In this age of information overload and instant access, of streaming and downloads, how does one best present one’s music? Some go along with the whole digital thing, making their music available unadorned and miraculously appearing, apparently body-less, floating there in the ether between tablet, smartphone and all around the house courtesy of the cloud, after just one quick click on that downward arrow. And that is just fine. I suppose…
Others – like Danish saxophonist Christian Vuust – look for ways to work in the modern environment while hanging on to – or maybe that should be rediscovering – aspects of art and creation that can get lost in all the hi-tech bustle of the 21st century.
Storytelling is a CD of music played by Vuust on tenor and American pianist Aaron Parks. But it’s also a book. It’s a collection of songs dear to Vuust’s heart, but also prime examples of what he values in his music and that of others: it’s there in the title.
The stories Vuust and Parks tell may be wordless, but the words are there in the book, in English and, where appropriate, in Danish, along with a short essay and a poem by Danish poet and jazz lover Peter Laugesen. The typography is elegant, the photographs and graphics just right.
Vuust opens his introduction to the book with a quote from Lester Young to some younger, fast players – “Your technically hip. But what is your story?” – and on the CD he and Parks tell 11 stories, six of them Danish, four American and one Cuban. They range from folksongs to political ones with hidden messages, from re-interpretations of songs sung by Billie Holiday to a classic Gershwin tune.
Vuust has a classic, full tenor tone and a subtlety of phrasing and shaping a note that gets as close as an instrumentalist can to having a real, lyric-interpreting voice. Parks, as we know, is a complete pianist with as fine a talent for accompanying as stretching out solo. The pair suit each other nicely and the recording sound is close and intimate, letting the breath of the saxophone and the woody resonance of the piano right into the listener’s room.
This would be a lovely CD if it had come in a standard clear plastic jewel case. What Vuust has done by setting it in the cover of a small book and including the words, poem, graphics, etc, is to slow us all down and give us some added context, as well as a suggested way into listening to the music. He has shown how much he cares about this music not only about playing it as well as he can but also in the way he presents it to his listeners. He has helped us concentrate on the essential truths, the vital beauties, that are contained in these songs and in his and Parks’ playing of them.
- Find out more and buy your copy of Storytelling here.