Pianist Sullivan Fortner Releases New Double-Album “Solo Game” | LISTEN!

Pianist Sullivan Fortner Releases
the Double-Album Solo Game

“Solo” Mixes Humility, Maturity and Audacity in Respecting the Great Tradition of the Solo Piano While “Game” Develops a Magical, Playful Universe From a Multitude of Keyboards and Electronic Effects

Solo Game, the first solo recording from the pianist, composer and bandleader Sullivan Fortner, and his label debut on Artwork Records, is a work in two parts.

For the first section, “Solo” — Fortner called upon one of his mentors, Fred Hersch, to help him produce a solo piano program. Hersch asked Fortner to draw up a list of his favorite pieces, from the Great American Songbook and beyond, from which Hersch made choices over the course of four recording sessions, with no rehearsal or second takes allowed. Out of 24 selections, Fortner selected nine for this album.

Fortner moves with consummate skill between classic standards (“I didn’t Know What Time it Was” by Rodgers & Hart; Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday;” “This is Now” from Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin) to less well known jazz compositions (among them Randy Weston’s “Congolese Children”) and works by Stevie Wonder (“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”) and Antônio Carlos Jobim (“Once I Loved”), taking each into unexpected territory. His harmonic sense is sophisticated, his polyrhythmic concepts bold, his sound crystalline, and he makes of these performances something highly personal yet rooted in tradition, at once respectful and progressive.

In the album’s playful second set, “Game,” Fortner moves into more experimental, hard to classify territory, employing a range of instruments and effects — Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, Moog, vocoder, celesta, chimes, drums, an immense variety of percussion (and a piano as well). As Jason Moran describes it on an included commentary track, “Songs in Sullivan’s hands become flexible. He’s well know to fathom new possibilities with grace and elegance that nearly every pianist I know champions and is jealous of. His game play is multilingual. His hands simply morph sounds. The piano is often the starting place for these pieces but by the end the piano becomes a ghost.”

These shimmering soundscapes feel as spontaneous as they are admirably constructed. Some are composed (“It’s a Game,” “Snakes and Ladders,” “Cross and Circles” and “The Minute Waltz” borrowed from Frédéric Chopin), others improvised on the piano then “orchestrated” by means of electronics – effects from Pro Tools, Melodyne and Auto-Tune were added afterward. On “Power Mode,” “Hounds and Jackals” and “Stag,” Sullivan calls on all the resources of the studio, returning with impish virtuosity to the “game” that lies at the origin of all artistic vocations. With this exuberant, totally free work, Sullivan Fortner, the pianist and composer reminds us that testing one’s limits, experimenting, improvising, and daring without self-censorship will always be the principal virtues of any creator worthy of the name.

Sullivan Fortner · Solo Game
Artwork Records · Release Date: November 17, 2023

Also recently released on Artwork Records:
Micah Thomas · Reveal
Release Date: September 8, 2023

For more information on Sullivan Fortner, please visit:
www.sullivanfortnermusic.com | Facebook

DL Media

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