Reviews & Citations

CITATIONS:

       • Contribution featured in new book “The Future of (High) Culture in America” from

          Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 

       • London’s Financial Times writer Stephen Witt cites me and my blog.

       • Copyright Alliance cites my blog on Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven."

       • FraKipedia? My jazz text referenced on Wikipedia regarding “upper structure” harmonies.

       • Stuart Nicholson references my blog as a source in his latest book “Jazz
          and Culture in a Global Age
.” My Fulbright project was inspired by his earlier book “Is Jazz
          Dead?

       The New York Times’ Alex Ross lists my blog in his Blogroll.

        • Phil Woods references my blog on the Phil Woods Forum (Woods is a famous jazz
           saxophonist who played the sax solo on Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are”) 

       • Wang Chung’s Jack Hues cites my blog in an interview with Chuck Norton.

       • Led Zeppelin Forum discusses my blog.

       Jethro Tull Forum discusses my blog.

        • Translation of my blog on the band GHOST, in Brazil.

       • The Coven, a GHOST fan site, references my first GHOST blog.

        • Gawker Media’s Kirk Hamilton discusses my blog. 

        • On the Board of Trustees/Management Team for the City of Mannheim.

       WMPH Super 91.7 FM John Gonce Jazz Blog repost my blog on building a jazz audience.

       • KJEM FM’s reposts my blog on building a jazz audience.

       Education website EARIC reposts my blog on jazz programs in higher education.

        • International Schools of Jazz Education uses two of my blogs as discussion pieces for their
            “Ongoing Dialogues” Series.

          • Uncommon Correlations blogroll.

          • International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)/Petrucci Music Library blogroll.

        

REVIEWS:

Kurt Ellenberger Trio: “SONGS FROM FAR WEST”

“...A sacred atmosphere...true third stream music. Through the years this young pianist has produced a classical oeuvre containing two concertos, works for voice and piano and a brass quintet.  The repertoire on Songs From Far West has the serious tone that suits the cross-over between Jazz and Classical Music.  Even in...[his] rendition of In A Sentimental Mood Ellenberger tries to bring the smoky joints of 52nd Street and Claude Debussy closer together. (By the way, Ellenberger also deserves a reward for his titles: Larkspur In Aspen, Herr Mann's Fell'd, Sorcerer's Apprentice.)”          
                                                                                        Maarten de Haan, Jazznu (The Netherlands)

“Kurt Ellenberger is a gifted pianist who combines the lyricism of Bill Evans with the energy of Keith Jarrett in his playing. He wrote most of the music for this trio session with bassist David Dunn and drummer Dane Richeson, including the hypnotic “Herr Mann's Fell'd,” the dreamy “Internal Presence” and the tasty ballad “Sorcerer's Apprentice,” in which Evans' influence is most obvious. His spacious interpretations of Duke Ellington's “In A Sentimental Mood” and “Noblissima Visione,” a gem by the neglected classical composer Paul Hindemith, round out this extraordinary CD.”                   
                                                                                               Ken Dryden, Chattanooga Times Free Press

“The Ellenberger Trio's debut CD is a collection of well crafted pieces and offers an immediate listening pleasure.  At first, the music seems to fall under the category of mainstream jazz, that strange stylistic convention which, under the "wrong" fingers, can turn into the musical equivalent of poor quality fast food.  As a matter of fact, the Ellenberger Trio's musical roots are, indeed, in mainstream jazz: straightforward theme-improvisation(s)-theme formal outline, regular and flexible pulse, introspective but fairly optimistic expression, and an avoidance of striking dynamic contrasts.  Yet, there is much more to the Trio's creations than meets the ear.  Ellenberger's music gradually unfolds its inner, complex layers, and the three soloists' exquisite playing draws attention deeper and deeper into this unusually beautiful and sophisticated sonic world.  What sets this recording apart from many others is its skillful and harmonious blend of diverse influences ranging from classical (“Nobilissima Visione” and “Sorcerer's Apprentice”) to non-Western (listen carefully to the opening of “Herr Mann's Fell’d”) to the jazz tradition (“In a Sentimental Mood”).  Within the clearly delineated stylistic idiom, all three musicians turn out to be quite inventive, and the array of subtle emotional and textural shifts which they have managed to create is truly admirable.  Tour de force.”  
                                           Piotr Grella-Mozejko, President, Edmonton Composers’ Concert Society

"The first two extended numbers, 12 and 10+ minutes long, set the tone.  “Larkspur In Aspen” has wisps of bass and drums while Ellenberger builds blocks and waves of sound within a Jarrett-like construct from a mid-tempo framework.  “Herr Mann's Fell'd” continues the steadily streaming rhythms and flowing piano, rather ECM-ish.  “Internal Presence” goes deeper and slower, “Sorcerer's Apprentice” picks up to an easy swing, Far West is the most pronounced rhythmically with swing and samba patterns.  The pianist tackles Duke Ellington's “In A Sentimental Mood” with reverent respect as if gently blowing fluffed seeds off a dandelion.  The surprise is a reading of Paul Hindemith's “Nobilissima Visione” as Ellenberger captures the sober, crystalline shards of light so typical of Hindemith's neo-classical with jazz inferences concept, quite warm and effusive.”                      
                                                                                            Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide (USA)

