Recorded at The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool, UK on 30/31 Aug 2012, on their bespoke Steinway D Grand Piano
Recorded & Mastered by Roland Clarke
Produced by Pat Thomas
Cover Art - Sally Pannifex
Cover Photo - Robert Mitchell
Back Cover Photo - Alvise Guadagnino
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
released February 18, 2013
ABOUT THE ALBUM
"I knew that I would love to see what the left hand alone could do – given the chance to lead and shape an improvisation. The limits throw up different pathways, previously unseen possibilities, and a sensibility that uses the explicit and the implied in a fascinatingly different way. So one piece that integrated this for the first time for me – The Glimpse – led to many more." - Robert Mitchell
Robert Mitchell, one of the most revered pianists performing in the UK today, has long searched for a way to present music that celebrates left hand only piano playing and has spent much time researching its history. In classical music (Zichy, Wittgenstein, Godowsky) through to jazz (Phineas Newborn Jr, Borah Bergman, Kenny Drew Jr.) there have been a number of great pianists who have defined left hand only composition, teaching and performance. Bud Powell's style of playing was famously economic with use of his left hand; he performed left hand only in response to criticism from Art Tatum. Fats Waller studied with Leopold Godowsky who famously created left hand only arrangements of Chopin's classic piano etudes. Bill Evans performed with his trio with only his left hand during a week at the Village Vanguard in 1963 because his right was incapacitated. There are many more moments of left hand only piano playing in the history of jazz but they are not widely acknowledged as being important in the development of the genre. The aim of Mitchell's debut Whirlwind release The Glimpse as well as his newly formed 'Leftitude Festival' is to open up the discussion and bring light to this art from in general.
The Glimpse (a left-hand only solo piano album) explores Mitchell's wider fascination with history's treatment of left-handers deeming them to be second-class citizens purely because they are a minority. Mitchell explains: "Did the evolution of writing drive the domination of right-handedness? How have so many languages all come to regard the left hand in such low esteem? Why would this result in so many being forced to change their writing hand, to endure witch-hunts and worse? What would be the result of more balance, more cooperation, and more equal reverence for left and right? What if these concepts were to become unified? The piano allows this single hand music to be possible – but I am sure it is not alone in this respect. Given the circumstances – and hugely determined individuals or groups – other instruments have been, or will go through the same process. The concepts surrounding the normal or correct way to play take ages to arrive at. But I don't think they will ever stop evolving. And certainly - creativity doesn't listen. It can illuminate the most impossible of situations – and bestow the most graceful solution. In its own time! I look forward to doing more in this area. And to many more fascinating conversations that have resulted from this project."
From improvisations spanning the range of the piano to a reworking of Fred Hersch's 'Nocturne for the Left Hand Only,' The Glimpse is both a strikingly original album and essential contribution to the canon of left-hand only solo piano from an artist whose vision continues to grow without boundaries.
"The Glimpse will surely be a revelation for many listeners."
"The brilliant Robert Mitchell triumphantly gives us 50 minutes of absorbing music, played with his left hand only... A life-affirming set of pieces that reveal new depths with each listening."
"Robert Mitchell is pushing the envelope in Solo Piano...What is perhaps the real triumph of 'The Glimpse' is the sense of distillation and clarity that is achieved without any denuding... There is a heightened lyricism that has a kind of innocence at times, and that makes this music touching as well as stimulating."
★★★★ Jazzwise Magazine
★★★★ Echo Magazine
"Recorded in Liverpool’s Capstone Theatre, the sound quality is excellent, capturing the attention to detail in Mitchell’s playing. It is also possible to hear and appreciate the space and ambience of the room. It is a glimpse into different and previously unseen musical worlds."
★★★★ Music OMH
"One of Mitchell’s most satisfying recordings to date."
★★★★ The Jazz Mann
"Brilliant solo album of left-handed compositions."
"The Glimpse is a beautiful album, often quiet, naturally spacious, remarkably harmonically dense (it’s amazing what a musician of Mitchell’s wisdom and skill can do with five notes), and richly varied in mood."
The Jazz Breakfast
"Mitchell’s album is something of a revelation, including absorbing improvisations, compositions (by Federico Mompou and Fred Hersch) and a number of cogent Mitchell originals that intriguingly vindicate his stated aim: to exploit ‘different pathways, previously unseen possibilities, and a sensibility that uses the explicit and the implied in a fascinatingly different way’."
London Jazz News
"The music is recorded beautifully and Mitchell's touch and nuances come to the fore throughout. The music is simple but lovely, and spacious as well, with plenty of time given to contemplation of its simple beauty. From the light touch of 'Alice's Touch' to the angular defiance of 'Leftitude', Mitchell explores all possibilities for this one-handed set without resorting to gimmicks. This is a work of simple beauty and emotion worth listening to by those who love crystal clear, impressionistic piano music."
A Jazz Listener's Thoughts
"The Glimpse is a delight—a true celebration of the beauty of left hand solo piano and a reminder of music's seemingly endless imagination and desire for creative exploration... A work of real beauty and emotional depth.”
All About Jazz
"An innovative album... A solo feature for left hand only its dozen tracks contain some of the most unusual piano music you’ll hear this year... Remarkable."
"The Glimpse, an unaccompanied set entirely for the left hand, was originally a classical-piano commission, but with typically unswerving intellectual curiosity Mitchell has turned it into a mission."
"Robert Mitchell deserves great credit for attempting this ambitious project which aims to highlight piano compositions that either are specifically tailored for the left-handed individual, or at the very least pay homage to the virtues or otherwise of the left-hander."
"Beautifully recorded, with the pianist's every nuance readily discernible, Mitchell's style is spacious, never attempting to fill every gap, recognizing the emotional impact of silence and using it to terrific effect. The result is often somber and reflective, but always beautifully judged."
All About Jazz
"Robert Mitchell creates chamber jazz of astonishing beauty, Mitchell is a lyricist and a thinker, and British jazz is far richer for his presence."
"Mitchell frequently turned jazz piano logic on its head, comping with his right hand and soloing with the left, and even embarking on a piece written solely for left hand which somehow didn't scrimp on melodic invention or variety. How many jazz pianists have done that? (Send in an email if you can think of any…) Mitchell seemed to be looking to surprise himself at every turn, in turn surprising his audience too. You can't ask for more from a jazz musician than that."
"He's a highly focused original who's heading where he's heading no matter what."
"The compositions are complex and challenging. Clever construction reaps huge rewards... Astounding virtuoso work from Mitchell."
"Spellbinding. A truly remarkable talent. Pianist Mitchell has assembled a totally original-sounding, multinational, multicolored and multi-rhythmic group. Mitchell and his music deserve to conquer the world."
"Forward-looking rewarding and brilliant."
"Perfectly sculpting and molding the piano to a new direction."
Blues and Soul
"Individual and distinctive."
"Surely one of the best of his generation."
Yet another very delicious ride on the adventure that is Phronesis. Complex without losing musicality.
Only downside on this is the production has a rather irritating level boost at the quiet end of the tracks. Peter Jones
The trio get it together with big band goodness and show how well it _just works_, like it was meant to have always been that way.
"Untitled#1" is outstanding. "Herne Hill", the muted trumpet through to the finale - wonderful.
The rest - well - enjoy it yourself! :) Peter Jones
Trumpeter Neil Yates, accompanied by guitar and light percussion, plays a sort of world and folk tinged jazz on this album. I never thought I'd hear bodhran (a traditional Irish drum) used in a jazz context. This trio has a chemistry that is subtle yet powerful. Deidre House