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Michael Attias: Renku In Coimbra

Martin Longley By

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Within the realms of his Renku trio, the reed specialist Michaël Attias deliberately glides towards a contemplative space. His partners in sensitivity are bassist John Hébert and drummer Satoshi Takeishi. In this setting, Attias deliberately confines himself to the alto saxophone, although his sonic results are anything but self-shackled. Often, when Attias is playing around the city he'll be soloing more aggressively or crafting sharply jabbing themes as part of a thrusting frontline. Most of the pieces here inhabit a peaceful zone, allowing maximum potential for individual elaboration. There's a hovering, circulatory motion, with these three playing at the traditionally lyrical end of their range.

Renku is a form of Japanese poetry that usually involves real-time collaboration. These sessions were recorded in Coimbra, Portugal, when his quintet was playing a three-nighter at the 2008 Jazz ao Centro Clube Festival. Although Attias is the leader, he only provides two compositions, with Hébert bringing three, the songbook completed by a tune apiece from Jimmy Lyons and Lee Konitz. The latter's "Thingin'" has Attias capering lightly, Takeishi's brushes glancing lightly around his skins and cymbals, Hébert's bass creeping underfoot.

Abstraction reigns on "Do & The Birds," with Takeishi pottering around his field of gongs and woodblocks. Attias enters over a thrumming bass line, delicately flamingo-legging through their terrain. "Fenix Culprit" makes a hectic dash, Attias squirming out his lines, letting them wriggle seductively past the ears. This track features guest Russ Lossing on piano.

All of the compositions keep their duration down concisely, fomenting direct communicativeness. "Sorry" (the Lyons tune) features outstandingly dexterous bass and drum solos towards its conclusion and all three players are both wiry and supple on "Universal Constant." When Hébert's opening "Creep" is reprised at the disc's close, it recalls an Art Ensemble Of Chicago feeling of mournful yearning.

Track Listing: Creep; Thingin'; Do & The Birds; Fenix Culprit; Wels; Sorry; Universal Constant; Creep (reprise).

Personnel: Michaël Attias: alto, baritone sax; John Hébert: bass; Satoshi Takeishi: drums.

Title: Renku In Coimbra | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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