CD Release: Best of 1st International Jazz Solo Piano Festival 2009


We are very happy to announce the release of our first CD: Best of 1st International Jazz Solo Piano Festival 2009.

Liner Notes by Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association and senior contributor DOWNBEAT Magazine:
Mathias Claus, Bob Albanese and Ayako Shirasaki are devoted, virtuosic, daring and expressive pianists, who together assured that personal, spontaneous interpretation of classic repertoire was the focus of the 1st International Jazz Solo Piano Festival. …

Best of 1st International Jazz Solo Piano Festival 2009 institutes a high standard for international solo jazz piano

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CD review - Cadence 7-8-9/2010 Magazine

press review

Cadence 7-8-9/2010 Magazine, pgs. 158-159.

David Dupont.

“This recording is a thoroughly enjoyable tribute to mainstream Jazz solo piano. Truly international—Claus is German, Albanese American, and Shirasaki Japanese—the session celebrates the Jazz of mid-century America. “Lennie’s Pennies” opens with a chorus of “Pennies from Heaven” done in old-time fashion stride before slipping into the Tristano head; heady territory to light upon, but she -Ayako Shirasaki- handles it with admirable aplomb obviously echoing Tristano’s own solo style in spots, but moving far, far beyond imitation. The performance is an ebullient end to a party for piano lovers.”

©Cadence Magazine 2010. ph: 315-287-2852

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CD review - Los Angeles Jazz Scene 03.2010

press review

Los Angeles Jazz Scene, March 2010.

Scott Yanow.

“There is lots to enjoy throughout this superior release, available from All three pianists deserve to be well known in the jazz world and hopefully there will be many more releases in this series as rewarding as this one.”

Click here to read the full review.


CD review - Concerto magazine - February / March 2010

press review

Concerto - Austrian Jazz Magazine, February / March 2010, page 55

5 out of 5 points - excellent

Juri Giannini. “Recorded live at Berlin’s Konzerthaus in May 2009, this CD presents highlights of a newly-established festival. With three tracks each, the pianists Mathias Claus from Germany, Bob Albanese from America and the Japanese pianist Ayako Shirasaki are represented: three very interesting exponents of the international jazz piano, who are classified in the mainstream of modern jazz. The CD is certainly a reason to educate oneself more intensively with these artists, because with only three compositions one only gets a hasty and episodic impression.

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CD review -

press review, Monday, February 15, 2010 - 06:04 PM

Edward Blanco.

“Three master pianists and three extraordinary performances in one striking musical package, the Best of 1st International Jazz Solo Piano Festival 2009 is a must recording for jazz aficionados with an appreciation of classical jazz. Mathias Claus, Bob Albanese and Ayako Shirasaki transform the beauty solo piano with superb technique and unquestioned talent reflective in the graceful music this first festival has produced.”

Click here to read the full review.

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CD Review - Jazz-Quadrat - February 2010

press review

Jazz-Quadrat (Russia and baltic states), February 2010 issue.

Leonid Auskern. “The New York jazz expert Howard Mandel, president of The Jazz Journalists Association, who wrote the liner notes to this album, is likely the best-known project participant. The pianists Mathias Claus, Bob Albanese and Ayako Shirasaki participated at the 1st International Jazz Solo Piano Festival, which was organized by the agency Jan Matthies Music Management in March 2009 in Germany. These artists do not belong to the highest class of jazz piano, but this in no way diminishes neither their qualities, nor the importance of the project. Would this have been different, Mandel hadn’t shown interest in this album.

The festival consists of 3 concerts, which took place in Hamburg, Munich and Berlin. All 3 artists played in each of these cities on beautiful Steinway concert grands. The Berlin concert of 28 March was the centerpiece of this CD which represents each artist with 3 tracks. Such “mini-set” gives us the opportunity to judge the artistic achievement of the pianists and their uniqueness. The musicians from 3 different countries and 3 continents confess their love for jazz, which was created in America. In addition, the German artist Claus attended the famous Berklee School and the Japanese Shirasaki performs in America today. Every musician has its uniqueness.

Mathias Claus sees himself both as a successor to the jazz tradition, as well as a supporter of the european classical school. This is particularly evident in the piece -Hymn for the Lost Souls-. The set of American Bob Albanese consists of a Rogers-Hart standard -Manhattan-, an intellectual etude by Bill Evans -Time Remembered- and his own composition. He showed himself as a very powerful talent for improvisation with a rich imagination. The pianist Ayako Shirasaki, who started her program with works of completely different kinds of jazz giants as Dizzy Gillespie and Lennie Tristano, had with her feminine intuition, the right approach to the music of these jazz genius. The album generally gave a very pleasant impression, and we hope that we will be introduced to many interesting jazz artists with future concerts of this series.”

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“World class” - Concert Review - CD Release Tour for “Best of 1st International Jazz Solo Piano Festival 2009″

press review

Jazzthetik - German Jazz Magazine, Dec. 2009, page 66

Nabil Atassi. “Improvisation, interpretation or composition? This question arises from the possibility of being able to experience the jazz pianist Ayako Shirasaki on two consecutive evenings with completely different formations. The conditions of the two concerts in Hamburg could not be more different: On the first evening at the jazz club, even at the ground in trio, on the next evening solo, solemnly on the stage of the baroque Hamburger Laeiszhalle.

