Nicole Heartseeker & Mulo Francel – Moon River

Release: 24.11.2023

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Nicole Heartseeker – piano, organ
Mulo Francel – tenor sax, alto sax, clarinet

In their brand new fourth album, the duo Nicole Heartseeker & Mulo Francel offer a new perspective on the Great American Songbook when its melodies sound like Chopin or Erik Satie. When “Fly me to the Moon” dances a nocturnal waltz with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, when “Lullaby of Birdland” unfolds a baroque flair. A new listening experience is created when a piano refreshes these old hits with classical patterns and a saxophone flavors them with elegant jazz improvisations.

In their album Forever Young, released in 2021, the duo ventured into an artistic dialogue across stylistic and temporal boundaries by improvising on old masters. Composers from Handel and Bach to Schubert and Piazzolla were given a whole new listening perspective and emerged from a musical fountain of youth.

Now the two musicians turn the tables: melodies from jazz, from the American Songbook, songs by Joe Cocker or Freddie Mercury enter a seemingly contrary world of sound: classical, cautiously striding and atmospherically wide open.

Pianist Nicole Heartseeker describes her idea for the new album Moon River:
“I find it exciting to combine different musical worlds. Exciting, even in ever-greens like Fly me to the Moon, to merge the genres of jazz and classical. To put them in an unusual light and then to experience how strong the points of contact can be.“

Saxophonist Mulo Francel reports:
“Many of the songs on our new album have been familiar to me since my youth. They were on the jazz records of my father, who died at an early age. Later I played them myself and improvised on them, as is usual for a saxophonist with jazz standards.
But now I am rediscovering them. Nicole arranges them in a classical style. To do that, we changed the harmonies and the rhythmic structure. I like the challenge of leaving the beaten track and having to reinvent the way I play.“

Nicole Heartseeker began playing the organ as a junior student and continued her master class studies in harpsichord and piano. She placed an emphasis on the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Max Reger, and the preservation of historical musical traditions. During her intensive study of sacred organ music, she developed the desire to transfer this specific art of music-making to the piano. After her training as a classical musician, Nicole Heartseeker realized increasingly unusual projects. With her unique blend of classical, jazz and world music, she defies the usual notions of genre boundaries..

Mulo Francel is a saxophonist and globetrotter.
He is also known as the creative whirlwind of the ensemble Quadro Nuevo.  For many years, the multiple ECHO award winner has been traveling the countries of the world playing. From Bavaria to the Balkans to Bolivia and Buenos Aires. Concert tours have taken him from Hong Kong to the opera house in Cairo to New York’s Carnegie Hall. Over the years, he has developed his own authentic style of playing world music. His unmistakable style explores the border areas between tango, classical music, jazz and improvisation.

Mulo Francel has given over 4,000 concerts worldwide and has received numerous awards, such as the ECHO Jazz for the best live act, the German Record Critics’ Prize and the Golden Record for the Quadro Nuevo album Mocca Flor. The magazine Kulturnews attributed to him the “currently most sensual saxophone sound in Europe”.

Together, Heartseeker and Francel have been experimenting in an encounter of sacred music, classical music and improvisation since 2007.

The duo’s debut, Angel Affair, was released in 2009 as an album for saxophone and church organ that received much praise in the trade press. In the following years numerous concerts followed.

In 2021 the album Forever Young was released: An artistic dialogue across style and time boundaries. A saxophone and a piano communicate with the old masters and put a youthful smile on their faces with fresh improvisations.

In 2022 the duo released That’s Amore, arrangements of old Italian canzoni and southern songs.


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