Conservatory-trained and prize-winning bassist/improviser Joëlle Léandre has aligned herself with new music advocates such as Anthony Braxton and Morton Feldman, among others. So it should be of little surprise that the esteemed bassist would extend her wares a bit by connecting with koto performer Kazue Sawai for a set brimming with minimalist themes and impassioned improv.
The koto is a Japanese musical instrument that can have anywhere between 1 and 17 strings extended over a four-sided box. Sawai is a well-known master, having formed the Tokyo-based Sawai Koto School. Here, two world-class yet altogether disparate instrumentalists investigate various modalities via instances of implied meter, along with various strumming and plucking techniques. On track two (no song titles), the musicians tap their respective instruments in concert with swirling exchanges and wordless chants. At times, the music seems to take on sacred implications. The artists’ somewhat ethnocentrically devised permutations hint at two foreign languages coalescing for an evocative union. With this release, east meets west as the duo tosses notions back and forth amid complex fabrics of sound. Recommended. (Listener patience and open mindedness is a prerequisite here!)
The first record I bought was Miles Smiles. Having been a drummer since age two, hearing a young Tony Williams opened up so many possibilities for a 14 year old church drummer. My life changed that day and I've never looked back!