Geoff Eales writes:
I am thrilled to be launching my new solo piano album at The Forge in Camden on October 8th.
This was the venue where virtuoso flautist / ethnic instrumentalist Andy Findon launched The Dancing Flute last year, a duo CD with the two of us as equal soloists. Andy joins me once more, but this time he plays a more supportive role. I decided to break up the solo improvisations with a few flute/piano items here and there.
Invocation is subtitled “Twelve Improvisations for Solo Piano” and on the sleeve notes I write the following : “One of the biggest challenges facing an improvising musician is to deliver a performance that holds the attention of the listener when playing completely solo. To achieve success, one must dig deep into one’s musical psyche in order to invoke the muse within. The improvisations on the album are all unedited single-takes. I was helped enormously in my task by having such a wonderful instrument at my disposal. This, combined with the benevolent acoustic of Wyastone’s magnificent concert hall, ensured that I was given the very best chance to succeed”
The “unedited single-take” idea was deliberate. I wanted to document exactly what happened at a certain moment in time as opposed to spending time tweaking this and that in post-production. After all, in a concert situation there are no second takes or edits.
For me, Invocation seems to sum up what the album is all about. The spirits of Messiaen, Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky are invoked in some of the improvisations whilst other tracks would not have been possible without me absorbing the music of Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Egberto Gismonti, Cecil Taylor and so on. However, blindly copying others is a pointless exercise. The trick is to assimilate everything before transcending one’s influences. That is the aim at least. One must try and speak with one’s own unique voice. It is a huge ask but it is a challenge that every creative artist must ultimately face.
Some of the pieces on the album were created from a totally blank canvas. Here, you pray that inspiration will come and that you don’t fall flat on your face. However, it isn’t quite as daunting as a trapeze artist without a safety net as the consequences of failure in the case of the improviser are never actually life-threatening ; at other times I was armed with the briefest of sketches. This might be a simple melodic idea, a tiny rhythmic motif or riff, or perhaps a series of pre-chosen tonal areas. These raw materials formed the basis for spontaneous exploration, the full arc of the improvisation only revealed once the piece had ended.
Both approaches will be manifest at the concert, though on the flute/piano interludes it will be composition rather than improvisation that has the upper hand. But, even here, there will be moments where the two of us are unleashed from the constraints of the written music.
The performance will run without a break with an album signing in the bar afterwards.