Chris Gestrin: After the City Has Gone: Quiet

Jerry D'Souza By

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Back in 2004, Chris Gestrin (piano, prepared piano, percussion) went into a studio in Vancouver to record his music. He had a dream and he wanted to realize it with musicians that he had long wanted to play with and those that had made a mark on the improvised music scene. Some of it was written, most of it was improvised.

Improvisation is a process. It comes off best when there is empathy between the musicians. But there is also another factor—communicating with the listener. The former looks inward and while it has its positives, the greater impact comes in reaching out. Gestrin's two-CD set clocks in at two hours. Listening to it is worth the while, even if that experience has to come in segments for more rewarding listening.

There are many tunes that have an almost magical lure. The intensity that drives "Metres Per Second, with the ever inventive Peggy Lee (cello), is balanced by the calm that marks "Viewpoint 1. "Viewpoint 1 is a beautiful tune with Joseph Pepe Danza breathily gentle on the ney as he plays the wistful melody. He adds to the dimension with percussive elements on the hang and, with Gestrin playing quick, sweet melodic lines, the tune comes off as a remarkable ode.

One of the more common pairings on the first CD comes when Miles Black joins Gestrin on "Beauty Walks in This World. The two pianists interweave the bass and the high notes before they combine for some rhythmic propulsion. The track is short, but well-conceived.

There are two tracks with Gordon Grdina on the second CD, Quiet. Grdina plays guitar on "#47, with the accent on melody. His notes are gently paced and as he opens up space, Gestrin comes in drinking from the same melodic fount. "Moonshine Run is also impressive; here Grdina is on a prepared dobro, and sure enough, he brings in a country feel. As for Gestrin, he strums and plucks the piano strings. It's a different direction and a welcome one.

"The Lasting Taste of Spring finds Gestrin improvising on the melody. Where, at other times, he can pick his notes with an odd deliberation, his variations do not wander far on this succinct and delectable solo outing.

"Command and Promise is a blues tune. Jon Bentley brings the melody upfront on tenor saxophone, opening the road slowly but with his sights firm and assured. Bernie Arai's subtle shadings and Gestrin's occasional embellishments add to the mood and the glow, before it explodes into a free ride.

Gestrin has found his muse and his inspiration at these sessions.

Track Listing: Disc 1: Metres Per second; To Sink in Posture; Living Candles; Viewpoint 1; Prelude in D; Turnstiles: Many Skies; Beauty Walks in This World; Bees; The Seeds of My Departure; Viewpoint 2; As Pointless as the Weather; D.S.; With Such Unsettled Heart; The Loves of the Angels.

Disc 2: Write by Return to Your Longing; The Melody That Is; Guilty gates; #47; Moonshine Run; Command and Promise; On the Back of a Tiger; The Lasting Taste of Spring; Storied Walls; Silence of faded Emblem; The Evening

Personnel: Chris Gestrin: piano, prepared piano, percussion; Joseph Pepe Danza: shakuhachi, ney, percussion; Ron Samworth: guitar; Miles Black: piano; Peggy Lee: cello; Jon Bentley: saxophones: Bernie Arai: drums; Gordon Grdna: guitar, dobro; Bill Clark: trumpet; J.P. Carter: trumpet; Jeremy Berkman: trombone; Jesse Zubot: violin; Dylan van der Schyff: drums.

Title: After the City Has Gone: Quiet | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

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