Pianist, Improviser, Composer
Anormalidad is a compilation of 18 new originals compositions made by swiss pianist and composer Laurent Nicoud. There were composed during three years between 2018-2021 and toured through Germany, Switzerland and Ukraine. Most of the compositions are through composed excepting “Gentle Daemon” which is totally written and the 4 improvisations that were directly improvised during the recording session. The 18 tracks were recorded in January 2021 at the Menuhin Forum in Bern on a Steinway D.
The opening track “Blooming” was the last composition during the process of creating those pieces. It’s a delicate major arpeggio melody composed to introduce the 2nd piece Contradiction, an ostinato based on a rythm in 13.
Then Anormalidad (the title album track) is the longest one because of its evolution too. Firstly, I was inspired by spanish musicians that I played with in 2019 for a festival and it became very clear since the beginning that I had this first melody and rythm in 7 doing some echos to hispanic vibe. . Then after playing it many times live it evolved and during some of live takes I developped this idea around the note Eb that became the intro on the recording. I always loved deeply and was touched by the flamenco and spanish music since I was a kid. I’ll definitely try toexplore more in the future in that direction. So it’s kind of a first intro step for it.
Track 4 “First snow” was composed in Basel on a beautiful Bösendorfer the 1.12.2020 where it was snowing everywhere. I was simply facing a window where I saw this snow very early in the morning before going teaching.
Who is the Disturbed player is kind of hommage/tribute to the creativity of Jacob Sacks, one of my mentor and teacher in New York and to the madness in this city.
“Gentle Daemon” is the only totally written composition. In 2019 I was asked to compose some chamber music for a festival in Mürren (swiss alps) for some talented young russian musicians oming from Saint-Petersburg and playing classical music at a very high level. After this experience I was interested to study more some orchestration to write some orchestral music and was fascinated by the Firebird’s Berceuse of Stravinsky and its bassoon solo. So then I tried to capture this orchestral way of thinking in my tune.
“May the stars always burn into your sky” was inspired by a russian poem “Farewell and Goodbye” by Alexander Brodsky that a friend of mine violinist gave me after a concert that we played together.
“Alfara” in arabic means happiness and was one of the last song composed at the end of 2020 just before the recording session. This song was created very fast in few minutes like an improvisation.
“Ostinato 8” was composed in Amsterdam at a friend’s place on his grand piano. The rythm was given by my girlfriend when we sat down together at his piano lately at night and then I build this ostinato around it. I started few years before my first recording Outline a series of Ostinatos compositions where I’m trying not to use the sustain pedal and to have a consisitant melody and structure. For now, I published only the 3rd one (on my albums Outline and Substrate) and now the 8th. One day the goal would be to record all of them as a book of pieces.
“Body Fusion “ and “ The last of this” were two of the very first compositions part of that album that I did at the end of 2018. I have a moleskine book that was offered by my grilfriend when I moved to New York in 2017 where I wrote all my tunes daily. The last of this was the last composition of this 1st book.
“ Body Fusion” started with different chords that you’ll here in the recording but in the middle of the compositional process, it became obvious that I wanted to keep the melodic G minor motivs.
The last track “Flirting with Danger” was one of the last that I composed just before Christmas 2020. It’s also dedicated to Jacob Sacks one of my teacher in New York and probably one of the most inspiring musicians I’ve ever had the chance to lean from in terms of creativity and pushing your limits every day. We had a zoom session that day where he told me he was going deeper during the lockdown in stride music by studying deeply Willie the Lion Smith and some Art Tatum and Earl Hines stuff. At a certain moment during our discussion he mentionned this idea of “flirting with danger” in the playing of Smith. I loved this idea and went directly after the zoom to compose what became “Flirting with Danger”.
Finally and in addition of those compositions I started in the middle of the recording session a series of improvised tracks (5 at all and we kept only 4 for the recording that’s why it starts directly with Improvisation 2). The goal was to bring some freshness and new ideas for the rest of the session. That’s an experiment that my friend saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis told me and that we did also during the recording session of Substrate, our duo album. I explored there some free, latin and melodic elements.
Pianist and composer Laurent Nicoud (1991) finds a personal way to create his own music through all of his musical identities from classical piano tradition to jazz and modern improvisation. 2020 was an important year with the release of his first solo album Outline (QFTF) presenting twelve originals compositions recorded and created during his living time in New York. All About Jazz said “Laurent Nicoud has thoughtful touch that gives weight to every individual notes” where Jazz Podium said “Subtil music with hymnal and traditionnal folk music quality”. In February 2022 was published Substrate (Unit Records) his second album. This is a duo with US Brooklyn based Alto Saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis. Jazz Thing described it as “They cultivate a close creative communication, enjoy the competence of being able to call up the entire legacy of jazz modernity” and All about Jazz said “Substrate brings to mind duos that that a first glance may have appeared as long shots liek Ralph Towner/Gary Burton or Joe Lovano/Gonzalo Rubalcaba.”. Laurent Nicoud is constantly exploring his musical journey by composing and playing with new musicians from jazz and modern improvised music worlds. His third album as a soloist will be published by the end of 2022.
Born in 1991 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, pianist, improviser and composer Laurent Nicoud lives at the junction of classical music, jazz and improvisation. He expresses himself in solo piano setting, duo, trio, as a soloist with symphony orchestra and chamber music in jazz as well as classical music. After studying classical music in Neuchâtel and Geneva, he continued his musical career in New York.