“What a recording!  I recommend it to everyone...Ellenberger is a composer and performer whose extensive background in both classical music and jazz allows him to explore sources often inaccessible to others...”
                                                                                                                                       Piotr Grella-Mozejko

“…SONGS FROM FAR WEST  features mostly original compositions, with the exceptions of In a Sentimental Mood and an improvisational rendering of Paul Hindemith’s “Nobilissima Visione.” Opening the disc is “Larkspur in Aspen” in which the pianist’s voice enters our consciousness with a tentative ease; the beautiful melodies unfold slowly, and gradually tensions build. We can hear…that this is music of harnomic complexity, yet coupled with a single note phrasing, swirling clusters, and a personal sense of lyricism. There is a classical overtone in this jazz, and on “Herr Mann’s Fell’d,” the complexity of the chordal structure is balanced by a simmering heat beneath the melody that swings…always controlled, yet always there. With “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” the piano swings with confidence… There is a storytelling quality to Ellenberger’s music, as in most good music, and patience in the telling of the tale. Nothing is rushed here, and the subtle intelligence of the drama will bring rewards to those who listen. Ellenberger’s rendition of “In a Sentimental Mood” mesmerizes. Again, rather than attack Duke [Ellington] with a rush of sound, the pianist easies into this elegy…with an admirable display of poise and taste. Far West closes the album with a tune that swings with a joyful feel, and the rhythm section (on this and throughout) is responsive [and] decisive…almost rocking in the final moments of the piece. Ellenberger [is] a great talent in both composition and improvisation.”                             

                                                                                                                          Scott Vander Werf, The Paper

"The new project by the Kurt Ellenberger Trio SONGS FROM FAR WEST displays very sensitive musicianship from all three participants. The trio flows with respect for the music and each other from beginning to end.”                                                                  
                                                                                                             David Friesen, Bassist and Composer

“After listening to Kurt Ellenberger's CD, SONGS FROM FAR WEST, it is clear to me that Kurt possesses an uncanny ability to balance true intellect with passion.  His poise at the piano clearly demonstrates his classical training and his unique composition style reflects a broad range of influences which ultimately reveals a highly individualized sound that encompasses the twentieth century.  SONGS FROM FAR WEST is a compilation of profound musical landscapes that offer a glimpse into the world of Ellenberger; a highly accomplished pianist and gifted composer.” 

                                                                                                                                                    Elias Haslanger

GV New Music Ensemble: Steve Reich’s "MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS"

“…a really moving recording of the piece. A gorgeous and stunningly accurate CD of Music for 18 Musicians, from the heartland to the heart. Take a listen.”                           
                                                                                                                                       Steve Reich, Composer

“…simply exhilarating…silkily beautiful, entrancing and utterly alive interpretation…”                                          
                                                                                                        Anastasia Tsioulcas, Billboard Magazine

“A daunting composition, approached with daring…”  
                                                                                                                   Steve Smith, The New York Times

“The results are clearly audible in the sharp-edged, hugely energized playing…”
                                                                                                                                        Alan Rich, LA Weekly

“[The] musicians play with glistening precision, yet they also bring out the variously jubilant and wistful emotions beneath the surface of Reich’s score. The result is a vibrant recording that deserves to leap from the new-music ghetto onto the mainstream charts.”                                                                
                                                                                                                                Alex Ross, The New Yorker

“The story of the year in new music circles…Reich's 1976 masterwork—long considered one of the most challenging pieces in new music. It was a labor of love—intense, obsessive love—and they not only learned to play the piece, they learned to play it well.”            
                                                                                                                               John Schaefer, Soundcheck

“…terrific new recording from Innova…kinetic, infections [and] vividly recorded performance…”                                                                        
                                                                                                                                 Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

“A must-hear from beginning to end…rock solid ensemble and vibrant phrasing…A must-hear, from beginning to end.”                                                  
                                                                                             Andrew Drukenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“It's a gorgeous rendering of Reich's work.”                                
                                                                                                               John Sinkevics, Grand Rapids Press

Other

“The recital of new music at this year’s [International Trumpet Guild Conference, 2003] opened with the glorious sound of Kurt Ellenberger’s “An Invective Against Swans”…[the] piece was vibrant, exciting, and truly brilliant.”
                                                                    Joel Treybig International Trumpet Guild Journal Review

American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP): Composition Award winner, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006

“It's nearly a certainty that you've heard Vivaldi's “Four Seasons” before. You haven't heard it like the Grand Rapids Symphony played it on Friday night. Pianist and composer Kurt Ellenberger…transported Vivaldi's early 18th century pieces forward in time nearly 300 years…a snazzy performance that ended in a standing ovation lasting nearly five minutes.”                             
                                                                                                  Jeff Kaczmarczyk, Grand Rapids Press 

©Kurt Ellenberger 2017 
Artwork: Vincent Van Gogh and Vilnos Aba-Novák.  Photography by Bernadine Carey