Japanese pianist, composer Aki Takase collaborates with her peers on what could be considered an all-star international lineup, originating from her partnership with French clarinetist Louis Sclavis. Interspersed with several pieces, spanning one-minute to two- minutes in length, the nouveau chamber, jazz, and improvised segments are brusque, changeable and smoothly cohesive. In addition, many of these works take on the flavor of intersecting vignettes. Takase's Midas touch can be ever-so-gentle or constructed on steamy, avant-like flurries. The band conjures notions of harmony or despair via blithe unison reprises and an uncluttered musical environment, forged with great depth and compositions that don't snugly reside within one explicit genre.
The album boasts a vacillating current, featuring Takase's animated ostinatos; dainty or somber free-form cadenzas and Sclavis' carefree articulations amid the strings performers brisk unison breakouts and many other dynamics. And the quartet exercises an off- center spin on the Italian tarantella folk dance "Tarantella," spiced with frisky improvisational passages and disciplined choruses. The lone non-Takase composition is German avant-garde pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach's "Twelve Tone Tales, featuring Sclavis and violinist Dominique Pifarely's mystical storylines, nestled within the pianist's pensive articulations and cellist Vincent Courtois's classical undercurrents. However, Sclavis also lightens the panorama with whimsical phrasings over-the-top. In effect, the program rings like a multipart suite, enacted with comprehensive mosaics, and offset with rambunctious exchanges and flotation-like thematic evolutions. In less capable hands, these scenarios could seem muddled or contrived, but Takase's ensemble triumphantly morphs a sense of immediacy with sheer eloquence, graceful authority and mind-bending interplay.
Track Listing: Into The Woods; Rouge Stone; Wasserspiegel; Onigawarau; Finger Princess;
Morning Bell; Turtle Mirror; Reading; Intoxication; Schoolwork; Flying
Soul; Tarantella; Twelve Tone Tales; Moon Cake; Piece for “La Planete.”
Personnel: Aki Takase: piano, celesta; Louis Sclavis: clarinet, bass clarinet;
Dominique Pifarely: violin; Vincent Courtois: cello.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.