by Anne Carlini
|Title – The Vienna Sessions
Artist – Markus Burger
For those not in the know, Markus Burger is a German-born concert pianist, composer, and educator based in Los Angeles.In developing his signature sound over the years, Burger drew his influences from a wide range of musical styles, including J.S. Bach, Claude Debussy, Keith Jarrett, Lyle Mays, George Winston, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Esbjörn Svensson.His musical output has been documented in fifteen albums, from his solo piano works Ultreya and just-released The Vienna Sessions (Challenge Reords), to his longstanding duo project, with saxophonist Jan von Klewitz, Spiritual Standards.
Additionally, his albums include his critically acclaimed Accidental Tourists jazz project, featuring jazz legends Bob Magnusson, on bass, and Peter Erskine on drums.
In August 2019, I had the privilege of spending two afternoons in Vienna, the music capital of Europe, recording, Burger reveals. I traveled to Vienna with my friend and producer, Jim Linahon, to spend two days recording in the Bösendorfer piano showroom, courtesy of Ferdinand Bräu. Vienna has been my favorite European city for a long time.
And I have been a fan of Bösendorfer pianos since studying at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany, where I fell in love with the sound of this amazing instrument.
For the past 20 years, I have visited Vienna many times, and have played in various ensembles around this beautiful capital of Austria. Vienna has always had a distinct impact on me.
The city’s people, their humor, elegance, and joy, are like few other places I’ve been. While recording, I enjoyed exploring the sound of the piano, especially in the upper register.
I also chose to improvise in a minimal way to let the instrument guide me on a musical stroll. I found my time in Vienna relaxing, inspiring, and deeply spiritual.
1. Daybreak (3:40)
This simply beautiful, free flowingly decadent new album opens on the diaphanous Daybreak and the poignant pulse of Morning Mist and follows them up with the free-flowing nature of A Knight’s Tale, the magical ebb and flow of Along The Creek, the wistful Café Mozart, the gentle yearn of Harmonic Stroll, and then we get the quietly dulcet Cibelle’s Lullaby and the poignant Doom and Gloom.
Up next is the gently euphoric O Great Love and the melodically unrestrained Fall Days which are in turn followed by the dainty An Afternoon in Vienna, the crystalline nature of Dulcimer, the organic Silent Lament, the warm embrace of Renaissance Romance, the album rounding out on the softly playful Merry Gathering Before Walking Home, coming to a rousing close on the harmonious Rejoicing.
Burger, a native of the Moselle River Valley in Germany, started playing the piano at age six and soon became interested in improvising based on classical music.
He later was introduced by his uncle (an avid jazz pianist himself) to the improvisational styles of Errol Garner, Oscar Peterson, and Thelonious Monk.
Burger graduated in jazz piano and composition from the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany. He went on to earn a graduate degree in piano performance from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.
During his formative years in Cologne, Germany, Burger released two albums with his jazz quartet, Septer Bourbon, earning him European accolades as a pianist and composer. He earned a finalist slot in the European Jazz Composition Competition in Monaco.
His duo Spiritual Standards with fellow Septer Bourbon saxophonist, Jan von Klewitz, hit the German Top 20 charts in 1999. Their collaboration has since taken the duo worldwide, performing their unique crossover project to sold-out audiences across Europe, Russia, North and South America.
Burger has worked with Albert Mangelsdorff, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winston, Peter Erskine, Bob Magnusson, Joe Labarbera, John Tchiccai, Cecil Payne, Jim Linahon, Marshall Hawkins, Paul Kreibich, Sherry Williams, Michael Schiefel, among many others.
In December 2021, Burger was inducted into the family of Bösendorfer pianists by Artist Manager Ferdinand Bräu.
Markus Burger is a full-time music professor at Fullerton College and a lecturer for the graduate jazz piano and composition program at San Diego State University.