Mangelsdorff” (Hamburger Abendblatt). Wollny, born in 1978 in Schweinfurt, began improvising when he was only 5 years-old when he had his first piano and violin lessons which also included classical music studies. He finally discovered jazz when he heard Keith Jarrett’s “Cologne Concert” and went to Würzburg to study with Chris Beier. In 2007 Michael Wollny proved that he is one of the most notable international pianists with his solo album “Hexentanz” which was named CD of the year in France. In 2009, together with German piano legend Joachim Kühn, he was responsible for one of the finest hours of piano music, full of intensity (“Live at Schloss Elmau”). With saxophonist Heinz Sauer, Wollny recorded two duo albums, also award-winning: “Certain Beauty” and “Melancholia”. With his 2009 album “Wunderkammer“ which featured a celesta, harmonium, Fender Rhodes and concert grand piano as the sound spectrum, Wollny proved that he is not only a pianist who is good for creating surprises but also someone who is always keen to redefine his music both soundwise as well as compositionally. Together with the Israeli harpsichordist Tamar Halperin, Wollny searched for the unheard of and, in 2010, he won the ECHO Jazz award as “Best Pianist National”. In the autumn of the same year, he released the fourth album of his trio “[em] Live at JazzBaltica“ with Eva Kruse (bass) and Eric Schaefer (drums). Great Britain’s renowned critic Stuart Nicholson called the recording, “probably the best jazz album of the past 25 years” (Jazzwise) whilst in Germany the trio was named the “Best German Ensemble” (ECHO Jazz 2011). Wollny’s most recent album with his trio [em] is called “Wasted & Wanted“. The recording unites for the first time all aspects of his complex personality as a musician – from intricate and complex arrangements and the pianist expression of “Hexentanz” to the mystic-magical mood of “Wunderkammer” and rock influences. Powerful, modern, emotional, intelligent, virtuoso, energetic, open in all directions yet, at the same time, fully independent – Wollny offers a convincing answer to the question regarding the future of German jazz.
"Iiro Rantala is a pianistic sensation who makes the strongest case I know to believe in reincarnation because his pianistic technique and musical sensitivity speak of depths which appear impossible to have been achieved in this lifetime alone...." - Gil Goldstein, pianist and arranger, NY.
After touring the world for 18 years with Trio Töykeät, Finnish piano virtuoso Iiro Rantala is refreshingly still at the forefront of international pianism. The energetic keyboard lion crosses musical genres with style, ease and excitement, playing at his exhilarating and adventurous best. Definitely entertaining, zany, unconventional and occasionally wicked, but always uncompromising. Iiro Rantala is among the most internationally visible Finnish musicians, and is second to none when it comes to unsurpassable keyboard technique and flaring showmanship. The pianist first became infected by music in the Finnish children's choir Cantores Minores at the age of seven, and not long afterwards was taking piano lessons. Iiro’s piano studies took him to the Oulunkylä Pop/Jazz Institute, and the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and also included studying piano at the Manhattan School of Music in New York for two years in the early 1990s. Rantala is best known as the founder and pianist of Trio Töykeät, Finland's most famous and longest running jazz group (until 2006), which became one of the biggest success stories in Finnish jazz, and gave over 2.000 concerts in 40 countries since 1988, and released eight albums. The pianist has been the winner of all major jazz awards in Finland during his more than 20 year career.
Exploring the boundaries between musical genres is a strong characteristic of Rantala’s artistic personality. He appears in Finland with symphony orchestras, performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Mozart’s No.23 piano concerto, and his own Concerto in G#majAs, first premiered in 2003 with the Tapiola Sinfonietta. Rantala’s creative diversity has also seen him intensively engaged with music for children’s theatre, as well as performing with cross-over classical musicians, including the Finnish vocal group Rajaton, and recently as a tango duo with world renowned virtuoso violinist Pekka Kuusisto.
Iiro Rantala has hosted his own music talk show on the Finnish national broadcaster YLE, started 2006 and continious today.
Since 2010 Iiro Rantala has focused on the development of his solo piano career. His ACT debut “Lost Heroes” is his first solo recording and a very personal homage to outstanding musicians in history like Jean Sibelius, Esbjörn Svensson, Oscar Peterson, Jaco Pastorius and Luciano Pavarotti.
„Without any doubt the greatest living jazz violinist. […] One can expect everything from him.” That is how after the Jazz Fest concert in Berlin, Ulrich Olshausen from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote about Adam.
"New York-based violinist Adam Baldych releases imaginative, gorgeous new album. Baldych aims for the stars, his violin offering dreamy, swirling textures. Absolutely gorgeous and totally unexpected" - All About Jazz
"What remains is to hope that as many music connoisseurs as possible will eventually discover this gem and hold it dear to their hearts. I certainly hope it does happen, big time, as it is well deserved!" - Adam Baruch / Israel Jazzis
“Baldych reaches the highs and lows of the emotional spectrum with stunningly vivid imagery, creating a kind of poetry that is narrated by musical notes.” - Robert Sutton / Jazz Corner
"Throughout it all Baldych delivers a non-stop display of violin mastery, the kind of dazzling performances that can put a young artist on the global map." - Walter Johns / Jazz Times
Violinist, composer and music producer. Was born in Gorzów Wlkp, (Poland), 18.05.1986.
His nickname "Evil" is probably the best word defining his emotionl kind of playing and improvising. In the age of 16, Adam started performing internationally (Germany, Poland, Serbia, Hungary, Indonesia, Spain, France, USA). First called "infant prodigy" evolved to being named one of the most interesting jazz violinist in Europe. Adam Bałdych’s music is an extremely expressive combination of modern musical flows. The virtuosity, which is the trademark of the artist make Adam's concerts an unique sight full of energy, youthful zing, but also a mature sound, that receives popularity and respect both from the audience and critics.
Often compared with the greatests: Michał Urbaniak and Henryk Wieniawski. Himself about his inspirations, he says: Rachmaninoff, Radiohead, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix.
“Adam's music is quite unlike anything I've heard before. At times, it treads on the same Indie-jazz territory as Sickafoose's Tiny Resistors, but really, Baldych seems to have paced off some jazz territory all his own. Beautiful violin with plenty of fire and grace, clearly influenced by other music, very much rooted in jazz. Adam relocated to NYC recently, but this is more excellent jazz from Poland”. - Dave Summer / All About Jazz
Adam is also author of music for theaters and film scoring. He got scholarship at Berklee College of Music. Graduated with honors Music Academy / jazz department in Katowice (Poland). In 2007 he did a project with Grammy-award winner - Jim Beard, presenting Adams' music combined with Jim's great compositions.
Year after, he makes music with Leszek Możdżer and Lars Danielsson for movie "Arne Treasure". In 2009 he is recording album called "Tribute to Seifert" with most influential violinists nowadays such as: Didier Lockwood, Pierre Blanchard, Jerry Goodman, Krzesimir Dębski or Christian Howes.
As a instrumentalist he cooperated and played with many great artists as: Jim Beard, John Benitez, Luluk Purwanto, Clarence Penn, Joe Sanders, Taylor Eigsti, Rene Van Helsdingen, Urszula Dudziak, Didier Labbe Quartet, Billy Cobham, Cezary Konrad, Nigel Kennedy, Grazyna Auguscik, Paulinho Garcia, Monty Waters, Dana Hawkins and many more.
His recent projects are with the award winning Royal Strings Quartet, pianist Taylor Eigsti , basist John Benitez &drummer Dana Hawkins, pianist Iiro Rantala and The Baltic Gang (Lars Danielsson, Jacob Karlzon, Morten Lund, Verneri Pohjola and Marius Neset).