He began playing piano with a private teacher at the age of 6. In 2001, he returned to the conservatory in the class of bulgarian teacher Veneziela Naydedova.
From then on he performed for the first time with the Stravaganza string orchestra in 2003 at the age of 12 in a concerto rondo by Mozart. The following year he gave his first recital with works ranging from Bach to Debussy, Gubaïdulina. In 2007, he entered a university course at the HEM in Geneva in the class of Sylviane Deferne where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree 3 years later. In 2010, he performed for the first time with a symphony orchestra as a soloist with the Orchestra of the HEM in Geneva in a work by the Swiss composer Frank Martin. In 2012 he obtained his Master’s degree and became the youngest professor at the Geneva Conservatory. He will perform several solo performances at the Victoria Hall in Geneva, performing Gershwin’s FA concerto with the Geneva Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Hervé Klopfenstein and Beethoven’s 3rd 4th concerto with the Neue Zürcher Orchester Bern under the baton of Martin Studer. He will also perform chamber music in duets, trios and larger groups.
In parallel with his classical education he has always approached music from an early age through improvisation that led him to discover jazz. He formed his first group and trio at the Lycée Denis-de Rougemont where they played standards and later his own compositions. They will perform on multiple occasions for high school, university and other ceremonies organized by the UBS Bank for example. In 2016 he performed solo for radio espace 2 in a show dedicated to Bach’s well-tempered keyboard, where he performed live two preludes and fugues from the 2nd book.
In 2017 and 2018 he lives in New York where he studies with Jacob Sacks (New School for Jazz) and Shai Maestro. During this period he had the opportunity to deepen the work of jazz composition and made many musical encounters. He will begin to perform regularly in different formations. He formed a trio with Noah Garabedian on double bass (playing regularly with Ravi Coltrane) and Alex Feldman on drums. He also plays a duet with Caleb Curits (saxophone) and Alex Hamburger (flute).
In July 2019, his first chamber music work “into the old city” (a piano-violin duet in three movements) was premiered in Mürren (Bernese Oberland) and Zürich during the “Internationales SommerAkademie” where he was invited for the second year in a row to perform in concert and as a teacher. This academy brought together musicians from several European countries including the Rimsky Korsakov school in St-Petersburg. In September 2019, he was invited to perform in Odessa at Stolyarsky Hall in a jazz solo repertoire from his debut album.
In January 2020, released on the Berlin label QFTF his first solo album recorded in New York in 2018. It includes 12 jazz solo piano compositions reflecting his life in New York. The album has been acclaimed by international critics since early 2020 (All About Jazz, Jazz Journal, Uk Vibe, Musikansich Berln) and has been broadcast by many European radio stations including HR2 Kultur Frankfurt, Radio Zwei Bremen and RTBF in Brussels.
In February 2022 he released on the Swiss label Unit Records his 2nd album in duet with the American saxophonist Caleb Curtis. Recorded during a concert tour in Switzerland and Germany, this album contains 12 original compositions and has since been acclaimed by international critics (Jazz’n”More, Crescendo Magazine).
His 3rd album (a solo piano) will be released during the year 2022
He has performed as a soloist in various contexts in Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Canada and in the United States.
December 9, 2022 - Lörrach (DE), Nellies Theater - (Quartet)
April 5, 2023 - Klosters, Tastentage Festival - (Trio)
April 21, 2023 - Basel, Liestal Klavierwerksatt - (Solo)
Release Tour of new album "Anormalidad"
May 26, 2023 - Lörrach, Nellies Theater - Quartet
June 1, 2023 - Basel - Sissach, Cheesmeyer Café - (Concert Lecture with Maria Moser)
July 29th - Dorbon, Valais - Duo with Trumpet
2 September - Stans (LU), Chäslager - Duo with Lakiko
9-10 September - Berlin (Lichtburgforum) - Solo + Concert Lecture with Maria Moser
October 21 - Berlin (Andenbuch) - Concert Lecture with Maria Moser
December 16 - Lörrach, Nellies Theater (Trio)
“Nicoud’s pieces are straightforward and beautiful. His touch is unique, his technique flawless. There is a lyrical quality to all his musical ideas and a flattering familiarity to the sound of a young Keith Jarrett . Outline marks the beginning of a very promising young artist’s recording career”
UK Vibe, May 2020, Sammy Gouldbourne
“Laurent Nicoud has a thoughtful touch that gives weight to each individual note even when his working through agitated up-tempo like Louffoque and the charging Groove in E Flat. Outline shows that Nicoud has a knack for slippery sophistication and grand dramatic flourishes as well”
All About Jazz, July 2020, Jerome Wilson
“It’s noticeable that Nicoud’s right hand evinces some of the more classical influenced lines but his left hand often conjures-up more recognisably jazz-infused chords. Track such as Ostinato #3 and In front are evidence of Nicoud’s undeniable virtuosity”
Jazz Journal, August 2020, Roger Farbey
“Laurent Nicoud has a nuanced touch. Surprising debut album for a 27 years old pianist”
HR2 Kultur Radio Frankfurt, May 2020, Guenter Hottmann,
“Outline is a special record. A studio album that was recorded in one day is a rarity. Jazz can knock on the door when in Ostinato 3 your hear fast high notes over a calm bass. Nicoud’s relaxed pianizing is a surpising gain”
Musikansich Berlin, June 2020, Norbert Fransecky