Composer and pianist Tristan Eckerson is a bit of a nomad—both literally and musically. Moving from city to city since his teenage years, he’s developed an ear for musical exploration and a willingness to follow the melodies wherever they lead him.
His compositions draw musical inspiration from around the world, distilling it through the uniquely tender, quiet introspection that only solo piano music can express. The music itself is nomadic, balancing a restless, forward momentum against moments of silence, reflection, and restraint.
Eckerson’s new album Disarm, which comes out September 16 on 1631 Recordings, features a collection of solo piano works which blend elements of minimalism and modal jazz with more traditional classical idioms.
But you don’t have to wait until September 16 to get a taste. We’re thrilled to premiere the title track off the album right here on Second Inversion. Give it a listen and read through our interview with Eckerson below.
Second Inversion: What was the inspiration behind “Disarm”?
Tristan Eckerson: I had been getting really into modal writing and listening to a lot of Chick Corea, and I wanted to do a piece that was modal all the way through—so that was the basis for “Disarm.” I also think it was inspired by listening to a lot of Alberto Ginastera for the same reasons. I didn’t want to get into tonal harmony at all, but I still wanted to do something that had some variation, a chord progression, and excitement.
SI: How would you describe the sound of this piece?
TE: It’s definitely modal and you could say it has a modern, minimalist sound, at least to me. It also harkens back a little bit to Ginastera, or at least that’s what I hope. I think it’s energetic and I was really trying to fuse the sounds of jazz and world with contemporary classical—to make something that wasn’t outwardly “jazzy,” but that incorporated elements of modal jazz, was composed, and could still fit into the world of what’s considered “contemporary classical” music.
SI: How does this piece relate to the rest of the album?
TE: I think it is the lynchpin of the album. I wanted to do something minimal, ethereal, and modal, but also contemporary, genre-bending, and exciting. And I think that “Disarm,” being the title track, is a fusion of all of those things. Some of the other pieces have elements of one or the other, but “Disarm” combines the many elements that I like in classical and contemporary music into one composition.
Tristan Eckerson’s full-length album Disarm comes out September 16 on 1631 Recordings. Click here to view tour dates for his European tour in September.