- 01 – Mythos
- 02 – Garden of Delights
- 03 – Ethos
- 04 – Querendo Dancar
- 05 – Dianoia
- 06 – Body and Soul
- 07 – Lexis
- 08 – Folk Song Clowns and Litany
- 09 – Opsis
- 10 – The Long Line
- 11 – Melos (take 1)
- 12 – Melos (take 2)
The Long Line
Massimiliano Coclite & Stefano Travaglini
Garden of Delights was inspired by one of the Four Temperaments (Sanguinisch) by Hindemith; Querendo dançar takes inspiration from a Giga by John Bull from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book; and Folk song, Clowns and Litany is a piano transposition of the compositional ideas found in Stravinsky’s Trois pièces pour quatuor à cordes. The Long Line is an original composition, its title deriving from a quote by Copland, who was in turn influenced by the compositional message of his teacher Nadia Boulanger (in La Grande Ligne): “Music must always flow, for that is part of its very essence, but the creation of that continuity and flow – that long line – constitutes the be-all and end-all of every composer’s existence”.
The remaining songs are free improvisations, each based on a musical gesture, in which the two performers end up alternating hands and even, in Opsis, playing directly on the piano strings. There is also a crepuscular arrangement of Body and Soul, a jazz standard which acknowledges the duo’s love of African-American music.
“The Long Line shows the resourcefulness of two inventive artists, who, rather than being confined by genre, constantly reshape their music.”
All About Jazz - Karl Ackermann / 13 June 2019
“Italian pianists Stefano Travaglini and Massimiliano Coclite team up for a varied session of original improvisations and those influenced by composers of historical consequence. Both artists are coming from inspiring releases, Travaglini with his solo album Ellipse (Notami Jazz, 2017) and Coclite with his namesake quartet on Strange People (Odradek Records, 2018). These two musicians have demonstrated a gift for injecting expressive personality and control into real-time improvisations, which they refer to as "instant compositions."
Travaglini studied with Arvo Part and jazz and classical composer Vince Mendoza. A multi-instrumentalist who has also performed on oboe and bass, Travaglini has toured four continents playing an array of music including jazz, classical and gypsy folksongs. A graduate of the Conservatoires of Teramo and Bari, Coclite is a long-time member of the wind quintet D'Annunzio, and has played with symphony orchestras in several European cities. He has recorded four albums as a leader or co-leader, and is a jazz instructor at two Italian conservatories.
The album title—and corresponding track—are not inspired by the music but by a quote from composer Aaron Copland, who wrote referring to the continuity of composing. There is a feeling of interconnection and structure in these pieces though most are improvised in real time. Lyricism and classical foundations mesh with jazz improvisations and subtle eccentricities, creating a genre-less program which keeps one slightly off-guard. Those personality traits work to make yet another of the countless covers of "Body and Soul" feel somewhat refreshed. The inspiration for "Garden of Delights" is the 1920s German composer Paul Hindemith, while "Querendo Dançar" reaches back to the seventeenth-century keyboardist/composer John Bull.
The Long Line shows the resourcefulness of two inventive artists, who, rather than being confined by genre, constantly reshape their music. Shadings only paraphrase styles, never becoming married to them. Throughout the eleven tracks (twelve, with two versions of "Melos") the two pianists suggest their combined influences, and then push them outward, loosely codified, sophisticated, and still free enough to be fun.
“… splendid improvisation… quite magnificent.”
Kudojazz Blog / 21 June 2019
“There is a new album today, so let's take a look at it first. Two pianists from Italy, Stefano Travaglini and Massimiliano Coclite play music that is not a swinging jazz, but rather an improvisatory sound which is closer to classical and contemporary music. A lot of recent jazz in Europe prefers such trends, and I like it too. I totally got myself absorbed in listening to the entire recording for the full length of 63 minutes. Since the direction in which the two pianists aim is similar, I really enjoyed the assimilation of the two and the sound coming out as a block, rather than listening to the individual characteristics. Although composition certainly underlies to some extent, I’m pretty impressed with the performance they create through their splendid improvisation.
Only the 6th song is standard, the others are the composition / improvisation of the two pianists. The beginning has a contemporary music atmosphere. There are some compositional parts, yet the clicking of the pair’s assimilating improvisation sounds quite magnificent. The two are resolving in the same direction expressing each characteristic. When I listen to this type of music without swings, whether it's lively or quiet, it always gives me Europian and Italian jazz feelings. Among them, many of the songs here are rather solid show cases like the track 8 to 12, however the album is full of variety, such as the 3rd song that quietly ripples with gentle waves, and the 8th song that follows the flow of the voices. The standard 6th song is a warm ballad remaining in the same key.”
