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Album Review

Michel Doneda: Path Under


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Michel Doneda: Path Under
Artist Cécile Picquot's micro-label releases limited editions of fifteen copies of improvised music, each of them housed in a unique numbered cardboard cover hand-painted and signed by Picquot. Although such items go like hot cakes and are hard to find, the musicians have access to more plainly dressed copies. Path Under is French saxophonist Michel Doneda's second appearance on the label, the first having been Bows and Arrows (Micro-label, 2021) composed and performed by the saxophone trio of Doneda on soprano or sopranino, Phillipe Lemoire on tenor and Simon Rose on baritone, recorded live in concert in November 2019.

Improvised solo by Doneda, again on soprano and sopranino saxophones, Path Under was recorded outdoors by Gerard Fabbiani, near to the saxophonist's home, in the Forêt de Saou, Plan Synclinal Perché, Drôme, France, on 29th September 2020. The album comprises five tracks (untitled on the plainer version but maybe not on the numbered copies) with a total running time of fifty-one minutes, the shortest track clocking in at seven-and-a-quarter minutes, the longest at thirteen-and-a-half.

Across the five tracks, Doneda employs the full range of both his horns and all his skills, producing a kaleidoscopic soundscape which hangs together well but is not predictable from one minute to the next. Not bound by the playing of fellow musicians, instead his playing is a reaction to the stimuli of the forest environment, some of which are captured on the recording, thus giving a context to his playing, At times, his playing is deeply moving, oozing emotion and pathos; at other times it is strong, even bombastic. Taken as a whole, the album is an object lesson in solo improvisation and stands up well to repeated playing.

Doneda's tally of album releases is not far short of one hundred, of which very few feature him playing solo. For that reason Path Under is an album worth tracking down and treasuring, both for seasoned Doneda devotees and listeners who appreciate solo saxophone improv. One has to hope that availability of this album will extend further than being able to purchase it at Doneda gigs.

Track Listing

1; 2; 3; 4; 5.


Michel Doneda: saxophone, soprano.

Additional Instrumentation

Michel Doneda: sopranino saxophone

Album information

Title: Path Under | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Micro-label

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