Album: ‘Vein Plays Ravel’
Vein feat Andy Sheppard
Release Date: 8 September 2017
Label: Double Moon/Challenge Recordings Int
“depth of thought so compelling… extraordinarily imaginative… an absolute tour de force…what a triumph!” (AP Reviews)
“ sophisticated, classically inspired but viscerally powerful …. … Vein go from strength to strength.” The Guardian
Since their first UK release just three years ago, Swiss trio Vein have cemented their reputation as an exciting, hugely talented trio who play with passion, drive , finesse and as masters of musical interplay. We have seen twins, drummer, Florian Arbenz and pianist Michael Arbenz with bassist Thomas Lähns release three albums here and perform a raft of shows in a number of settings – as a consummate trio and with special edition quartets featuring great American saxophonists Greg Osby and Dave Liebman.
Earlier this year Vein returned to their roots and released The Chamber Music Effect, a collection of self-penned compositions that explored ideas around their major influence; classical music. They now return resolutely pursuing the same path with a new recording on a new label (the Dutch Challenge Records), to present VEIN plays RAVEL, a collection of compositions by 20th Century French composer, pianist and conductor, Maurice Ravel.
Ravel is an obvious choice for Vein. One of the most enigmatic figures of classical music, Ravel’s compositions share common ground with Vein’s musical soundscape. Ravel lived in an era during which tradition transitioned into abstract modernity, just as Vein breaks new ground without rejecting the traditional values of jazz. Likewise, Ravel encompassed many styles of music into his compositions including baroque, Spanish music and jazz. VEIN’s influences are similarly multifaceted.
VEIN plays RAVEL sees the trio carefully select eight pieces by Ravel that encompass his various stylistic modes. Using them as a template and translating them into a VEIN-esque musical language, Vein repeats Ravel’s approach some 100 years later.
The collection includes three pieces from Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin suite alongside Mouvement de Menuet (from Sonatine) all of which see Ravel refer to baroque music. Ravel’s Blues (from his Violin Sonata) and the 5 o’clock Foxtrot (from the opera “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges) were influence by his love of jazz and the salon music of the time. So, just as Ravel embraced different styles into his musical world, VEIN draws its inspiration from Ravel, adds new elements, grooves and improvisations to create a sound that is unmistakeably Vein, yet one that resonates with Ravel’s spirit. At the heart of VEIN plays RAVEL is Bolero – one of the 20th century’s most iconic pieces of music. Here the trio is joined by a horn section with special guest soloist, the British sax heavyweight and one of the greats of European jazz, Andy Sheppard (who also guests on Mouvement de Menuet). Playful (as was Ravel) the piece twists and turns, dips and dives both mournful and swinging, reflective and joyful, the stunning 16 minute piece underscores this magnificent and uncompromising musical work.
“It was great to find myself deep in the Vein world participating in their wonderful reimagining of Maurice Ravel – the band has real momentum, direction and passion for the music. Onwards and upwards , Maurice lives !“ Andy Sheppard