“… superb collaboration… remarkable synergy… startlingly original…”
Textura / July 2019
“Italian pianists Stefano Travaglini and Massimiliano Coclite favour the term ‘instant composition' over improvisation to describe what they're doing on this superb collaboration: in their eyes, the latter signifies an approach fully liberated from conventions of harmony, rhythm, and form, whereas the former involves using a ‘score' as a guide, one that outlines a direction and even perhaps goal and that's delineated by notes, words, or diagrams. Stated otherwise, the twelve tracks on The Long Line aren't improvisations in the pure sense, though it's fundamentally present in how the two bring the pieces into physical form. Some of them, in fact, draw for inspiration from classical composers, specifically Hindemith, Copland, Stravinsky, and the English Tudor composer John Bull, a move that also focuses attention on the blurring of the lines between classical and jazz forms. Even in the album's six free improvisations, direction of a kind has been adopted, namely from Aristotle and his enumeration of drama-related elements: Mythos (plot), Ethos (character), Dianoia (theme or reasoning), Lexis (diction/speech), Melos (music) and Opsis (spectacle).
Travaglini, who's toured with his own Quintet and DayDream Trio outfits, has released two solo albums, the 2017 solo piano album Ellipse (Notami Jazz) and 2013's The Hungarian Songbook. Coclite, a graduate of the Conservatoires of Teramo and Bari, is a long-time member of the wind quintet D'Annunzio and is a jazz instructor at the Alfredo Casella Music Conservatory in L'Aquila and the Nino Rota Music Conservatory in Monopoli. However different their backgrounds are, the two demonstrate a remarkable synergy on the recording. Close listening of the most attentive kind is required in an undertaking such as this one where the potential for getting tangled up in each other's playing is omnipresent; Travaglini and Coclite are careful to ensure their playing's marked by clarity above all else and that the album's ‘instant compositions' don't turn into mere displays of virtuosity. However important each pianist is to the hour-long outcome, The Long Line can only succeed when the two put the collective entity before the individual.
In “Mythos,” dancing, single-note figures intertwine with a methodical, Bach-like elegance and architectural logic, and don't be surprised if you're reminded of Lennie Tristano's own multi-tracked solo piano performances during “Dianoia,” which exudes a similar kind of mathematical logic. Inspired by one of Hindemith's Four Temperaments (Sanguinisch), “Garden of Delights” sees the duo interlocking with preternatural precision, the lines clustering into threads that gather into unison chords and then separate into divergent yet complementary patterns.
“Querendo dançar,” which draws for inspiration from a Giga by John Bull from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, finds the duo dissolving the gap between the late-sixteenth century and today with a bluesy, almost stride-like exercise; the connection between Travaglini and Coclite is especially pronounced in the performance, never more so than during the closing minute when the diverse strands come together in a delicately rendered resolution. Inspired by Stravinsky's Trois pièces pour quatuor à cordes, “Folk song, Clowns and Litany” wends adventurously through its eleven minutes, beginning impishly and then detouring abruptly into spikier territory before settling into a reverie that alternates between plaintive and majestic.
Its title taken from a quote Aaron Copland included in his What to Listen for in Music (“Music must always flow, for that is part of its very essence, but the creation of that continuity and flow – that long line – constitutes the be-all and end-all of every composer's existence”), the animated title track flows with a breezy elegance characteristic of French impressionist music. Elsewhere, a pronounced blues-jazz sensibility drives the roller-coaster swing of “Lexis,” while “Opsis” distinguishes itself by being played entirely on the piano strings, resulting in a shimmering mass that in places sounds as if a dulcimer's being sourced.
Similar to Ellipse's standout “Monk's Mood / Presences,” wherein fragments of Monk's composition elliptically emerge, The album's most memorable track is the cover of Johnny Green's 1930 classic “Body and Soul,” in large part because its familiarity allows the listener to gauge more consciously the ways by which the pianists put their stamp on the tune, which they do by underlaying its famous melody with unusual harmonies, the result a startlingly original reimagining. By underpinning the tune's well-known theme with darker sonorities, the pianists create an effect a little bit like two planets colliding.
Throughout the recording, the pianists' expressions are emphatically made though not at the expense of control, and the ruminations, however rooted in a classical template they might be, exemplify the explorative quality of improvised jazz; structural coherence is definitely present, yet free-flow, too. It's worth noting that before the nineteenth century, the distinction between composition and improvisation was less prevalent than it is today, with pianists and violinists routinely including cadenzas and improvised solo passages in performances of composers' works. With The Long Line, Travaglini and Coclite thus offer something of a portal to an earlier time when the co-presence of composition and improvisation in a piece wasn't unusual.”