|This is an outstanding solo piano offering by the extraordinary Peter Madsen, longtime cohort of Mario Pavone. Each of the ten pieces here was written by another master pianist from long history of modern jazz including Sun Ra, (the legendary) Hasaan Ibn Ali, Cecil Taylor, Randy Weston, Lennie Tristano, Mal Waldron, Andrew Hill, Muhal Richard Abrams, Herbie Nichols, and Dick Twardzik. The only one missing is Thelonius Monk one would think, however for Madsen's first solo disc, that's just who he covered. A literal who's who of modern jazz piano, each pianist quite distinctive, as is Peter's approach to each piece. Mal Waldron's "Boo" is a most impressive opening piece, stark and dark and filled with well-placed eruptions. I love that see-sawing undertow of Andrew Hill's "Subterfuge", the left hand providing the slow waves as the right hand weaves those majestic chords hypnotically. Few folks know of the Legendary Hasaan (Ibn Ali), who made one amazing record with Max Roach in the mid-sixties and then disappeared. Hasaan's "Three-Four Vs. Six-Eight Four-Four Ways" is an odd piece that shifts between varied sections in an unpredictable ways, drawn from older and newer styles, from Monk to somewhere out-there. Muhal's "The Bird Song" deals mostly with sounds plucked from inside the piano, spacious and mysterious. I love the way Peter takes Herbie Nichols' "The Third World" and expands it and turns it inside-out with different flourishes. It is rare to hear someone cover a song by Cecil Taylor, one of the most unique and idiosyncratic of all pianists. Madsen takes Cecil's "Rick Kick Shaw" and opens up to a less dense, less dark reading, while still allowing it to be quite intense and almost as explosive. The quietly mesmerizing "A Portrait of the Living Sky" by Sun Ra is an exquisite, contemplative work with somber waves washing over us. Randy Weston's "Blues for Africa" deconstructs the blues and presents the fragments in earthly fashion. Dick Twardzik was a great yet little known pianist from the bebop era who died very young and had just a handful of records. Peter plays Twardzik's obscure "The Girl from Greenland" and swirls lines of notes around the sad and lovely melody. The most influential pianist to emerge and merge the cool and bebop scenes was Lennie Tristano. Madsen erupts on Tristano and Billy Bauer's "Leave Me", with more of those amazing two-handed excursions. This is simply a brilliant overview of modern jazz piano reaching back over the last half century.
New York Times - 4/2/06:
Even as late as 15 years ago, listeners had to individually grope their way toward the more slender, ingrown traditions in jazz since the 1940's, piecing knowledge together from unreliable sources and looking for out-of-print LP's. That age is over, partly because of jazz CD reissues but also because of the Internet, where you can find not only a reliable Charlie Parker discography but also a 45,000-word interview with Anthony Braxton. But here's a much better effect of the information revolution: "Prevue of Tomorrow" (Playscape), an extremely well-played jazz-repertory record of solo piano by Peter Madsen, entirely representative of those who never quite fit in. Here is Andrew Hill's "Subterfuge," Randy Weston's "Blues for Africa," Cecil Taylor's "Rick Kick Shaw," Dick Twardzik's "Girl From Greenland" and Herbie Nichols's "Third World," as well as the brass ring, Hasaan Ibn Ali's "Three-Four vs. Six-Eight Four-Four Ways." Mr. Madsen makes these pieces and others cohere as a solid program, a tradition of outside-jazz thinking unified by unusual structure, meters and harmonic motion.
It's the most conscientious job I've ever seen of a jazz musician building an alternative canon in just one record.