for prepared
toy pianos


  • 1 hop (02:47)
  • 2 eppur si muove (03:21)
  • 3 short fuses (01:36)
  • 4 balthus ed il gatto (02:53)
  • 5 to alan lomax (02:41)
  • 6 il chant un petit chanson (01:34)
  • 7 il mange une pomme (01:13)
  • 8 il neige (01:12)
  • 9 ou est il? (01:24)
  • 10 earthquakes (02:54)
  • 11 elegy for russian brides (02:51)
  • 12 traps and targets (01:34)
  • 13 gazz (08:17)
  • 14 gaffers song (01:33)
  • 15 vertical arrival (05:36)
  • 16 misfits (01:43)

Album Info

total playing time: 43:51

recorded by chris weeda, february, 2004, 2004 at the bimhuis, amsterdam
mixed and mastered by chris weeda at leroy studio, amsterdam

all compositions by van veenendaal/ puglisi except ‘hop’ by chris abelen and ‘gazz’ by a. van veenendaal, © buma/ © siae

design: lysander le coultre (strangelove creatives)
photography: monique besten
distribution: www.subdist.com
evil rabbit records is a member of www.toondist.com


  • kcin-kcin, november 2009

    the new dutch label evil rabbit record was established in 2006. one of their first releases is a wonderful duet by albert van veenendaal (nl) and fabrizio puglisi (it), a recording made in 2004. the cd contains sixteen miniatures, among them even one entitled elegy for russian brides halfway the cd a collection of songs called quatre petites histoires is presented as if they are connected through a plot. very well performed and pleasantly surprising pieces not in the least through the use of a toy piano. the design of the cd's is also very nice. while passing by i heard the music coming from behind a wall and even before i had time to enter the room where the disk was being played i knew: this is the kind of music i am looking for!

  • alfredo ratelli, march 2008, sands-zine on

    once more we write about the dutch label evil rabbit, founded by meinrad kneer and albert van veenendaal getting back to its first two releases: the first one sees at work the two deus ex machina.

    even more interesting are the duets for prepared, unprepared and toy piano performed by albert van veenendaal and the italian pianist fabrizio puglisi. this is an informal encounter, free and temperamental (the games of hop, il neige, the dark gait of klangwelt 2 and the introspective comeback of gazz) in which contemporary music, jazz, radical improvisation (which makes us think of fred van hoeve), quotations (balthus e il gatto) are meeting on the common field of the pure quality and creativity (vertical arrival, epur si muove).

  • marc van de walle, march 2008, www.jazzenzo.nl

    van veenendaal surprises again with a highly refined and extremely high standing musical dialogue. this time his sparring partner is pianist fabrizio puglisi. the two musicians follow each other magically and bring out ideas in each other which is what their music is about. it exceeds all beauty and elevates itself to a solitary level through the deeply felt bond between the two musicians.

    both pianists are masters in gambling with sounds and the q & a-game continuously surprises with its delicacy and richness. the music generated by their duets is used as a fully fledged semiotic system. once caught in this conversation the listener is thrown from one sonorous surprise to the other: all gradations of tenderness and strength are portrayed. what applies to the munderkingen sessions equally applies here: spontaneity, improvisation and beauty seem treacherously innocent. the continuity in suspense keeps a firm hold on the listeners attention. duets for prepared, unprepared and toy pianos contains a lot of information that emerges only at a slow pace. and this for the listener who will take his time. a jewel.

  • Peter van den Brande, February 2008, Kwadratuur.be Th

    The idea of the “prepared” piano originated from the composer John Cage who, while composing music for a dance performance, originally had a percussion ensemble in mind. Due to lack of space, however, he had to think of another solution. Cage clasped items of various materials between the strings of the piano in order to achieve different sounds. Pieces of rubber and felt created a whole new world of sound.

    Even if the phenomenon of the prepared piano did not find many followers, it does appear here and there, for instance in the Dutch-Italian collaboration between Albert van Veenendaal and Fabrizio Puglisi. They too will spice up there pianos with additional timbres. Their style balances on the fine line between jazz and contemporary classical music where composition and improvisation seamlessly blend.

