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Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig Trio: Washington, D.C. May 17, 2011

Franz A. Matzner By

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Moutin, who has known Pilc since their early years at university in France, explains it another way. He begins by citing two fundamental principles developed during those early years: hear what you play, play what you hear. Moutin then expands: "Hear what you play. When a musician chooses this injunction as one of his driving principles, he starts a lifelong process of learning how to eliminate from his improvisations the musical statements that don't provide him with an emotional meaning and, at the same time, how to let those that do come to him. The injunction play what you hear, once adopted by the same musician, pushes him to find by himself, in his psychomotor functioning and his instrumental technique—what is going to allow him to instantly perform those emotionally loaded musical statements as they come to him. When all musicians in a group are on that one page, which I think is the case in Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig, they have a good chance to manage this kind of fluid interplay."

Hoenig describes the band's dynamic by articulating what happens when playing with a more typical jazz band that follows the standard format: head, solo, trade eights, conclusion. "So, in a band like that, there is something that happens after you play the head out right at the end. What happens is that when you get to that point in a song everyone kind of looks up. They come out of their own little world and they start thinking and listening to each other. And what happens to the music is very strong at that point because everyone starts paying attention. That's the feeling that we are going for all the time. Anything can happen at any time. It doesn't have to be solos, or it can be one solo, or different orders. We can change tempos drastically. We can change from one song to another—totally out of the blue. There is [never] a situation where we know what is going to happen. That's really what keeps it fun and keeps it engaged."

If it were possible to distill the Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig Trio experience to one word, it might well be "engagement." Total, concentrated engagement between the band members coupled with a demand for audience engagement. In fact, the band should come with a warning label: keep your eyes peeled, your ears attuned, and your mind open because the musical ideas come so fast, are so unpredictable, and flow so freely that unless you are willing to participate actively through close attention, you are liable never to catch-up. Those willing to buy the ticket and take the ride, however, are bound to experience an exciting and unique sonic journey.

Of course, Pilc would probably say all that is nonsense. That the story of the music exists only in the moment of its coming into being, each incarnation distinct and unrepeatable. Or, more likely, he'd reject even that. He might just repeat what he said after the show: "Sometimes people ask me how do I approach the music. I say 'well, I don't.' How do I approach the sun? Well, I don't. It's too hot. So I stay away from it. To me [music]'s exactly the same thing. I feel the warmth, but I don't approach it. Otherwise I destroy it or destroy myself. Which I don't want to do—I'm not crazy."

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