Once, a very long time ago, "jazz" was about "that swing." The substance without which it didn't mean a thing manifested itself externally in the rhythms, the walk, the "fashion" of the hipster. Once co-opted by Madison Avenue, jazz then kept its hipness either well-hidden or moved it constantly like a weapon of mass destruction.
That knowing hipness today has no public face, fashion, or spokesman. It is to be found in the open-ended, hit-and-sometimes-miss music of free improvisation. A music that takes both patience and, perhaps, a Buddhist meditative mind to appreciate.
Making that music in 2003 and 2004 were three very much like-minded artists. Saxophonists Michel Doneda, Jack Wright, and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani share a sense of relaxed purpose in these three lengthy pieces. Doneda, who has worked extensively with Le Quan Ninh, also finds Wright equally at home with a percussionist in these sessions.
Each track tiptoes in and out with no grand scheme. The musicians develop ideas through breaths, scrapes, tones, flutters, vibrations, and silence. Can you say nothing really happens? Sure. But you can also listen. Meditate. The brew here is the the perfect timing of Nakatani's bell and drum, the overblown saxophone, the breath.
How can you tell this is the very finest improvisation at work? Like the man said, "if you have to ask, you've missed the point."
I'm sure Mssrs. Doneda, Wright, and Takatani have no desire to be labeled as hipsters, which is why they are indeed such hip cats.
Track Listing: Hands Behind Hands; Of Pipes And Roots; ...Open This Surface To Clouds.
Personnel: Michel Doneda - Sopranino Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone; Jack Wright - Soprano Saxophone,
Alto Saxophone; Tatsuya Nakatani - Percusssion.