Johannes Tonio Kreusch – Times of Joy

Release: 03.11.2023

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Johannes Tonio Kreusch – guitar
Giora Feidman – clarinet
Badi Assad –
Andrew York – guitar
Antigoni Goni
– guitar
Máximo Diego Pujol – guitar
Cornelius Claudio Kreusch – piano
Mulo Francel – soprano saxophone
D.D. Lowka – double bass

“Times of Joy”, these are for Johannes Tonio Kreusch for many years his experiences as a guitarist and musician. A joy that – it is often forgotten – wanted to be hard-earned. Johannes Tonio Kreusch first studied philosophy, until the clarity and beauty of the sounds of Johann Sebastian Bach finally led him to the guitar and to classical guitar studies in Salzburg and New York.

He counters the almost egomaniacal soloism and the constricting genre purity of the classical scene with a holistic approach. As a journeyman’s piece, so to speak, he reinterpreted the guitar music of Heitor Villa-Lobos on his debut album by delving deeply into the sources and manuscripts of this brilliant Brazilian composer. Then he experimented with the guitar sound and found the way to improvisation with the help of his brother, the jazz pianist Cornelius Claudio Kreusch – with whom he congenially complements each other to this day. Finally, as artistic director of the guitar festivals in Hersbruck and Wertingen as well as the Ottobrunn concerts, he opened the door for the guitar as wide as hardly anyone before: open to style and genre.

Because for Johannes Tonio Kreusch, that is the basis of his “Times of Joy”: the encounter. The conversation about and through music. So the title “Times of Joy” of his new album is understood correctly: it is a collection of the most beautiful of these encounters, almost a quintessence of his musical work to date. Captured preferably in duets with outstanding figures who accompanied him part of the way.

This round dance begins in a fulminant way. In a duet with the grandiose Greek guitarist Antigoni Goni, a friend from New York times, two racy pieces from “Giaconda’s Smile”, one of the most famous albums – produced in New York in 1965 by none other than Quincy Jones – by the Greek Oscar-winning composer Manos Hadjidakis are heard. A firework of elegance, virtuosity and richness of sound – arranged by Tulio Peramo-Cabrera, one of the most important Cuban composers, who is one of Kreusch’s oldest musical companions and has written many works for him.

It is just as compelling when Johannes Tonio Kreusch accompanies the clarinet of the unique Giora Feidman. First on the traditional “Bublitschki” in the usual gesture of the “Klezmer King” Feidman; but then also on Angel Villoldo’s tango classic “El Choclo” and Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5”, which also brings out the Latin American side of the Argentine-born Feidman. As well as Kreusch’s great fondness for the Latin American and Afro-Caribbean musical cosmos that has always filled him.

So it is logical that Kreusch plays the following duet with the important Argentine guitarist and composer Máximo Diego Pujol, also a longtime companion who has already written several compositions for Kreusch. The two duo partners sensitively interpret two of Pujol’s compositions, the “Stella Australis”, which is almost filled with melancholy and turns into a wild Western soundtrack, and the lyrical and meditative “Sombrio”.  Finally, there is an enchanting and touching arrangement of “El Ultimo Café”, a tango classic by Hector Stamponi and Cátulo Castillo.  At least as touching is “Consciencia” – the joint piece of the Kreusch brothers with the congenial Brazilian singer Badi Assad.

Johannes Tonio Kreusch’s duet with Grammy winner Andrew York, the star of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, who has also been associated with him for many years, and his classically modern composition “Sanzen-in”, which spills over into pop, takes us back to classical music once again. In any case, Kreusch creates the perfect transitions and connections between musical worlds in between. Starting with “From East To West”, a hit of the Kreusch brothers, where the woodwind player, Quadro Nuevo boss and GLM label colleague Mulo Francel joins in. Then with very different solo pieces: the floatingly philosophical “River Talk,” which Kreusch plays on baritone guitar; the “Chôros No. 1” by Villa-Lobos, with which Kreusch once again returns to his beginnings; the dramatic “Lloran Las Ramas Del Viento” by Atahualpa Yupanqui, perhaps the greatest Argentine songwriter of the 20th century as a contemplative conclusion; and centrally, in the middle of the album with the exuberantly effervescent title track “Times Of Joy”.

All facets of the guitar, captured with world stars from all generations and genres – with this al-bum Johannes Tonio Kreusch also provides the listener with a time of pure joy.


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