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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Philip Gelb: Between/Waves

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Philip Gelb performs on the “shakuhachi” which is a Japanese flute made from bamboo with 4 finger holes and 1 thumbhole. Here, Mr. Gelb devises an interesting yet non-formulaic approach as he integrates his ideas into non-mainstream formats which include free-improvisation and electronics. The first piece, titled “The Space Between” was recorded live at Beanbender’s in Berkely, CA. Clocking in at 29 minutes, Gelb performs along with accordionist Pauline Oliveros, ROVA’s saxophonist Jon Raskin and pianist Dana Reason. This piece commences in somewhat of a playful and nonchalant manner as the group explore abstract tonalities and purvey improvisational dialogue. The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brett Larner, Shoko Hikage, and Philip Gelb: Indistancing

Brett Larner is a master of the Japanese guitar-like koto, on which he has recorded a breathtaking series of duets with Anthony Braxton. On this fine disc he is joined by fellow koto player Shoko Hikage, along with Philip Gelb, who wields another traditional Japanese instrument, the flute-like shakuhachi.

This is improvised music that is formed and guided by the traditions and possibilities of these instruments. For although the music is improvised, apparently without much of anything in the way of a predetermined structure - and although the musicians are not playing traditional Japanese music - much of this disc ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brett Larner/Shoko Hikage/Philip Gelb: INDISTANCING

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A friend of mine vehemently despises purely improvised music. She refers to free improv as “that genre that refuses to die.” Furthermore, she has predicted that “free improvisation will ultimately be proven to be the gimmicky and cliché-ridden beast that it is as it dead ends with Western practitioners resorting to non-Western instruments to realize their feeble aims.” (Whew...this lady doesn’t mince words, does she?)

Thus, as a fan of improvised music, it was an unnerving coincidence to read the following statement by composer/bassist Tetsu Saitoh in the brief essay which accompanies this disc of improvised music by a trio ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Philip Gelb: Between/waves

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Shakuhachi player Philip Gelb seems to understand that silence can carry as much weight as sound. His new record, between/waves, celebrates this fact. The sounds on this record, made by Gelb and colleagues, explore the dynamics of breathing in the setting of free improvisation.

On “The Space Between," Gelb and quartet exchange bird-like noises, twisting and re-interpreting the age-old standard of call-and-response. On “Waves," a thickly textured electronic field becomes the backdrop for Gelb's plaintive cries. Whirring and buzzing noises pass through the stereo field while Gelb builds tension with long shakuhachi tones. Live electronics collaborator Chris Brown incorporates Gelb's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brett Larner/Shoko Hikage/Philip Gelb: Indistancing

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In the blending of cultures that modern technology has made possible, traditional Japanese instruments like the koto and shakuhachi are now harnessed for free improvisation. In addition to the idiomatic cultural references these instruments bring, they also lend a distinctive tonality to the music. The koto, a stringed instrument, occupies the treble zone with a harsh attack and limited sustain. The shakuhachi, a flute-like instrument, also floats high with a thin treble sound and rich overtones.

On Indistancing, three masters realize the truly international character of these instruments. Canadian expatriate Brett Larner first met fellow koto player Shoko Hikage (Japanese) ...



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