|Luminance is pianist Marilyn Lerner’s solo debut on Ambiances Magnétiques. Recorded at Avatar in Quebec City, the work is a collection of improvisations that reveal the depth and breadth of Marilyn’s creative mind - a distillation of her influences from the jazz and classical worlds, along with a twist!Luminance has an extra dimension. A project borne out of the challenges and frustrations involved in miking and recording the acoustic piano, Marilyn decided to be creative with this problem, making it a strong feature of the work. By setting up different microphones in various configurations, and using the quality of sound as a springboard for her improvisations, Marilyn, an avid film enthusiast, has in effect, created a series of musical “scenes” each with different sonic lighting. In collaboration with the brilliant artist/sound engineer Steeve Lebrasseur, she has gone into the audio darkroom to sculpt and highlight, magnify, distort or just plain bring out the inherent sound qualities of this bourgeois parlour instrument, the piano. Microphones used in this work range from Neumanns to an RCA mike from the fifties to a 4" speaker. Comprised of 16 tracks, the work ranges from pieces like Wolfen and Rife, (explorations of more classical and jazz-derived musical ideas and harmonic possibilities) to Codec Moment, which utilizes the pin-sized microphone on the Casio Palm Pilot and thereby distorts the sound to imitate an old man yodelling! In Plucky Marilyn plays pizzicato. Attends features the harmonic series found at various points along the low strings. With latex gloves on, Marilyn strokes the strings in Eerie and also in the rock-influenced piece Glovys. In Road Tango she uses the pedals to enhance the musical landscape. Marilyn’s approach to the piano is defined by her love of the qualities of sustain and resonance, of space as well as density. She moves effortlessly between the simple and complex to create a work of breadth, depth and imagination.
by D M
in Vital #418 (The Netherlands), April 6, 2004
Marilyn Lerner (Montréal, 1957) is pianist and composer and has been active in the Canadian scene for the past twenty years. She has performed with a very mixed company of musicians, like Paquito D’Riverera, Tito Puente, Jon Faddis, Steve Lacy, Christian Escoude, Jane Bunnett, Vinny Golia, etc. Her jazz work includes the solo cd Miss Overboard and Birds are Returning - Marilyn Lerner in Cuba. Also she produced a series of audio art pieces using computer technology. For the last few years she formed a duo with bass clarinet player Lori Freedman, named Queen Mab. Together they try to build bridges between new music and jazz. The last ten years she made a lot of recordings and wrote music for film, television, theatre, etc. All this does not have to imply that you ever heard of her before. In my case Luminance is a first encounter. What may not surprise us of someone with such a reputation and experience, is the virtuosic playing that illustrates her extensive knowledge of grammar and repertoire. She is also a very capable and original composer and improvisor. What is more, her music has also depth and is passionate. A great variety of techniques, idioms, color, moods, etc. pass by. In each track she investigates different aspects of music. In many pieces she is into timbral possibilities. In other pieces melodic and harmonic ideas are investigated. In La boxe, Glovys and other pieces rhythmic excursions are dominant. Besides, in one piece, like Plucky, she uses many extented techniques, making the piano sound like the prepared piano of John Cage. Whereas in other pieces she limits herself to the keys of the piano. If the idea of a solo piano cd is frightening you, let me assure you that you won’t be bored by this one. It’s a very personal work on the borders of new music and jazz by a talented player and improvisor. By the way, an interesting aspect of this release is the recording technique. For each track is indicated what microphone is used and where it is placed.