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Worlds encounter one-another. Now living in Paris, Bachar Khalifé’s familial roots are in Lebanon. He represents the musical moments of the Near East, anchored in Arabian culture and colored by the variegated sound-world of the French scene. Luxembourgian vibraphonist Pascal Schumacher is the jazzman in the alliance, a much-celebrated master of improvisation who provokes unusual textural structures out of his instrument. With his piano and electronics play, fellow countryman Francesco Tristano bridges over to the classical, which the internationally-renowned Bach interpreter uses as the basis of his playing style. He also brings the sounds and impulse of the club scene with him, a perspective that opens up new musical directions.

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It’s a wild combination, and the consequences surprised even the musicians; the recordings were made because they had become necessary. Originally it was just a conceptual idea. Up until this recording, their music existed solely as live concerts, and Khalifé, Schumacher, and Tristano were often asked how one could experience the uniqueness of the evening. The joy of playing metamorphosed into the challenge of retaining the immediacy of the live concerts in the studio. The trio took their time with the microphones, experimented, and found a middle-ground between familiar motifs and spontaneous ideas. Much was born out of the moment, grew into structure and certitude in which the musicians defined their intuitive borders. Songs came into being, were put into perspective, or reinterpreted from other musical standpoints – a process that created a consolidated expression.

And that makes it exciting. Khalifé, Schumacher, and Tristano sound mature within their musical aura of happy serenity. At the same moment, they give the impression that they’re just getting started. They play with melodic, harmonic and rhythmic self-assurance and at the same time leave their traditional terrain as they seek a group sound that embodies the three individual styles in equal measure. Their music is safety and risk in one, a system of contrasts and extremes that finds its common denominator without losing its idiosyncrasies. That’s why each player can discover something different.

Here’s something else: Khalifé, Schumacher, and Tristano’s CD, Afrodiziak, marks the rebirth of one of Europe’s most renowned jazz labels. The album is being released by MPS, the legendary recording company located in Germany’s Black Forest. Between 1968 and 1983 MPS set the standard for recording quality and artistic autonomy. Over the years since then, with limited releases of select treasures from its archives, the label has essentially existed as a source for collectors and specialists. Now MPS is once again moving forward with new projects – and artists such as KhalifeScumacherristano, who with their new sounds and ideas are pointing the way towards the future.