Finally. My first solo album is out. For most people a solo endeavour like this one might seem pretty straight forward, but it was very much a group effort and I owe my gratitude to so many who have helped me create this.
It took me years to find a project or repertoire I was passionate about and which could convey something unique. So finally after searching and not finding anything I decided to compose and improvise. The title “Freehand” was suggested by my good friend Johann Slabbert referring to the carte blanche concept of being free enough to play what I liked. He was urged me to dig deeper and keep improvising. And that is exactly what I did. I followed my own inner voice and did not worry about content, form, style or any preconceived musical idea and just play.
Thanks to Herman van Niekerk and the friendly staff at the Etienne Rousseau Theatre in Sasolburg we found three uninterrupted days where I could just improvise and play what I liked. This theatre has a very beautiful Steinway concert grand that was rebuilt by Ian Burgess-Simpson pianos a few years ago. I was fortunate enough to have Steinway technician Rudolf Strydom prepare the piano for the recording and videographer Adriaan Esterhuizen filmed the whole process.
SAMA-award winning recording engineer (who happens to be my good friend and colleague in my trio) Peter Auret was responsible for recording. I played whatever I felt like or whatever came up in my mind, prompted by childhood memories and even residue of classical or jazz repertoire. All these feelings and random thoughts were the bulk of the inspiration I needed to record more than 20 hours of music.
I deliberately did not listen to any of the recordings on completion and five months later started sorting through the takes to choose a suitable amount of tracks. Great was my surprise that some of the tracks were completely unknown to me and I did not recognise it at all. That is when I realised I had reached the level of spontaneity I wanted to achieve with this project. The music is all my own (except for one spontaneous Bach Prelude and theme from its accompanying Fugue) and often melancholic and slow – almost to the point of being hypnotic, but I had real joy in recording this and in listening to the final product – something I have seldom experienced with my own music.
This disc is intended for relaxing and enjoying. Comfort music.
Available for sale at live shows only for a limited period.
Freehand will be available online in December – in time for all your Christmas shopping needs.