New York-based reed master Ned Rothenberg managed to perform twice during his last family trip to Israel two years ago, and in both instances he collaborated for the first time with Israeli musicians. Two duets from Rothenberg concert in Jerusalem with free-improv bassist JC Jones were documented on Jones' second release (Duos II, Kadima Collective, 2005), and now this collaboration with iconoclastic composer Slava Ganelin, Falling into Place, recorded live in concert in Jaffa, has been finally released.
Rothenberg, like Ganelin, uses his arsenal of instrumentsbass clarinet, clarinet, alto sax and shakuhachias a means to construct epic narratives through a slow and careful process. Both use mesmerizing dynamics between foreground themes, solo playing and background accompaniment, leaving spaces in even the busiest and most heated playing.
Rothenberg demonstrate these abilities on the pensive opening track, "The Foot In It," where he uses his bass clarinet for percussive punctuations and accentuations around his solo playing. Ganelinwho plays the grand piano, synthesizer and percussiontends to be more dramatic, and his first solo piece, the 34-minute "The Place With The Space," is a well-crafted journey that moves between segments rich with pathos and minimalist, hypnotic lines. Sometimes his expansive piano playing is almost romantic, but more often his textures are dark.
Rothenberg plays another two solo pieces on the clarinet and the alto sax, the almost bluesy "A Blue Dance" and the very dense "Wood In The Metal," where his circular breathing helps him develop ideas and motives. Only then do Ganelin and Rothenberg begin to collaborate through short five pieces. On these beautiful consecutive duets, Ganelin and Rothenberg balance each others' flights into a more disciplined frame, keeping a game-like spirit and enjoying the question and answer exchanges. On "Luminous Staircase" their playing is more contemplative, and on "Grassland," the only piece where Rothenberg plays the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), they sound like they're creating a futuristic folky tune, incorporating Ganelin's strange synthesizer drone and percussion.
This beautiful recording captures two masters at their best, alone and together, and everything really falls into place.
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Personnel: Slava Ganelin: piano; synthesizer; Ned Rothenberg: bass clarinet, clarinet, alto sax,