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What was remarkable about the first Invite the Spirit record by the trio of guitarist Henry Kaiser, percussionist Charles K. Noyes and San Won Park (who plays the Korean kayagum, a twelve-stringed zither-like instrument) was how neatly they subsumed Asian traditions with the Western avant-garde. On the trio's second record, they more or less do the same, but some 23 years have passed and traditions have evolved.
And in a sense, it's a misnomer to call it a merging of traditions. As much as Park does, Kaiser and Noyes play "traditional" (if not as old) instruments. But Asian instruments have been by and large outside of the developments of rock and amplification, and so they reside closer to conservancies and courts. With, of course, exceptions.
On Invite the Spirit 2006 the three musicians at times play harder than they did before, Kaiser especially turning rough edges on his guitar. A pair of guests, both Korean vocalists and percussionists, join the trio on four of the eight tracks, giving Park a majority at least some of the time. But even on those tracks, there's a sense of exploding tradition.
When this group's first record was released in 1983, the world was much bigger and sounds lived much further apart. Kaiser was (and remains) an avid explorer, seeking out cultures and traditions and learning to work with them. It's remarkable now, when the internet and handheld digital recorders have made music from all over the world so available, to hear this trio return to the formula and still make it sound fresh and innovative.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.