"Listening to Thollem McDonas play the piano is an astonishing experience. He has an innate ability to compose transcendent music using the piano as his expressive voice and to explore the depth and range of the instrument like no one else. Meeting At The Parting Place will take you on journeys across varied landscapes that flow effortlessly from one to the next — somehow emerging logically even in their unpredictability. Thollem creates a spectacular tapestry of different colored sounds reflecting his awareness, study and assimilation of countless influences. In Terry Riley’s own words, Thollem McDonas is ‘a true original'." - from the liner notes by Joan Jeanrenaud, Composer, Cellist
(Kronos Quartet cellist 1978-98)
"Thollem is a modern griot who has absorbed sounds from every place he has visited, and, like a plant, he leaves seeds that find soil and grow as beautiful sound memories for the listener."
- William Parker
Official release dates:
Europe end of September, U.S. Oct. 14th
- Brad Cohan, NYC Jazz Record
"transforms 88 keys into
texturally staggering ensemble."
- Detroit Metro Times
"endless worlds of possibility"
- J. Lawrence, Columbia Free Times
"One of the most captivating
pianists working today"
- Rui Eduardo Paes, Jazz.pt
"An attractively extreme viewpoint. Unreal linear explosions"
- Greg Burk, LA Times
Video by Charles Smith - Concert for Terry Riley's 80th birthday
Video by ACVilla - Jazzers Festival in Ponte Delgado, Portugal
More about Meeting At The Parting Place:
This album represents the convergence of a wide variety of approaches to the piano, beginning with my multi-cultural, childhood in the south S.F. Bay Area to the vast array of musical approaches and experiences that have colored and defined my life. Distilled uniquely for this recording, this album articulates both integrations and collisions as these influences percolate up and converse with each other in a multitude of ways. In addition to the variety of techniques stemming from my classical training, 20th century piano music and the many varieties of the diverse music we call Jazz, you may also hear elements of the sonic cultures of Punk Rock, marching bands, taiko drumming, gamelan, Country and Western, music from Mexico, Persia, India, East and West Africa, Native American and Ireland.
My two main influences as a pianist have been European concert music - from the Renaissance to the 20th century - and Jazz, particularly of the ‘60s and ‘70s. As a child, I recognized commonalities central to these traditions: they are both difficult to define, incredibly varied from one era to the next, propelled by new revolutionary ideas, absorbing the sounds and elements of musics with which they come into contact, and responding to their socio-political times/events. I have always been inspired by new experiences and eclecticism, rebelling against convention, synthesizing my life and influences into my work as a composer and improviser.
The overall approach to this recording was inspired by a concert I played a month before, in celebration of Terry Riley's 80th birthday. Through the process of preparing conceptually for that concert, I realized how important my experiences growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area were to my development as a person and an artist: the West Coast composers including Terry Riley with his endless thirst of curiosity, and Lou Harrison, whom I knew growing up, with whom I studied and in whose Gamelan ensemble I played; Kronos Quartet and the Cabrillo Music Festival who were pushing the boundaries of chamber and orchestral music; Kuumbwa Jazz Club, where early on I heard pianists such as McCoy Tyner and Toshiko Akiyoshi as well as Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones, plus the incredible variety of people that migrated to the area, bringing their sounds with them.
I hope listeners approach this album with a sense of curiosity and adventure, of wonderment at the mystery of it all, ready for a challenge and to be shaken awake to their own moment and to each other.