Ernesto Diaz-Infante | Solus

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Solus

by Ernesto Diaz-Infante

free improvisation, abstract, atonal, quick cascading notes, pensive, introspective, and near-meditative."this album casts a new light on Diaz-Infante's previous records" Francois Couture, All Music Guide
Genre: Jazz: Free Jazz
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2. II
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Solus is a collection of free improvisations for solo piano by San Francisco-based composer/improviser Ernesto Diaz-Infante. Solus is comprised of 13 short abstract improvs, allowing the listener to experience a new dimension of Diaz-Infante's piano work.

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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Andrew Magilow, Splendid Magazine

Diaz-Infante may have just released the CD that'll blow your mind!
You never know what to expect from Ernesto Diaz-Infante. This time around, the enigmatic composer mans the piano, without accompaniment, for what has to be his best work to date. While most of his previous releases have tended to bounce around in an experimental airlock, the thirteen pieces on Solus are dramatic works of free jazz, filtering through the air with a beautiful dissonance. Diaz-Infante takes his cues from a strange amalgamation of Thelonious Monk and Matthew Shipp as he fluidly pounds out note after note, while retaining a certain air of composure that's strikingly composed, yet subtly mischievous. This virtuoso isn't out to play a few relaxing ballads to soothe your soul; he wants to challenge not only himself, but the listening audience, with tricky chord changes and rambunctious runs across the ivory keys. With jaw dropping intensity and an exceptionally tasty and creative style, Diaz-Infante may have just released the CD that'll blow your mind -- ka-blaam!

Ingvar Loco Nordin, Sonoloco Record Reviews

a true delight for mind and soul alike...
The piano literature is vast, huge, enormous, especially if you look at it historically and across the styles. The piano is the instrument of instruments. To come up with something that will startle you, or at all stand out from the mass of recordings, would seem hard, if not on the verge of the impossible. Yet it can be done, and seemingly with ease, as Ernesto Diaz-Infante plainly demonstrates on his new CD “Solus” from the California-based Pax Recordings.

On hearing this music the first time other composers and pianists and their works do come to mind, if only for comparison, like Swedish pianist/composer Staffan Björklund and his CD “Dialogues pour piano seul” on Nosag CD 044, or even Terry Riley and some of his piano improvisations, like passages on “The Harp of New Albion” on Celestial Harmonies, CEL 018/19. However, Ernesto Diaz-Infante appears in his very own right. This CD with thirteen complex and intricate piano improvisations constitutes a true delight for mind and soul alike. Listening is like studying a Persian rug, or maybe like lying flat on your stomach on one of those rugs, smelling the textile, or why not like rolling over and, lying on your back, watching the summer clouds drift in the breeze over the flatlands on the outskirts of Shiraz, with a cup of strong black tea within easy reach…

György Ligeti’s “Etudes” do come up too, in the neighborhood of Diaz-Infante’s, especially in their intellectual aspect, and also, of course, Ligeti’s favorite Conlon Nancarrow and his spectacular and highly praised “Studies for Player Piano” on Wergo. You cannot ignore the influence of Pierre Boulez and his “Sonates pour piano” in this context either.
Needless to say, this shows that Diaz-Infante belongs in a select group of musical personalities.

These thirteen improvisations, all in the time bracket between 1:50 and 6:00, are highly individual, while they’re all similar in their tendency to fall forward in a seemingly – yes, seemingly – haphazard way, like they’re sort of tripping over themselves in a joyous tour-de-force of pianistic playfulness, at times in cascades of ivory, like the tick-like movements of an intoxicated Pinocchio. This “falling” is similar, though, to the satellites in orbit, falling their way around Earth. It works! Sometimes little pauses are inserted, which make the impression of this music even more meditative and eastern in all its cow-dust-hour transparency and intimacy. The music borders on the idiom of some modern jazz improvisations, but still not - and I would not try to brand it, since that is impossible and a stupid waste of time. This is the music of Ernesto Diaz-Infante, and it’s darn good. It’s good art – that’s what it is; good art! Enjoy! Explore and enjoy!

Frank Rubolino, One Final Note

logically developed free improvisations spun around a near-aggressive dynamic...
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.


Solus from 1999 finds Diaz-Infante again expressing himself in energized terms with logically developed free improvisations spun around a near-aggressive dynamic. His left hand and right hand compete with opposing views on openness, allowing the music to advance to a fully liberated state. He almost completely abandons the concept of space as a partner to sound and fills the recording with ringing, astutely creative improvisations. Diaz-Infante maintains his penchant for resonance, and in these selections, the music resounds through his vibrating authority. Gone for the most part are the spacious ruminations. In their place are cascading swells of improvised music being swept up in the current of activity he generates. Although he again employs the suite concept, the 13 passages knit together to form an ongoing, breathing example of free speech. In response to my inquiry on the evolving nature of the four albums, Diaz-Infante told me that he felt Solus was the culmination of what he was trying to say through the piano.

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.

François Couture, All Music Guide

this album casts a new light on Diaz-Infante's previous records
As Ernesto Diaz-Infante's fourth solo piano CD, Solus was a surprise. His first three releases dealt with minimal piano playing in reflexive moods, delivering very soft and tonal music. Solus is all free improvisation, abstract, atonal and a lot faster. Here, Diaz-Infante's playing sounds inspired by Borah Bergman (although less mannered). The pianist plays quick cascading notes, suddenly stopping to rest on one a second or two before resuming. Low and high registers are blended together. At times the music seems to become nothing but a vehicle for the pianist's technique, but usually there is a strong expression coming out of these dislocated improvisations. Most of the thirteen pieces are between three and four minutes of duration, allowing the musician to reset the mood often. If anything, this album casts a new light on Diaz-Infante's previous records: by showing the listener the extension of his piano technique, the improviser dissipates any doubts that Itz'at, Tepeu or Ucross Journal were the recordings of a limited pianist. They now clearly appear as deliberate artistic choices.