The project was centred around three musicians and artists: shakuhachi player Marek Matvija, vocalist Annabelle Plum and world-wide renowned improviser Steve Cohn. Cohn is one of the leading improvisers on the piano and especially with the shakuhachi, where his work can be rightly considered pioneering.
Improvisation with unusual instruments and the combination of them has been the prime interest of Steve Cohn`s work for the past two decades. Coming from the jazz piano tradition Cohn has expanded his field of interest beyond keyboard instruments. He has been playing the Japanese flute shakuhachi, the trombone, percussion instruments, guitar, blues harp and trumpet for many years and has always enjoyed how new instruments enrich and expand his musical vocabulary.
Annabelle Plum and Marek Matvija, took up the opportunity of Steve Cohn coming to Prague for the International Shakuhachi Festival Prague 2016 and asked him to expand his stay in order to indulge in a month long exploration of quatertone music, for shakuhachi, voice and the qautertone piano, a unique instrument, which can be found at HAMU.
Their intention was to rehearse and record an album of improvised music, combining the piano with extended vocal technique and improvisation on the shakuhachi. For this they have first rehearsed with the piano getting a thorough understanding and feeling for quatertone possibilities. They than prepared a number of pieces, that are set in structure or motivation, but are improvised in it`s details. They have recorded these pieces in a three day recording session and hope to release the album by the end of the year 2016.
Beyond this collaboration Cohn lead a workshop on improvisation on the shakuhachi and other instruments during the International Shakuhachi Festival Prague 2016. Further more the trio gave three concerts. The first during the FX Šalda award, a prestigious award giving to art critics, that was held at the Kampa Museum in Prague. A second concert, of Steve Cohn improvising on a classical piano, took place at Cafe Neustadt. Improvisaror George Cremaschi was invited to join and Annabelle Plum as well as Marek Matvija also joined in for a few pieces.
A third concert took place after the three day recording session, at the Respirium at HAMU on Thursday 14th of July. This concert included the quatertone piano, and featured the improvised pieces the trio had prepared for the recording. It was attended by about 40 audience members.
This project is supported by the Dance and Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (HAMU) and Agosto Foundation.