Day 1, the Trio in the Jazz Club “Stellwerk” Hamburg-Harburg. Only for a brief moment, the appearance of the graceful Japanese woman gives the impression that it would be a quiet concert. She starts the program with two standards, lays claim to groove. Her two sidemen from Hamburg, Philipp Steen (b) and Kai Bussenius (dr), two young wild ones in suits with sneakers, helping her to do so. The pianist had deliberately decided for the two in advance of her tour of northern Germany: “I have been listening to both their profiles on the internet - and they just fitted perfectly with my style!” A good decision. While Ayako with clear play, technically brilliant, sometimes lightly swinging, sometimes ponderous, festive and lyrical narrative with a gentle look (not without a certain degree of severity) dictates the direction, the two go to work accentuated, sometimes a little wooden, but full of verve and give the concert a certain youthful, sometimes even pleasantly rough charm. Shirasaki varies between standards and original compositions, pilots her sidemen, who now really got it going, gracefully through the set to the point of “Airegin” by Sonny Rollins, the musical highlight of the evening (and the opener of her CD “Existence” from 2003). Now, all three musicians rush focused through the fast-paced piece, one solo chasing the next one – until all three let loose their improvisational drive in the final and in doing so sound like a real New York jazz piano trio. Conclusion: Surprisingly loud and surprisingly wild!

Day 2, Shirasaki solo in Studio E of the Laeiszhalle. In the noble ambience of the room arises a solemn, somewhat tense concertante atmosphere. Exactly here Shirasaki seems to be in her element, looking at her smile of satisfaction at the resolution of the first chords. Already at the opening piece, a composition by Billy Strayhorn, it is clear that this evening would not be a dynamic replica of yesterday. Virtuoso and very focused Shirasaki creates a huge sound, which combines jazz and elements of classical solo piano performance. She modulates, accentuates, but doesn’t quite manage it to reach the freshness of the previous evening. “Solo is a stoic affair, you have to make everything yourself. It means freedom, but as well much responsibility.”, says the pianist. Perhaps that’s why Shirasaki today performs more as an interpreter than as a composer. Standard to standard, Shirasaki’s own compositions almost don’t take place. In the second set, she shows that solo jazz piano can be great art and tells with the lyric “Falling Leaves” the gladly listened to story of an autumn afternoon in New York City. She ends the concert with an incredible medley of no less than three standards requested by the audience. World class.

On two evenings in Hamburg, one could experience two different facets of a very interesting pianist. When asked about her way forward, she sees herself more than an improviser and interpreter than as a composer. In any way she is definitely easy to like and left her audience, despite the musical differences on both nights, into the autumn evening with the comforting feeling of just having heard really good music.

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Thank you to the visitors of the festival 2009!


The 1st International Jazz Solo Piano Festival began in Munich with a warm-up concert for the three pianists. The Steinway-Haus Hamburg reported already sold out and the final at the Konzerthaus Berlin was attended by 250 piano enthusiasts. A great evening with international flair, many foreign diplomats were in the house. A lot of enthusiasm was generated and the jazz piano lovers showed their appreciation in a very dedicated way.

Bob Albanese, photographer Patrick Wamsganz

Ayako Shirasaki, photographer Patrick Wamsganz

Mathias Claus, photographer Patrick Wamsganz

Of course, many thanks to our cooperation partners, Steinway-Haus München, Steinway-Haus Hamburg, Steinway-Haus Berlin, Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion GmbH, Jazzthetik and Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann, but also to our visitors. Thank you for helping with your attendance to make a vision come true.

We are looking forward to see you again next year.
Yours Jan Matthies

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CD Raffle


We appreciate the great participation in our raffle, where the visitors of the festival could win a best-of CD of the concert on the 28th March 2009 in the Konzerthaus Berlin. We received the master CD and hurry to have it produced. Would you like to be kept up to date? Subscribe to our newsletter by clicking on the “newsletter” button top right of this page and follow the further steps; now on to the winners …

CD’s were won by:

München 26.03.
1. Stefan H. from 85579 Neubiberg
2. Gabriela K. from 81243 München
3. Heinz K. from 80686 München

Hamburg 27.03.
1. Paul M. R. from 21493 Schwarzenbek
2. E. M. from 22941 Jersbek
3. Beata S. from 20255 Hamburg

Berlin 28.03.
1. Wolf D. O. from 81241 München
2. Leo S. from 14169 Berlin
3. Regina L. from 13465 Berlin

The winners were notified by e-mail. Congratulations, yours Jan Matthies

P.S.: some comments from the raffle forms:
“Unbelievable performance! Thanks so much to the three artists.”
“Bravo to the pianists and to the fantastic sound of the Steinway grand piano.”
“The lovely atmosphere alone is worth the visit.”
“Three totally different personalities -> high class.”

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Welcome to the
International Jazz Solo Piano Festival 2009!




One Steinway & Sons concert grand
Three pianists
Ayako Shirasaki (JP)
Bob Albanese (USA)
Mathias Claus (D)


The virtuosic performing jazz solo pianist can be sure to get the full attention and admiration of the audience, if he as “One-Man-Orchestra”, because of his perfect mastery of the instrument and his improvisational skills, is able to feature the entire sonority of the 88 keys. In the case of success, Jazz Piano is not inferior to the classical piano and free to share the major concert stages.

Experience three experts of this genre on one evening.

Three different swing bound jazz styles and approaches of pianists from three different continents are promising an entertaining evening on the highest level.

In addition to originals of the pianists you will be hearing standards like “Someday My Prince Will Come” or Monks “Ugly Beauty”, without having to abdicate the fundamental element of jazz: improvisation!

Enjoy the three pianists on Steinway & Sons concert grands as benchmark of uncompromising standard.

We would be pleased to welcome you!

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