Jazz pianist Pete Malinverni and classical violinist Juliet Kurtzman

Candlelight – Love in the Time of Cholera

a recording for our times, redolent of the universal human desires for love, intimacy and deliverance from loneliness

Now Available via Saranac Records

During this unprecedented period of upheaval, classical violinist Juliet Kurtzman and jazz pianist Pete Malinverni, both world-class musicians, have come together to offer Candlelight – Love in the Time of Cholera to remind us that, as Malinverni says, “love and passion for life are two of the truly human things that can spark us to action and out of many, make us one.”

“What unites us is stronger than those things that divide us,” the pianist continues. “Art that emanates from – and is directed to – the heart has always been important. But now, as our world has come to a once-in-a-generation dual reckoning with mortality and injustice, the essential nature of art in service to human connection is ever more apparent.”

Candlelight – Love in the Time of Cholera is a singular recording, comprised of some of the disparate music that has grown out of the Americas. The album includes five gem-like piano pieces penned by the brilliant cornetist Bix Beiderbecke; a tango written by Argentinian master Astor Piazzolla; a poignant read of Scott Joplin’s “Solace”; and a deeply felt version of “Body and Soul,” which features Kurtzman’s interpretation of Coleman Hawkins’ iconic solo on that songbook standard. Also included are two charming tangos by Malinverni: “Pulcinella,” originally composed for a dance collaboration in Rome, Italy, and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” which Malinverni wrote after hearing a life-changing performance by Piazzolla. Kurtzman and Malinverni offer unique interpretations throughout. In fact, most of album’s 12 tracks have never before been recorded in the violin-piano format.

Juliet Kurtzman began studying at age seven with renowned violin teacher Fredell Lack. At 14, she debuted as a soloist with her hometown Houston Symphony Orchestra. Three years later, she continued her studies at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia (as one of only two violinists accepted internationally), before embarking on a career as a symphonic violinist in Europe. In a concert review, The London Independent praised Kurtzman for her “authentic performance, relishing the romantic warmth of Brahm’s melodies” while being “technically in control of his virtuoso demands.” In another review, The St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote of Kurtzman: “She played like an artist, with gorgeous phrasing and an ear for stylishness that neatly complemented her rich tone and awesome technical skills … an absolutely riveting display.”

Pete Malinverni grew up in Niagara Falls, New York. He studied classical piano and was later drawn to jazz. He has been called, “audacious and exquisite” and “dashing, but without ego” by Jim Macnie in the Village Voice, and “a pianist with a forthright and elegant style” by Nate Chinen in the New York Times.  In the Philadelphia Inquirer Karl Stark described Malinverni as “one wild cat … his playing can be dark, gritty and oddly rapturous … he digs into the piano and emerges with exotic treasure.”

Never content with just one way of expressing and evoking human feeling, Malinverni has bridged the worlds of classical and jazz on Candlelight, and once again discovered a new language in which to “tell tales short on embellishment and long on resonance,” as Paul DeBarros wrote in a four-star DownBeat review of an earlier Malinverni effort.

Having recorded in solo piano, trio, small and large group contexts, as well as with a gospel choir and jazz band for which he wrote and arranged the music, Malinverni may be working in a different setting on Candlelight, yet it’s one that finds the pianist exploring different modes of expression to say the same things that he’s always said – that love matters, that passion matters, and that music is the way in.

“It is the artist’s sacred duty to face and comment upon life’s joys and sorrows, illuminating them for others,” Malinverni says. “I hope this album is heard in the same spirit as, for instance, Gabriel García Márquez’s book Love in the Time of Cholera, from which this recording takes, in part, its title.”

Of his work with Kurtzman, Malinverni says, “As a jazz musician, I’ve always relied on experience and preparatory work to fan the animating spark of improvisation that comes in the moment of performance. Juliet, on the other hand, owing to her lifelong classical training which prizes consistency, meticulously prepares the performance itself – and hits notes in tune, phrasing beautifully, all the time. I’ve learned a lot from her methods, and I’ve shifted my practice approach to spending more time in that first, preparatory stage, finding my resulting performances to be, rather than predictable, even more liberated. And Juliet’s risen to the moment, too, finding pleasure in the unexpected, handling my constantly changing interpretations with virtuosic agility and tossing new ideas my way.

“Our collaboration, characterized by a breadth of emotional and musical expression, and fueled by the joy of making music together, has been a revelation for both of us.”

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