    The often short tunes on this album are basically own compositions with the exception of Gazz, a contribution of trombonist Chris Abelen. His playful rhythms and modal-atonal harmonies in the opening track Hop remind one of Bartók. The two pianists weave a recognizable melody into alternate registers. Eppur Si Muove puts a prepared and an unprepared piano into dialogue where neither gets in the other one’s way. They complement each other smoothly, one focusing entirely on harmony while the other concentrates on rhythms and then both functions fall back into common dance. In Balthus ed il Gatto one of the two pianists plays conventionally while the other gives the insides of the piano the works. The combination of toy piano and prepared piano make Quatre Petites Histoires often sound charming and sweet. Now and then a nursery rhyme type melody will appear to subsequently either be peppered by staccato clusters or turned inside out by dissonance. Despite the bad French delicate titles illustrate the music and help interpret them: Il Chant un Petit Chanson [sic], Il Mange une Pomme, Il Neige en Ou est il? Far more treacherous is the sound of Traps and Targets, which opens with a haunting arpeggio on the strings, referring to Henry Cowell’s The Banshee.

    Most of the duets are rhythmically very well articulated and the piano is used – equally in keeping with of Bartók – as a percussion instrument. Van Veenendaal and Puglisi, however, use all sorts of techniques: the piano strings in Gazz sound as if treated with razorblades. It’s obvious that this should account for an unusual and surprising sound, it is far less obvious though that the duo should be capable of mastering this. But they have it all wonderfully under control. Due to their impeccable technique, it is sometimes virtually impossible to make out where composition ends and improvisation begins.

  • philippe méziat, january 2008, jazz magazine, no. 588

    cardboard digipacks and a sophisticated design characterize this label established in 2006 whose first two releases feature the work of a dutch pianist, albert van veenendaal, presented here with the german bassist meinrad kneer, then with the italian pianist fabrizio puglisi. van veenendaal who calls himself a “pictorial” musician favors a multiple, instrumentally color-saturated approach based on instant compositions, the result in the second opus possibly being on the fulcrum between improvised and more written music. the music there is meditative, sometimes dark, flowing into muffled or violent rumbling; elsewhere it’s almost totally buoyant when the two pianists seem to echo, in a highly cultivated manner, not only the sound of wiener and doucet at the beginning of the century, but also of albert ammons and pete johnson, not to mention ellington and strayhorn! to me, the duet with fabrizio puglisi seems to be more original, more on the cutting edge, distinguished by original compositions that evoke a sense of childhood. certainly worth discovering and watching (in the future)…

  • jazz bulletin nr. 66, january 2008, www.jazzenzo.nl

    and playful is the tone with which albert van veenendaal and his colleague pianist fabrizio puglisi play together and not only during the dangerous tempi in short fuses and earthquakes. there’s a pianola kind of weirdness but also layered little motives in to alan lomax, not to mention the defected sounds these pianists tickle out of their prepared pianos. by which time you haven’t even heard a hint from the toy pianos!

  • jay collins, july 2007, cadence

    this summit between dutch pianist albert van veenendaal and italian pianist fabrizio puglisi, recorded at amsterdam’s famed bimhuis, presents an exciting program of sixteen cuts where the duo present their instruments’ fullest ranges. the results speak to their virtuosity, creativity and lively personal playing styles that mix technique equally with a sense of joy. as for the straight-up piano pieces, the opening bounce of “hop” is a tricky, yet buoyant excursion that demonstrates their collaborative strengths, particularly due to their call and response, deconstruction of melodic threads and biting humor. for further examples, the rollicking “short fuses” has the pianos literally rocking with tenacious force, while they stomp excitedly on “to alan lomax” and oscillate wildly on “earthquakes.” the duo’s sense of freedom and fun really takes best shape on the pieces that prominently feature prepared work, such as the plucky percussiveness of “eppur si muove,” the whispers of “balthus e il gatto,” the emotive tranquility of “elegy for russian brides,” the puckish “traps and targets” and “gaffers song.” other high marks include the stunningly beautiful extended track, “gazz,” where eerie, meditative soundmaking is on tap, as well as the obtuse “vertical arrival” or the nervous energy of “misfits.” though whimsical throughout, there is no better example than the four part “quartre petites histoires,” a fantasia for the toy piano work of puglisi. with the tinkling “il chant un petit chanson” reminding of little mice scurrying across the floor, the merry-go-round approach of “il mange une pomme,” the rumbling tinkles of “il neige” or the gentle “ou est il?,” it proves difficult not to listen to this short suite repeatedly. some insist that, like most instruments, the piano’s technical boundaries can only be stretched so far and, further, that we’ve already heard it all. for its farthest reaches in terms of pure soundmaking and instrumental dexterity, van veenendaal and puglisi present a wonderful exam- ple of such range.

  • Il manifesto, (m.ga.), july 2007

    the pianist puglisi, one of the most important protagonists of the italian 'eclectic-avantgarde' jazz scene, plays 16 short instant composed duets with his dutch 'twin' van veenendaal. they both use the piano also prepared, puglisi also the toy piano. tight conversations in general, which are lively and led with instrumental, admirable expertise and with the spirit of two boxers but very playful.

    once in a while there are narrative digressions - as appreciated either in the tradition of the dutch circuits and as in the the taste of the protean puglisi - but the music develops in it's own logic and it is animated by a strong passion for research. pleasant cd, open, blasphemous and inventive.

