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Jean-Michel Pilc: What Is This Thing Called?

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In the vast archives of solo jazz piano recordings, this one has few precedents. Its 68 minutes contain 31 tracks, many under a minute, most under two. With one exception, all are completely improvised.

The album is a challenging listening experience. By the time you lock onto a tune, it is gone. Jean-Michel Pilc’s creative process is musical stream-of-consciousness but not random. There is a unifying thread. The exception mentioned above is Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?” It has been a favorite of jazz pianists from James P. Johnson to Gerald Clayton. Pilc gives it a moody, fragmented 80-second specific acknowledgement. The other improvised tracks are loosely (sometimes very loosely) based on this song.

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