Dan Tepfer Harlem in the Himalayas
Dan Tepfer - solo piano
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Dan Tepfer makes his Rubin Museum debut to mark the New York release of his solo album Goldberg Variations / Variations (Sunnyside Records). The jazz pianist is approaching J.S. Bach's masterpiece - one of the classical canon's most totemic works - as an inspiring font for creativity. Interspersed with his faithful and affectionate interpretation of the "Goldbergs" are his own improvised variations on Bach's variations. Tepfer's variations are marked by a ruminative joy, spiced with contemporary dissonances and a deep feel for the source as timeless music beyond category.
Goldberg Variations / Variations is the 29-year-old, New York-based Tepfer's sixth album as leader or co-leader, following three heading a trio, one of solo piano improvisations, and another featuring duets with veteran saxophone luminary Lee Konitz. Known for his rare improvisational gift and a complex yet melodic approach to music-making, the prize-winning pianist has been hailed as "a player of exceptional poise" by The New York Times, while Downbeat extolled his "ability to disappear into the music as he's making it."
The critics on Goldberg Variations/Variations:
"On his new CD, "Goldberg Variations/Variations," Mr. Tepfer not only enters what to many pianists is hallowed ground-he leaves his self-assured footprints all over. His jazz roots show through in the crisp articulation and rhythmic clarity of his counterpoint, in his glass-sharp attack and, above all, in his supple approach to time... He builds a bridge across centuries and genres to spark a dialogue with Johann Sebastian Bach."
-Corinna Da Fonseca-Wollheim, Wall Street Journal
"One of the more audacious, accomplished recordings of 2011."
- Ted Panken, Downbeat
"Fantastic... An ingenious, thoroughly modern adaptation... I've spent weeks going back to this album, and it's provided renewable pleasures and fresh discoveries each time."
-Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
"A fascinating and engrossing listen... [Tepfer] meets exhilaration with exhilaration... A huge and unique success."
- Peter Hum, Ottawa Citizen
"On his latest album, the 29-year-old pianist not only had the audacity to play Bach's Goldberg Variations-he improvised on them. The results are elegant, thoughtful, and thrilling."
- New York Magazine Critic's Pick
"The album presents Bach's "Goldberg" Variations in sequence, played with classical fidelity; but after each variation comes an improvised response. At times Mr. Tepfer recasts the harmony, tending to mood and hue; elsewhere he goes in for faintly comic departures, making a sport of transposition. It's an impressive feat, an act of scholarly mischief that keeps coming back to a hearty and abiding respect."
- Nate Chinen, the New York Times
"Utterly exhilarating, impossible to praise too highly, this is something few would dare and even fewer would accomplish. Tepfer's Goldberg Variations/Variations belongs in every Bach and jazz lovers library. And that of every music lover."
- George Grella, the Big City Blog
About the Artist
Born to American parents in Paris, France in 1982, Dan began classical piano studies at age six at the Paris Conservatoire Paul Dukas. He took a somewhat circuitous route to a jazz career, earning a bachelors degree in astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. But beginning even as a toddler, Dan explored improvisation on his own. He played extensively on the jazz scene in college and enjoyed a brief stint as an opera conductor. After graduating in 2005 from Boston’s New England Conservatory, where he completed his masters under the guidance of Danilo Perez, Dan moved to New York and quickly became an in-demand player and composer.
Dan's numerous awards include first prize and audience prize at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition, first prize at the 2006 East Coast Jazz Festival Competition, and first prize at the 2007 competition of the American Pianists Association.
Dan has also been named a Cultural Envoy of the U.S. State Department, with recent travels to Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Czech Republic. He has lectured and led master classes at the Royal Academy of Music (London), the Seoul Institute of the Arts (South Korea), the Chopin Conservatory (Warsaw) and many more. He was recently commissioned by the Prague Castle Guard Orchestra to compose a concerto for wind symphony and improvising piano. Titled The View from Orohena, the work premiered in the Prague Castle on May 4, 2010.
In summer 2011, Dan will release a solo album on Sunnyside/Naïve entitled Goldberg Variations/Variations. In this new work, he performs Bach's original variations as written while adding his own improvised variations in between each, thus generating a dialogue with the old master. A contemporary commentary on a revered masterpiece, the project affirms the timelessness and continuity of musical expression.
In addition to working with his new trio, Dan continues to focus on full solo piano concerts of freely improvised music. As France's Jazz Magazine has noted, he is "gifted with a heightened sense for form and an extraordinary confidence in his angles of attack." His playing, whatever the context, is a model of fluidity and steady, effortless motion, immersed in jazz history but creating new history in turn.