J.S. Bach’s Great Jazz Riff
Pianist Jeremy Denk, who thrilled Central Ohio music lovers when he played Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, then followed up with The Alcotts from Charles Ives’ 2nd Piano Sonata for dessert, has recently received a MacArthur ‘Genius Grant,’ which “provides maximum freedom for recipients to follow their own creative vision.”
One of the many reasons Denk was included in the 2013 group of 24 recipients was his recording of the Bach Goldberg Variations, which he calls “maniacal, in the best way” and refers to as “the biggest jazz riff ever written.”
It is said that there is a fine line between genius and madness. Between Bach and Denk, that is well demonstrated. One need only read his blog, ‘Think Denk” to understand what I mean, or follow him into the labyrinthian depths of Bach’s Goldbergs, wearing them like a second skin.
Denk is fascinating, both as a person and an artist. I invite you to get to know them both.
Above, you can watch him explain just a small portion of the enormous “riff.”
Listen to Jeremy Denk talk about ’The Biggest Jazz Riff Ever Written:’ Jeremy Denk’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ (NPR)