Matthew Bourne Review in Jazzwise (Posted By Harry)

Matthew Bourne

Matthew BourneMatthew Bourne// Reviews + Updates

Matthew Bourne
Montauk Variations
The Leaf Label
Release Date: 06.02.11

Montauk Variations, a new solo piano/cello album by Matthew Bourne, former enfant terrible and chief inspiration of the most creative end of the new Leeds avant jazz and improv scene, is to be released by Leaf next month the label has confirmed.

 Composed and performed by Bourne playing original compositions and Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Smile’, the album follows in the lineage of his accomplished if controversial 2007 live album The Molde Concert recorded in Norway in 2005. Bourne says that the variations in the title don’t have a thread in terms of modes or keys, neither are they variations on another piece of music or abstraction. “’Montauk Variations’ is just a title that had a nice ring to it and relates to the geographical location, at the end of Long Island, NY. Montauk is a small fishing town. I went there for a few hours in August 2009.”

 The song titles of the album, including ‘Étude Psychotique’ which is exclusively available for Jazzwise readers on YouTube…

…are variations I-XVI which are ‘Air’, ‘The Mystic’, ‘Phantasie’, ‘Infinitude’, ‘Étude Psychotique’, ‘Within’, ‘One For You, Keith’, ‘Juliet’, ‘Senectitude’, ‘The Greenkeeper’, ‘Abrade’, ‘Here’, ‘Gone’, ‘Knell’, ‘Cuppa Tea’, ‘Unsung’ plus the well loved Chaplin tune ‘Smile’. Bourne says “the Keith” in VII ‘One For You Keith’ is not as some jazz fans might immediately think Keith Jarrett, but Keith Tippett, an early inspiration of Bourne’s and an abiding presence on the UK scene whose work is still vital for the new Brit-Jazz scene looking for sharp thinking role models. Bourne says despite the title that “The piece is not a challenge of any kind.”

 On the cover of The Montauk Variations there’s someone swimming in the sea with rocks in the background. Bourne says it’s a picture by Jon Stanley Austin from his photo library, the photographer who is responsible for the images on Bourne’s new website. “We chose the picture because we (myself, the sleeve designer Oli Bentley and The Leaf Label) liked it a lot.” The new album is notable for a lesser known facet of Bourne’s work, an instrument he returns to from time to time. Bourne says: “The cello is one of my private pleasures that has surfaced from time to time, especially in my work with Dan Berridge (aka Broadway Project) and various projects involving long-time musical collaborator/engineer and producer of Montauk Variations, Sam Hobbs. Dan and Sam are the only people I play/record in front of where the cello is concerned. I only ever wanted to learn the cello to play Bach’s cello suites on. Just for myself.”
– Stephen Graham

Other Reviews//

“The great thing about Matthew Bourne is that you never quite know what he’s going to do next, either in career terms or on the piece you’re listening to at the moment, and that, of course, means that you’ll always keep listening. It’s a great gift”  Brian Morton

“Bourne’s music goes beyond the boundaries of improvised music and is something that is rare and exceptional”  BBC Jazz Awards

“Astonishing… Bourne refuses to compromise his music”  Stuart Nicholson, Observer Music Monthly
“Bourne is an original thinker and has the virtuosity to carry out his bold moves with panache. A great champion of British Jazz, which he believes has been underrated, he is one of Britain’s new young jazz hopes”  Daily Mail

“Matthew Bourne has something in common with the American iconoclast John Zorn, particularly in confronting listeners with the raw essence of musics”  John Fordham, The Guardian

“Totally compelling… a bewildering odyssey of dizzying whirlpools of piano colours, strange rhapsodic reveries and samples that any self respecting surrealist would have been proud. There’s a kind of manic intensity and eccentricity to all this which makes it totally compelling”  Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise

“Maverick piano genius”  Mike Flynn, Time Out


Bourne will appear at the London Jazz Festival with The London Sinfonietta on Friday November 18. More info:
He is to visit China in March 2012 as part of a British Council sponsored event – watch this great introduction to his art here:


VIII. Juliet

IV. Infinitude

01.     I. Air (for Jonathan Flockton)
02.     II. The Mystic
03.     III. Phantasie
04.     IV. Infinitude
05.     V. Étude Psychotique (for John Zorn)
06.     VI. Within
07.     VII. One For You, Keith
08.    VIII. Juliet
09.     IX. Senectitude
10.     X. The Greenkeeper (for Neil Dyer)
11.    XI. Abrade
12.     XII. Here (in memory of Philip Butler-Francis)
13.     XIII. Gone (in memory of Philip Butler-Francis)
14.     XIV. Knell (in memory of Philip Butler-Francis)
15.     XV. Cuppa Tea (for Paul Bolderson)
16.     XVI. Unsung
17.    Smile [written by Charlie Chaplin]

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