Friday, March 10, 2017

Matija Dedic - Dedicated (EARS & EYES RECORDS 2017)

Dedic’s piano jazz can be thought of somewhere between the styles of Robert Glasper and Brad Mehldau, with an overall sound historically reminiscent of Bill Evans.” - Dustin Garlitz, JazzTalent 

“...superb flow with dramatic moments that bracket lithe progressions. Sometimes it feels like a classic ECM piano trio recording and other times Chick Corea. Regardless of what it evokes, it’s clear that Dedic has chops.” - S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews

Dedicated features: 

Matija Dedic - piano/compositions 
Chris Cheek - tenor sax (Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, Brian Blade, Lee Konitz, Carla Bley, Tom Harrell, Brad Mehldau, Kurt Rosenwinkel) 
Noah Hoffeld - cello (Philip Glass, Bebel Gilberto, Brad Mehldau) 
Johannes Weidenmueller - acoustic bass (John Abercrombie, Joe Lovano, Brad Mehldau, John Scofield, Dewey Redman, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman) 

Bonus track, ‘Afmazur’, is: 
Jure Pukl - soprano saxophone (Maceo Parker, Esperanza Spalding, Vijay Iyer) 
Matt Brewer - acoustic bass (Greg Osby, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Lee Konitz, David Sanchez, Terence Blanchard, Vijay Iyer, Steve Coleman, Tain Watts) 
Johnathan Blake - drums (Tom Harrell, Kenny Barron, Avishai Cohen) 

Story: For many professional musicians, often a moment in time or an influential person that sets the path for one to take a leap into the long desire and urge to take their craft as serious as need to be to become that musician they so desire. For Croatian pianist Matija Dedic, that moment, that person was his father, Arsen Dedic. It was Arsen’s influence and encouragement that made Matija take that step and it was his gift of a recording of Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert that put Matija on the path to creative and jazz music. And so it makes perfect sense that after the passing of Arsen, Matija would set out to dedicate a very special set of tunes to the memory of his father. This album, Dedicated, is just that; a dedication to Matija’s father who had recently passed and in turn, inspired this collection of music to remember his father and the importance he played in his life, career, and motivation to be here now-in the now as displayed by his mastery of the piano and the music created in his body and soul.

Though, not necessarily a common jazz-household name in the United States, Matija Dedic has been a dominating figure in the jazz and popular music scene in Croatia and throughout Europe for over 20 years. He has shared the stage and/or recorded with an array of current trendsetters in the world of jazz and creative music including folks like John Hollenbeck, Buster Williams, Alvin Queen, and Martin Drew to name a few. On his last three trio records, he was supported by powerhouse rhythm sections of Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard, Kendrick Scott and Vicente Archer, and Scott Colley and Antonio Sanchez. A short list of engagements had him in Turkey, Spain, Austria, Sweden, England, Brasil, USA, and more. As a leader, he has released records on Blue Bamboo, Origin, Dallas and Workin’ labels. Most recently he was featured at the Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival where ears&eyes Records director Matthew Golombisky and Matija grabbed a couple cups of coffee and rapped the jazz scenes in Eastern Europe, Buenos Aires and various cities in the US while also getting really excited about this current release. 

Dedicated is both a play on Matija’s last name, Dedic, but more importantly that the album is dedicated to his father. Arsen Dedic played an incredibly important and crucial part of Matija’s pursuit in music, piano and jazz and who in his own right Arsen was an accomplished composer, songwriter and poet. 

Arsen’s fame spreads throughout Croatian culture as the creator of Croatian chanson transforming his words and music to use as subtle commentary about political turmoil. Included in this musical family and upbringing is Matija’s mother, singer Gabi Novak who was born in Berlin during World War II and thereafter moved to the island Hvar where Matija spent his childhood summers and composed much of this current album. (Tune ‘Return from the Island’ is a direct reference.) At the Bled Jazz Festival in 1958, Gabi sang a duet with Louis Armstrong. In her youth, she also sang with Phil Woods, Gary Burton, and Joe Turner. In 2003, she received a Porin (Croatia’s most prestigious music award) for “Best Female Vocal Performance” for her performance on the album "The Song is My Life" and in 2006, for “Special Contribution to Croatian Pop Music”. The Dedic family though, on a whole, is among some of the most winning artists since the Porin’s inception in 1993. Arsen received 15 in total including “Album of the Year” and “Best Pop & Classical Music” in 2005, “Best Pop Album” in 2009 and 1998, “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 1999. He also received Jacques Brel Award in France and the Premio Tenco Award in San Remi, Italy. Matija has received 25 Porins, so far, including last year’s “Album of the Year”. 

“I was [Arsen’s] personal pianist for 10 years and it was an unprecedented honor and level of happiness for me. Sharing the stage with such established legends and emerging artists is difficult to describe. But the honor came from being able to live, learn and experience this music with my father; my inspiration,” says Matija. 

Admittedly Matija’s ensemble of choice is the classic piano, bass, drums, but on Dedicated he explores more intimate textures. Other than the fierce track ‘Afmazur’ featuring Jure Pukl (s. sax), Matt Brewer (a.bass) and Johnathan Blake (drums), it’s a drummer-less album filled with soaring cello melodies. There are touches of both tenor and soprano saxes. ‘His Visit’ is a scaled down trio of piano, cello and bass and creates a mysterious pad of reflection. It’s definitely a “jazz record” with virtuosic solos with heads, piano intros, and complex harmony, but there’s a bigger sense of purpose and direction with this set of tunes. It’s decisive with a clear intention: the memory and thankfulness of a lost friend, mentor and father. 

‘His Visit’, which was the original album title documents a moment when Arsen’s health was on a brink of unknown and Matija was making decisions as to whether continue his busy schedule which included tour dates in Spain and Italy or to return home. It was a strange mixed-feeling of fear but also hope that Arsen’s health would turn for the better. 

Recorded in Astoria, New York’s famous Samurai Hotel Studio, it’s a clean, crisp sounding recording that allows the listener to feel like they were in the room during the recording sessions. Owner and recording engineer, David Stoller and his studio, are top-picks for many of the big-hitters of jazz including Nicholas Payton, Cyrus Chestnut, Steve Turre, Chris Potter, Cedar Walton and a lot more. 

Though ears&eyes Records has found itself releasing mostly Chicago-based artists and groups where we were birthed some ten years ago, we are incredibly excited to welcome Matija to a family that may be based in Chicago but includes all artists with a global presence and self-awareness of connectedness. Join us in welcoming Matija, along with Chris Cheek, Juke Pukl, Johnathan Blake, Noah Hoffeld, Joannes Weidenmueller and Matt Brewer on what will be a record of reflection, not only of Arsen Dedic, but of our own lives and those dear to us, near or far. Enjoy.

Recorded by David Stoller at Samurai Hotel Studio in Astoria Queens, NYC USA 
Mixed and mastered by Miro Vidovic at Morris Studio in Zagreb, Croatia 
Album artwork by Federico Maksimiuk 
Design layout by Matthew Golombisky