The Squid's Ear Magazine

Futterman, Joel: Transition One (Creation Music)

A remarkable tour de force of solo piano improvisation on this self-released album from Virginia-based but New York-associated pianist Joel Futterman, recording in the studio in 2009 for a three-part series of exploratory and profoundly masterful improvisations, captivating with intense and technical passages that yield to lyrically beautiful and expansive playing.

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product information:

Label: Creation Music
Catalog ID: 14
Squidco Product Code: 30129

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2009
Country: USA
Packaging: Slimline CD with insert card
Recorded at Shield Recordings In Fairfax, Virginia, on May 16th, 2009, by Scott Dargan and Benjamin Tomasetti.


Joel Futterman-piano

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Pianist and improviser Joel Futterman engages an extremely broad sense of the piano's history and possibilities on Transition One, the seventh disc of solo piano music that he has released himself, following the six-disc set Creation (2008). Futterman is based in Virginia and is probably best known for his small-group collaborations with saxophonists Kidd Jordan and Ike Levin, and drummer Alvin Fielder, throughout the last two decades. Naturally, this is not that-solo piano music (or solo music of any stripe; and Futterman has also recorded solo music for soprano saxophone and Indian flutes) requires a dedication to exploring one's own lexicon independently of immediate conversation. Futterman explores sound and the instrument in much the same way as he talks or deals with words-drawling romanticism, punchy barrelhouse, and passages of explosive density that nevertheless espouse a sense of utter clarity. Each of the three pieces here is completely improvised, without-as Futterman would tell it-any preconception.

Composing in the moment is, for some improvisers, a reworking of one's art with a set structure to work within. For someone like Futterman, it is a blank-minded exploration of a lifetime of experience, craft, and performance. Assemblages of interdependent single-note thoughts eddy and dance, forming sharp rivulets and painterly crags, moving from sentences to paragraphs to words and isolated statements in a resoundingly physical conversation with the piano. Futterman is keyed into the tradition, and snatches of post-bop phrasing and lush, gospelized inflection imbue this piano-chase. Though logic is a part of Futterman's freedom, surprise is an equal bedfellow-the closing four minutes of the opening movement being a case in point, as the pianist explores a viscous ballad, swirling maelstroms, and rolling fragments of Jaki Byard-like stride. Transition One is a tour de force of solo playing from one of the staunchest individualists in contemporary pianism."-Ni Kantu By Clifford Allen, All About Jazz

Get additional information at All About Jazz

Artist Biographies

"Joel Futterman, Piano and Indian Flute

Determined to push the limits of the piano to techniques never heard in jazz, Joel began a 25-year regimen of practicing 8-10 hours a day. During this period, he developed a three-hand technique based on completely autonomous playing between the hands. With more than 70 recordings, he is considered one of the most innovative yet enigmatic new music pianists.

Known for his spirited, highly imaginative, and innovative piano technique, Joel Futterman is an internationally recognized veteran pioneer into the frontiers of spontaneous, improvised music. He is considered one of the foremost inventive and adventurous artists shaping the creative, progressive music scene today. Futterman continuously pushes the limits of the piano as he explores new musical horizons. He has performed across North America and Europe including at such noted music festivals as the Tampere Jazz Festival in Finland, the Vision Festival in New York, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and the Guelph Festival in Canada. He has performed with such notable jazz innovators as Jimmy Lyons, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Paul Murphy, Joseph Jarman, Richard Davis, William Parker, Alvin Fielder, and Hal Russell; as well as Edward 'Kidd' Jordan, with whom he has had a highly productive association. For many years, Futterman has also played the Indian Wooden Flute.

Joel Futterman was born in Chicago, IL. He grew up and lived in Chicago until 1972. Joel had piano lessons from about age 9-11, then continued playing on his own, eventually studying theory and harmony with Alan Swain. Joel met Clarence (Gene) Shaw when he was 18 and studied with Clarence for two years. Clarence was an important influence at the time. One night Clarence invited Joel to his home for a party. He introduced Joel to Charles Mingus. Joel recalls that Mingus gripped his hand firmly and stared up at the ceiling.

Joel attended University of Illinois in Chicago obtaining a (B.S.). Herman Finer, professor of political science, was a profound influence and encouraged Joel to pursue his creative endeavors.

While Joel was in college, his mother passed away and he isolated himself and began practicing 12 to 16 hours a day. Practicing was the only comfort for him at this time.

Joel attended Northeastern University in Chicago and worked on an MS in Education. He was nine hours short of receiving the degree when he decided to leave Chicago. Joel did receive an MS in Education with an endorsement in Reading at Old Dominion University in 1975.

In 1972, Joel moved to Virginia, where he resides today, in a personal quest to develop his creative voice. His first album, CAFETERIA, was released in 1980 to considerable acclaim due to its originality. Since then, his recordings have included a number of jazz legends, such as Jimmy Lyons, Richard Davis, Hal Russell, William Parker and others. In 1994, photographer Michael Wilderman introduced Joel to Edward 'Kidd' Jordan, and since then Joel has enjoyed many rewarding musical collaborations with Kidd and drummer Alvin Fielder. Also, Joel Futterman has had a deep association with artist Ike Levin, founder of the Charles Lester Label."

-Joel Futterman Website (

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Track Listing:

1. Part One 26:10

2. Part Two 26:45

3. Part Three 6:22

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Piano & Keyboards
Solo Artist Recordings

Search for other titles on the label:
Creation Music.

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