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House of Waters: On Becoming


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House of Waters: On Becoming
Flowing in many directions yet forever staying in the moment is largely the challenge and artistic purpose of House of Waters. Here they once again bring forth new and creative concepts that are freely exchanged and intertwined. New beginnings, drawn from multiple sources, as well as further exploration of the past, create the wonder, awe, and awareness of On Becoming. The dulcimer was not part of mainstream culture until Max ZT put it on the map. Joining with six string bassist Moto Fukushima and an ongoing array of percussionists, the sound is fueled by percussive energy and ideology. To that end, several percussionists have contributed to House of Waters' music since its inception. Each one has brought forth something fresh and different to the mix. The sparks of creativity are lit again and again with each new encounter.

Drummer Antonio Sanchez joins House of Waters on this recording. Early on the trio find their collective footing on "Folding Cranes." What follows is a steady yet often miraculous stream of connectivity and awareness. To try and analyze and discuss every song would prove tedious and perhaps even a spoiler alert of sorts. This music is way open to individual interpretation and how it affects the listener in the moment. The group's music has always been described as free, limitless, with no boundaries. In an attempt to leave no one stranded at the dock, they have incorporated more structure and balance than in previous recordings. The freedom, the interplay, the depth are all there, now with a nod towards fully connecting with their audience.

Two guest artists are on board. Vocalist Priya Darshini (ZT's wife) joins as they revisit "The Wall" from (Rising, Ground Up, 2019). As a group they climb higher and penetrate deeper. The ten minute epic is buoyed by Darshini as she astoundingly mimics ZT's dulcimer with her voice. About half way through it sounds as if someone has switched over to a record by the other guest, Mike Stern. From the onset of "Hang In the Air" one hears the guitarist's airy, fluid sound. Soon Stern and ZT become joined at the hip and enter into mind boggling interplay and solo swapping. For ZT to be in essence jamming with a guitarist opens up an entire new world of possibilities. The fact that Stern's guitar and the dulcimer are in the same register makes it sound very organic. The title is a Fukushima play on words. Whenever you say "How's it going?" to Stern, he will reply "Hangin' in there." That cleverly became "Hang in the Air."

"705" refers to the time this Fukushima composition was written. Less than two hours before a nine o'clock gig. The song is a remembrance and a tribute to the 55 Bar in New York City. Sadly the club closed in 2022. Many artists, including ZT, Fukushima, Stern, and Leni Stern played there. Oftentimes it was a haven for woodshedding and experimenting. Also one never knew who might come walking in the door and join in on stage. Consequently there were hundreds if not thousands of musical moments on the 55 Bar stage that were never heard or recreated anywhere else. The song indeed has a sadness in the good-bye and a full heart of sentiment. It rallies with a strong current to give the 55 Bar the upbeat send off it so richly deserves.The feelings of good times and new connections build to an energetic level that is laced with a grand percussive tribute taking it to the end.

While every song has its own special character filled with luscious in the moment movements, one other song to highlight is "Still." The ZT composition was written in honor of his dulcimer guru, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. The santoor maestro passed away in 2022. He was a pioneer of the instrument. "Still" refers to the patience in every note. That there is intent with every note. The concept of being in the moment is so beautifully captured and distinguished in a loving tribute.

The new elements added by Sanchez are eagerly accepted by ZT and Fukushima. The conversation and improvisation level grows exponentially. Call it jazz, call it world music, call it whatever you like. This music is beyond labels. To say east meets west with a heavy understanding of classical music only begins to describe it. To have maintained the freedom of movement and depth while incorporating a bit of structure and balance is a separate genus in itself. The trio is completely immersed and have provided a sea of opportunities for the listener to find their own moments of immersion.

Track Listing

Folding Cranes; Avaloch; 705; Hang in the Air; Tsumamion; Azures; Still; The Wall; Kabuseori.


House of Waters
band / ensemble / orchestra
Max ZT
Moto Fukushima
bass, electric
Mike Stern

Album information

Title: On Becoming | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: GroundUP Music




Nov 7 Thu

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