About „Satie – A time Remembered”
On his second album as a leader, bassist Caspar van Meel gives us his personal interpretation of the music of impressionist composer Erik Satie. The album showcases an international sextet with three horns and a rhythm-section that play van Meel’s intricate, original arrangements with energy and intuitive interplay.
Van Meel focuses on the Gnossiennes – a series of works for piano written by Satie at the end of the 19th century. The melodies and harmonies in these works are deceptively simple and almost romantic, clinging to the classical tradition, yet already breaking free through the use of innovative scales. “Even though many jazz musicians were influenced by impressionist composers like Satie, the scales that Satie applied are still not commonly used“, Van Meel says. On this album van Meel makes Satie’s harmonic innovations explicit and introduces them into an improvised musical context.
The ensemble-playing and arrangements on this album are reminiscent of a small big-band while retaining the flexibility and interpretive freedom of a smaller group. The music flows organically as full blown horn parts, backgrounds and specials are alternated with intimate excursions in trio or extended passages for solo piano or bass.
Van Meel’s arrangements were both influenced by old masters like Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Gil Evans, and contemporaries such as Dave Holland and trumpet-player Avishai Cohen. The title of this project, “Time Remembered“, was derived from the famous composition by jazz piano player Bill Evans. It is a good example of the way that impressionist composers like Satie influenced jazz musicians. Van Meel deliberately chose to juxtapose his version of this piece with Satie’s music. Indeed, Evans’ use of constant minor structures and the slightly dark mood this provokes are quite similar to Satie’s harmonic progressions.
It was this mood especially that first spoke to Van Meel when he came in contact with Satie’s music in his early twenties. When Satie wrote his famous works for piano, Europe was going through a tumultuous period. The feeling of vast political, technological and social change must have been quite similar to the mood of the age we are currently living in. The Gnossienne seem to reflect this Zeitgeist – they breathe a heavy, melancholic vibe as if mourning the loss of a time to be remembered: “There are striking similarities between our age and the time in which Satie wrote these works, which to me makes this music as relevant as ever.“
All music arranged by Caspar van Meel. All tracks composed by Erik Satie except Track 3 Time Remembered by Bill Evans.
Ryan Carniaux – trumpet
Denis Gäbel – tenor saxophone
Raphael Klemm – trombone
Franz von Chossy – piano
Caspar van Meel – bass
Niklas Walter – drums