" I'm not sure performing solo was an actual aesthetic choice, I think it was more circumstantial. Situations would arise where I couldn't get the lineup I wanted for some music I had composed, or a project would be too complicated to organize with several people involved so I ended up doing it myself. That was the case with my first solo album. Thinking back, I was self-taught early on and probably due to a combination of ignorance and imagination always wrote tunes for whatever band I was in. At 16 I started studying classical guitar formally and took it quite seriously. A few years later I heard fingerstyle Blues guitar legend Big Joe Williams play solo live and up close. That all might have had something to do with it." - Sten Hostfalt
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Since having honed his solo performance skills the old-fashioned way by
performing solo on the streets of Paris and Copenhagen in the mid-1980's,
and soon thereafter representing the format academically in a Berklee
College of Music Berklee Performance Center Outstanding Musicianship
the art of the solo performance 'a performer's ultimate
challenge and final frontier' according to legendary avantgarde Jazz
pioneer and mentor Paul Bley, has remained a particularly suitable,
personal creative setting and format for Sten Hostfalt.
A circumstance most recently illustrated by his November 2014, solo concert
world premiere of his original work 'Four New Microtonal Pieces'
Encontre de Compositors Festival, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
staged at the
Fundacio' Pilar i Joan Miro' the last home of iconoclast painter Joan Miro'.
While solo appearances that preceded this event included two 2010-11 solo
concerts at New York City's Symphony Space, in which the program focused
on reharmonized and otherwise ( microtonally or not ) transformed Jazz
standards, the solo concert performance that crystallized and manifested
the format as unique for Hostfalt was the 2002 solo concert recorded CD
'29 Pieces For The Microtonal Guitar Live at Knitting Factory New York '
Focusing on Hostfalt's translation of mentor visionary microtonal composer
Joe Maneri's 72-note Equal Tempered Virtual Continuum, the work was very
successful despite a tight budget and a limited first edition pressing of (since
long sold out )
and thanks to a musicians network masterfully
recorded and produced and very well-received by audience and critics alike.
Larry Cosentino of Signal To Noise Magazine described the work as 'Among the most riveting explorations of the microtonal world ever recorded, its fine focus of detail and beauty puts the cycle in a class with John Cage's exquisite ' Sonatas and Preludes for Prepared Piano' Don Williamson of Jazz Review wrote 'Sten Hostfalt has developed his own repertoire incorporating microtones, a genuinely innovative approach, in the future 29 Microtonal Pieces may be considered a groundbreaking work'. While All about Jazz' John Kelman elaborated 'Sten Hostfalt takes the rigid confines of the Guitar and transforms it into an instrument capable of exploring the minute spaces between traditional notes by using altered tunings, mechanical preparations and Electronically enhanced techniques. The result, 29 Pieces for the Microtonal Guitar, is an intriguing recording that shows just how far an instrument can be bent and altered to meet a more experimental and adventurous need, taking you on a journey to a place where rules simply don't exist. For those with ears broad enough to allow for the possibility that music can extend beyond the expected, and expand the potent boundaries of experience."
Following 29 Pieces and in conjunction with a microtonal music lecture at Berklee College of Music, Hostfalt recorded a solo set at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Boston
and released it as 'Macroscope' ( not to be confused with a few releases with similar or even the same title, including guitarist Nels Cline's 2014 quartet CD ). The album that contained a more developed use of electronics than '29 Pieces' was after being mixed and mastered by Doug Henderson ( Devendra Banhardt, Swans, Anthony & The Johnsons ) shelved due to lack of financial resources for suitable promotion.
Solo concerts preceding and/or following 'Macroscope' took place at New York City's The C-Note, Casey Block's Eat Records, The Lucky Cat, Freddy's Backroom, The Issue Project Room and C.O.M.A at ABC No Rio and would eventually lead to the involvement of other performers to interpret the microtonal solo work in various duo, trio and quartet settings ( see duos and trios/quartets respectively ).
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