  • jazz magazine, (e.p.), june 2007

    recorded in amsterdam in february 2004 this magnificent work shows the cooperation between two of the best european pianists of the new generations, the dutch albert van veenendaal, cofounder of the independent label evil rabbit and fabrizio puglisi, component of the atman and active in the association 'bassesfere' in bologna. the record proposes 16 duets for piano, prepared and toy piano, but it is better to warn the fans so that they know that these bright episodes require a committed listening.

    the heavy weight of "duets" is brilliantly synthesized in the stormy "earthquakes" and "short fuses": hallucinating "earthquakes of notes and arpeggios", tuned with the genial and elliptic "descent into the maelstroom", a tristanian nightmare of 1953.

  • farnè, may 2007, musica jazz nr. 5

    this remarkable cd confirms that among small labels we can find the most unpredictable and inspiring productions and the most original and personal graphic design. and indirectly, it confirms that italian improvisers can take the chance to have a look outside the national borders. since 1997 puglisi periodically visits the amsterdam scene, where, four years ago, he met van veenendaal, who is slightly older. together in “duets” they offer an all-round improvisation (except for two pieces) by proving an extraordinary syntony, either in concept and technique. however, their music takes a distance from the strict codes of radical improvisation; on the contrary, the solidity of the structures, the melodic cues and the rythmic bows often give the impression that this is written music. the main reference for the two pianists is not much jazz but the academic music of the twentieth century. Infact, now and then a tribute to tristano or taylor is doubtless but more often the shadow of bartok appears as sometimes the charming nonchalance of satie or the “oriental” cage of the works for prepared piano from the fourties, raise.

  • enrico bettinello, march 2007, blow up

    elegant and linear in the beautyful packaging, “duets” makes us discover the mesmeric affinity between the two pianos (might they be prepared, unprepared or toy) of albert van veenendaal and fabrizio puglisi (who, among the italian improvisers is revealing himself more and more as a referring point).

    usually pianistic duets are played either with bombastic virtuosity or - on the contrary - with a shy musical “please, after you”, which the most generous souls would misjudge for understatement. here instead we find courage and respect, the role play is in fact a game and, time after time, the very fast pieces happen to create small abstractions or sudden alliances between notes.

    they are imperceptible magic, soft molecular dances where sometimes the detail makes the difference. find them.

  • Herman te Loo, february 2007, Jazzflits nr 3 The

    The title leaves no doubt and the pianists make good use of their range of instruments. The music is playful, rhythmical and danceable. It is remarkable, however, that Van Veenendaal and Puglisi don’t get in each other’s way – usually this is quiet a risk with two pianos. They both have a spacious way of playing that leaves room to breathe and helps avoiding too many note-accumulations. Composers like Satie en Cage were probably great influences on both of them. After all Cage introduced the gamelan sound of the prepared piano and the dreamy Gazz (one of Van Veenendaal’s compositions) would be unheard of without the Frenchman’s oeuvre.

  • vincenzo roggero, february 2007, all about jazz italy, d

    dry, incisive, essential and in total symbiosis with the hard paper edition which contains it: a sort of ‘arte povera’ of marketing in the label industry. we are talking about duets for unprepared and toy pianos, a cd released by fabrizio puglisi, one of the most creative representatives of italian pianism, and albert van veendaal, dutch piano player on the edge of contemporary and jazz music, founder of the label evil rabbit records the session, recorded in the legendary bimhuis in amsterdam is far away from the usual challenge between piano experts, anxious to show their never-ending instrumental virtuosity. on the contrary it consists of 16 author’s sketches (only 3 pieces go above the 3 minutes). 16 pictures which set on cd a minimalistic music in it’s expression, but at the same time, is rich in it’s contents and references in it’s substance. the two pianists are completely at ease among dissonances, sound-jokes on the strings of the piano and improbable melodies. and they enjoy using onomatopoeia as in “quatre petit histoires”, a very short suite in which the toy piano adds an alienating atmosphere and evocates movements of butterfly wings like in “il neige”. or the thundery chord exchanges, played in the low registers of “earthquakes”, luckily only musical earthquake. then, when the listener seems to be acquainted to a kind of sound zapping, here it comes, unpredicted, “gazz”, with it’s eight abundant minutes of meditative tranquillity: a deranged romantic oasis which voluptuousness surrounds you and leaves you breathless. a record which tickles the mind and grows listening by listening.