Romanian Fantasy is a stunningly beautiful collection of eleven solo piano improvisations on Eastern European traditional Jewish melodies, interpreted and retold, by internationally acclaimed pianist Marilyn Lerner.
Lerner, jazz pianist and improviser with a virtuosic classical technique, displays an achingly intimate, bold, and personal take on the music of her culture.
Exhilarating jazz pianist/improviser Marilyn Lerner performs to acclaim internationally, from her native Montreal to Havana, from Jerusalem to Amsterdam and the Ukraine. Her groundbreaking recordings have garnered recognition, including “Best Western Canadian Jazz Recording 2004” for her “Special Angel” duo with legendary guitarist Sonny Greenwich, and she
produced the first contemporary Canadian jazz recording in Cuba (Birds Are Returning), playing her own compositions with greats Dafnis Prieto, Yosvanny Terry, and Jane Bunnett (on the Jazz Focus label). Lerner’s work spans the worlds of jazz, creative improvisation, klezmer, and 20th century classical music. She composes for film, theatre, radio and television.
Along with her innovative solo piano work, she tours with the Queen Mab Trio (with Lori Freedman and Ig Henneman), with whom she performed over 50 concerts in Canada, the U.S. and Europe in 2005 and 2006. She performs with Sonny Greenwich, the Mad Satie Trio, Adrienne Cooper, Mikveh, From Both Ends of the Earth, Lou Grassi and Ken Filiano, Adrienne Cooper, Alicia Svigals and David Wall, and has appeared with Tito Puente, Gerry Hemingway, and Steve Lacy.
A prolific recording artist, her latest recording is Romanian Fantasy, a series of solo improvisations on Eastrn European Jewish melodies. Earlier work includes Luminance (Ambiences Magnetiques), solo improvised piano music, Special Angel (C.B.C. records), a duo with jazz guitar legend Sonny Greenwich, and, with singer David Wall, Still Soft Voiced Heart (Traditional Crossroads), original settings of contemporary Yiddish poetry. Her original music has garnered the Montreal International Jazz Festival award for best composition. Her audio art collages have been broadcast nationally and appeared on the Video Pool compilation “Beyond the Sound of Music.”
Lerner conducts workshops on improvisation and on Jewish music throughout North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union. Current projects include a jazz/classical crossover project creating improvisations on the work of Eric Satie, a song cycle to the poetry of Anna Margolin for which she received a Hadassah-Brandeis research award, a collaboration with filmmaker Elle Flanders, and the commissioned composition of an orchestra piece in honour of Shostakovitch’s 100th birthday for C.B.C.
>>Tiina Kiik - The Wholenote Dec 2006 - February 2007
Marilyn Lerner is no stranger to Canadian audiences. She is a multifaceted and extremely talented musician who draws on vast musical knowledge and experience to create a unique and moving sound. Lerner has never sounded better than she does here in ‘Romanian Fantasy — solo improvisations on Easter European Jewish Melodies”. She draws on her classical, jazz and Klezmer sensibilities to create a sound all her own. All eleven tracks are based on traditional tunes from which she weaves an aural tapestry of an uncompromising nature. This is her strongest playing yet. It is extremely difficult to maintain the listener’s attention with a solo performance, even more so when the element of improvisation is added. But Lerner makes sound all so easy, all so interesting, and all so pleasing, that I just wanted to hear more and more and more. From the upbeat and energetic Rumshinsky ‘s Bulgar to the more soulful Gasn Nign/StreetSong, everything is
perfect. This is music and a performance to cherish... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
>>Irwin Block Montreal Gazette 2006-10-26:
Pianist Marilyn Lerner takes Jewish folk melodies of central and Eastern Europe and gives them new life with her solo interpretations. The Montreal native, known both as a free-jazz musician and interpreter of Jewish music, combines the two roles in her arrangements of 11 tunes, which vary from the finger-snapping
and danceable to the spiritual and reflective. Lerner gets into the soul of these songs and tone poems, and such techniques as plucking strings inside the piano give a modern veneer to music from a civilization that is no more. Her sterling performance transforms these tunes into art music. FIVE STARS
>>Michael Wex: Lerner is playing the same Jewish music as contemporary klezmer musicians, but her approach transcends considerations of genre for the sake of a return to something probably closer to the approach of such nineteenth-century legends as Gusikow or Pedotser, concerning whose virtuosity and compositions no hyphens seem ever to have been used. Lerner isn't playing "Jewish" music in a "jazz" or "classical" style any more than she's playing it in traditional (or even non-traditional) klezmer styles. She's approaching Jewish music as an organic part of the contemporary musical landscape, applying the same interpretive standards as she would in a less "ethnic" context.
>>Mark Miller (Globe and Mail): ..among the most interesting minds on the Canadian jazz scene today
>>Fred Hersch: Marilyn Lerner is a truly gifted pianist and a fearless improviser-both in the Jazz and New Music idioms. Her playing shows maturity, thoughtfulness and a passionate commitment to her art.
>>Tamara Bernstein (National Post): ..this remarkable pianist..has established herself as one of the most exhilarating improvisers in Canada's jazz and new music scene.
>>Robert Enright :(Borderlines Magazine)
“She's a rhapsodic scientist in that she knows what the experiment is, and she's going to have a helluva lot of fun conducting it.”