Ernesto Diaz-Infante | Itz'at

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Itz'at

by Ernesto Diaz-Infante

Spacious, slow, minimalist, Feldmanesque feel, alluring, "static" beauty, peaceful reflective art. "Highly recommended." Richard di Santo, Incursion
Genre: Jazz: Free Jazz
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1. Pax Preludes I-XIII
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3:17 $0.99
2. Mariposa Liviana
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Itz'at (Mayan word for artist) is a collection of compositons for solo piano by San Francisco-based composer Ernesto Diaz-Infante. Itz'at features pieces composed to use as spring-boards for improvisation; the compositions have a spacious, minimalist feel while retaining focused intention.

Born in Salinas, California, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, is Chicano (of Mexican descent). He received his MFA in Music Composition from California Institute of the Arts (studied with Wadada Leo Smith and Stephen L. Mosko) and has created musical compositions that span a broad perspective: transcendental piano, noise, avant-garde guitar, field recordings, lo-fi four-track manipulations, and experimental song. ED-I has performed throughout Europe and the United States, and his music has been broadcasted internationally. He has recorded more than 15 CDs of music and collaborated with numerous musicans. In 2000, his composition, I/O (for chamber ensemble), was performed by the California EAR Unit. He has been awarded residencies at the Centre International de Recherche Musicale (CIRM) in Nice, France, The Millay Colony for the Arts, Villa Montalvo, The Ucross Foundation, among others. He runs Pax Recordings record label which is dedicated to the documentation, preservation, and contagion of music from the margins of our culture and psyches. He lives in San Francisco with the filmmaker/video artist Marjorie Sturm and their son and daughter.


Reviews


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Ingvar Loco Nordin, Sonoloco Record Reviews

The tones from Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s piano are like rays of light...
A misty Japanese landscape… haikus; concentrated, yet transparent, like calligraphy…
A structure of ebony and ivory, a spiraling slow-motion…

This is not to be hurried, not to be forced, but to let happen, let flow, let move in a natural direction, like the Lapland streams flowing down from the glaciers up above, between the snowy summits, always finding the natural way down to the meandering river in the valley.

I don’t say that these sparse keyboard locations (like birds settling on little rocks out in the sea) bring on exactly the same atmospheres as some of the pieces by Morton Feldman – but the analogy is self-evident: the notes that sort of just trickle slowly, one after the other, forming, not necessarily a melody, but… a row of notes… Yes, these pieces constitute – trigger – a certain feeling of restfulness, of the northern mountains, of the way your body feels after a long day's trek across rough terrain, through fords and up steep climbs; the way the body feels as you sit down, gulping the glacier water, mineral rich and tasty, and the warmth and tiredness flows through your anatomy.

I think the first Morton Feldman CD I got was “Piano” on Hat Art. Marianne Schroeder played the piano in pieces like “Piano” and “Palais de Mari”, and this CD “itz’at” reminds me a lot of that CD, and it brings on some of the highly pleasurable emotions and sensations I got from that first encounter with Feldman. That is a very high praise for Diaz-Infante’s solo piano playing, and rightfully so.


“The Pax Preludes I – XIII” could well become a classic set in the introspective music field. The tones from Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s piano are like rays of light reflecting from puddles of water on a gravel road through a forlorn Russian shanty-town a day of grayish fall in November; like glimpses of indestructible soul in a dreary human situation, even making me think of mystics like Meister Eckart or Thomas of Aquino – or maybe even of pre-Socrats like the Pindaros of emerging Greece, way back in a golden age of human dawn…

Concluding “Mariposa Liviana” is a little longer than the different pieces of “Pax Preludes”, but moves along in much the same venue.

It takes a lot of human experience, human maturity – and intuition – to compose, play… and listen to these pieces. They are true gems; water drops on spider webs in low sunlight through the woods.

I’ll say no more. I’ll just listen… listen…

Richard di Santo, Incursion

Highly recommended.
These two discs (Itz'at and Tepeu) are the first in an ongoing series of annual recordings for solo piano by improvisational composer Ernesto Diaz-Infante published by Pax Recordings. Since then two others have been released, Ucross Journal in 1999 and Solus in 2000.

Recorded in 1997, Itz'at comprises 13 "Pax Preludes" and a longer composition called "Mariposa Liviana". The pieces are quiet and are played with noticeable calm and deliberation; the piano tumbles slowly through a maze of contemplative movements, inspiring in the listener a call for pause and introspection. The music is really quite beautiful, and the more I listen to it the more I notice the subtleties and nuances in the compositions and in the performance. Diaz-Infante has become more and more adventurous in his music over the past few years, and I suspect that these early improvisations for piano represent only a small portion of his capabilities.

