"....a multimedia piece of contemporary art so well made in its process and components and expressed by such a thoughtful, talented, evocative pianist as Tepfer that Natural Machines as a whole is a complete experience". Nextbop.com
"This is NOT your grandpa's jazz piano album." Ted Gioia
In an exceptional melding of man and machine, Dan Tepfer uses the Yamaha Disklavier piano to bring together his world-class pianism with his background in physics and programming. As he improvises, the piano responds in real time with notes of its own, the keys of the keyboard depressing themselves as if by magic, guided by algorithms that he has programmed into his computer. Different pieces arise not from different choices of notes, but from different processes which naturally leave their own distinct sonic signature on the music. As the music is being created, another set of custom-made programs turns the data into animated visual art, graphically revealing the underlying structure of the music.
"I think of the best music as a delicate combination of the spiritual and the algorithmic", says Tepfer. “If you look at Bach’s music, a lifelong inspiration for me, it's at once heavily rule-based and guided by raw emotional truth”. With this project, the computer takes care of the algorithmic side, leaving the Paris-born, Brooklyn-based pianist-composer all the more free to focus on the human element. Although the only sound we hear is the sound of an acoustic concert-grand piano, "it's like playing a fundamentally new instrument", says Tepfer, whose previous solo exploration, Goldberg Variations / Variations, has received wide international acclaim.
In Natural Machines, Dan Tepfer has given each of the eleven pieces, from Canon At The Octave / All The Things You Are to the closing Fractal Tree, a distinct musical and visual world. At the LPR launch on October 30th 2018, for the very first time, audience members received Google Cardboard viewers, enabling them to experience the graphical environment of the music in immersive virtual reality.
"What I'd love for you to do is to think of this in the same way that you might think of a series on Netflix or Amazon — something to either binge-watch (it's about an hour long, and works well as a continuous, sit-down experience), or consume in bite-sized episodes. With Natural Machines, I'm experimenting both with a new way of making music, and a new way of putting it out. Whatever way you see it, I'd love to hear how it hits you."
NPR Jazz Night in America: mini documentary
Natural Machines is touring in 19/20 as a 60 minute show with video.
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