2020 Biamp PDX Jazz Festival and OMSI present Dan Tepfer Natural Machines
March 1 | 8:30 pm- $30
In an age of unprecedented technological advancement, Dan Tepfer is changing the definition of what a musical instrument can be. Featured in an NPR documentary with over 1.5 million views, Tepfer shows his pioneering skill by programming a Yamaha Disklavier to respond in real time to the music he improvises at the piano. Meanwhile, another computer program turns the music into stunning animated visual art projected onto the planetarium dome. Called “fascinating and ingenious” by Rolling Stone, the Natural Machines performance lives at a deeply unique intersection of mechanical and organic processes, making it “more than a solo piano album… a multimedia piece of contemporary art so well made in its process and components and expressed by such a thoughtful, talented, evocative pianist… that it becomes a complete experience.” — NextBop
Tepfer has made a name for himself as a pianist-composer of wide-ranging ambition, individuality and drive — “a remarkable musician” in the words of the Washington Post and one “who refuses to set himself limits” in those of France’s Télérama. The New York City-based Tepfer, born in 1982 in Paris to American parents, has performed with some of the leading lights in jazz, including extensively with veteran saxophone luminary Lee Konitz. As a leader, Tepfer has crafted a discography already striking for its breadth and depth, ranging from probing solo improvisation and intimate duets to richly layered trio albums of original compositions. His Sunnyside/Naïve album Goldberg Variations / Variations saw the prize-winning pianist performing J.S. Bach’s masterpiece as well as improvising upon it to “build a bridge across centuries and genres” (Wall Street Journal) in “an impressive feat that keeps coming back to a hearty and abiding respect” (New York Times).
As a composer, he is a recipient of the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for works including Concerto for Piano and Winds, premiered in the Prague Castle with himself on piano, and Solo Blues for Violin and Piano, premiered at Carnegie Hall. Bringing together his undergraduate studies in astrophysics with his passion for music, his groundbreaking multimedia project Natural Machines integrates computer-driven algorithms into his improvisational process. Awards include first prize and audience prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition, first prize at the East Coast Jazz Festival Competition, and the Cole Porter Fellowship from the American Pianists Association.
According to Tepfer, “Natural Machines is a project where I explore the intersection, in music, between natural and mechanical processes. I improvise at the piano, and programs I’ve written on my computer interact with me in real-time as I’m playing, both musically and visually. I’m playing on the Yamaha Disklavier. It’s an acoustic piano with extra abilities: when I play, it sends data to my computer, and when my computer sends it data, it plays by moving the keys on its own. The sound the computer makes, through the piano, is exactly the same sound that I make myself. In Natural Machines, instead of composing a piece, I decide the way a piece works. I program simple rules for the computer to follow when responding to what I play. Since I’m improvising, I’m always listening to what the computer is playing and responding to it as well. So the rules end up affecting me, too.”
Natural Machines video album on YouTube:
NPR Tiny Desk Concert: