Track Listing: Mountain (7:06); Wine (8:59); Humeur de Dessous (5:02); By Any Other Name (for William Kentridge) (15:06); Humeur de Terre (4:10); Road (7 :16); Humeur l’Esprit (5:51)
Recorded in San Francisco on June 20, 2013 by Eric Moffat at Unsound Recording. Mixing, editing and mastering: Jean-Pierre Bouquet, L’Autre Studio, Vaires-sure-Marne. Production: Michel Dorbon. All compositions by Didier Petit & East-West Collective except By Any Other Name (for William Kentridge) by Larry Ochs.
From the liner notes by Alexandre Pierrepont : “Xu Feng-Xia and Miya Masaoka know each other by reputation, and an invitation was sent to them to join their European and American partners, in France in April 2012, and in the United States in June 2013. Their pinched-string instruments, constantly adjusted and unadjusted to the sound of Didier Petit's sensitive or wild cello, launch generous summons of intoxication to Larry Ochs’ and Sylvain Kassap's wind and freed breath instruments! We can thus expect anything from this East-West Collective and its interactive/imaginative strategies devised by Didier Petit, from the guzheng and the koto under the fingers and fingernails of the two weaving sisters, of the chancellery of air by the labile clarinet, of the chancellery of water by Sylvain Kassap's bass clarinet, of the sopranino's flint, of the torch and resin from Larry Ochs' tenor.”
From the review at AllAboutJazz.com: “…Overlapping passages distinguished by combinations of unusual sonorities and careful listening form one of the unit's defining traits. Rarely does the whole ensemble play at the same time. While some segments verge on the abstract others are unexpectedly tuneful or rhythmic, especially those in which Masaoka or Fengxia evoke reiterated guitar like motifs...Even when the instrumentation goes through constant flux, the collective pulls off the trick of maintaining momentum. Ochs’ episodic "By Any Other Name (for William Kentridge)" provides a case in point as cello and both reeds revolve around an elegiac broadly sketched melody, before a scratchy section which ultimately gives way to strummed koto and guzheng, suggesting a deconstructed blues. Further metamorphoses take place before a return to the two horns in loose fugue…”
You can call the result magic, and that's probably what it is
Probably the hardest thing to explain or even share with somebody else is the esthetic beauty of sound. You can only experience it, and this album is a great introduction to that concept. Great improvised music is often played outside of fixed genres, looking for innovations and moving boundaries, while at the same time finding a common language for the musicians involved. Again, this album is a great example of this. The band is led by Didier Petit, who wrote all but one of the pieces, on cello and voice, with Miya Masaoka on koto, Xu Fengxia on guzheng and voice, Sylvain Kassap on clarinets and Larry Ochs on tenor and sopranino saxophones.
The outcome is exceptional, because there is no such thing as continental cultural divides, no such things as incompatible instruments, while at the same time all musicians are true to their own voice and sound, even if that sound by itself goes beyond the tradition of their respective instruments. You can call the result magic, and that's probably what it is. The music flows slowly, with all instruments cautiously contributing to the overall sounds, weaving phrases together on a bright canvas of sky, full of respect for each other, full of carefully added touches of emphasis, finding their way through the roadmap that Petit sketched. As such, it is hard to speak of compositional structure, with themes or harmonic guidelines or repetitive patterns even. There is no sense of urgency, no sense of self even, no soloing, no sense of drama, just instruments beautifully contributing to the whole. The music flows, from one musician to the other, with phrases coming and going like waves on a stream, and all this with a deep emotional, or even spiritual, authenticity, full of fragile and sensitive moments while being at the same time direct and stubborn.
Available from Instantjazz.
In sum, a great and coherent musical vision, with character and soul, and with wonderful mastery of the instruments, and much stronger than the excerpts you find on You-tube, even if the one below will gives you a perspective on what you can expect.