Tepeu, recorded exactly one year following Itz'at on the fourth of July, 1998, is so named after a Mayan god who has the role of bringing order to the universe. Diaz-Infante finds a kindred spirit in Tepeu, for he says: "I think of my creative process as bringing order out of chaos". Collected here are six improvisations (one of them structured, the other five being "free"). On this recording we see Diaz-Infante building on the foundation he had established one year earlier, creating pieces which share a similar quality of studious and deliberate playing. But this time the music is more bold, the keys are struck with greater force, and there is more of a sense that a time for introspection must always be met by a time for decision making and action (hence the thesis-antithesis-synthesis theme in the track titles). Conflicting emotions ranging from a cool sort of calm to more confused emotional states mark the moods of these bold and energetic pieces, creating a greater sense of urgency but also a sense of incomprehensible mystery, the kind that's at the root of the human condition.

Both of these discs from Diaz-Infante offer captivating compositions that reward the listener at every turn; this is the kind of music that increases in richness and meaning as the listener builds on experiences in his own life. Highly recommended.

Last Sigh Zine

I recommend if you enjoy works by other pianists such as Harold Budd, get this c
Produced by Ernesto Diaz-Infante, engineered and mixed by Steve Bird, mastered by David Dvorian, this work of solo piano music is wonderfully soft and warmly touching. Pax Preludes sets in motion a gentle flow of slow, single touch key by key, coupled with peaceful mello-dramatique chord interludes that moves the listener into a place of aural ambiance.
The sound quality of this CD is excellent. You can actually hear the vibration of the hammers on the strings, which Ernesto allows to play themselves out in their entirety -- a pleasant change from the synthetic keys I am so used to giving my attention to. I can hear Earnesto's love for music/sound lies with this instrument by the way in which he plays, and the music he has composed here. It is very thought provoking music, allowing me some time for reflection in my own life, thinking about what has happened, and what may come -- it's absolutely beautiful.
This is the type of music you can rest and relax to after a fast paced hustle-bustle day. I recommend if you enjoy works by other pianists such as Harold Budd, get this cd.

Frank Rubolino, One Final Note

The recording is a telling look into the mind of the man...
The piano music of Ernesto Diaz-Infante is a totally different matter and evolves as a thought-induced process devoid of such physicality. It is pensive, introspective, and near-meditative, building on somber tones that dwell in dark recesses of his mind; yet the captive poetry is able to escape its habitat and in so doing expose his searching soul. These four albums span a period of 28 months. Itz’at and Tepeu were recorded on the same date in 1997, Ucross Journal 14 months later, and Solus 14 months after that. Each is a solo venture where Diaz-Infante probes deeply into the inner core of the songs. His musings are reflective, spontaneous, sometimes sparse, and sometimes voluminous. They surface as gems of beauty dripping from the vibrating keys.

Itz’at consists of a suite in 13 parts plus one additional in-depth analysis. It is marked by sound and space, with both of these natural elements having an equal footing. Diaz-Infante builds short phrases of interrupted but not abrupt lines, and then works around and through them to milk every nuance of potential from them. His touch is semi-percussive, his tone highly resonant, and his methodology patient and exploratory. With each succeeding phrase of the suite, he dissects the lines with the precision of a surgeon and reduces them to their lowest common denominator. His direction appears linear, using the short fragments of contemplative notes to ponder the seriousness of life in layered fashion. “Mariposa Liviana”, which follows the suite, develops in full-bodied measures by expanding the resonance, filling in the space, and uniting in a substantive statement having the same weighty countenance as the suite. The recording is a telling look into the mind of the man. It leaves one pondering the mysterious path he took while being uplifted by the journey.

Diaz-Infante is an intricate artist whose music projects the complexity of the man and the emotions of his inner being. He is able to convey his immediate feelings through his playing, making each recording unique and rewarding. These four discs represent a composite of an artist who uses his talent to express more than music—he expresses himself.

Noah Wane, Splendid Magazine

itz'at is that kind of peaceful reflective art that makes life...
Upon first hearing the two solo piano works that make up itz'at ("Pax Preludes I-XIII" and "Mariposa Liviana"), I was struck by their alluring, "static" beauty. Reminiscent at times of the music of Morton Feldman, though more lyrical, Mr. Diaz-Infante's compositional style tends towards delicate, shimmering harmonic structures and melodies of subtle movement. His approach to formal development is quite free, possibly indicating some degree of improvisation, and I initially wondered if this freedom would degrade into new age noodling. Refreshingly, however, I found both pieces on itz'at to be nicely unified and endowed with direction, albeit subtly -- in a gentle, flowing sort of way. With a general dynamic level that never exceeds mezzo piano and a tempo that is a consistent, comfortable rubato, itz'at is that kind of peaceful reflective art that makes life in our decidedly unpeaceful world more bearable. "Pax Preludes" indeed.

Tom Schulte, All Music Guide

Sparse and skeletal improvisations on a patient but fluid theme make this piece
Two original pieces for solo piano are on this CD named with the Mayan word for artist. The first, "Pax Preludes," is in 13 sections. Sparse and skeletal improvisations on a patient but fluid theme make this piece even and tranquil, drowsily content and serene. "Mariposa Liviana" is stylistically mated to the "Preludes" but bears a closer placement of notes for a fuller composition, allowing for a closer study of contrasting volume and sustain. The development of the base material saves Itz'at from slipping into the rut that houses much of minimalism.