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Kazue Sawai / Michel Doneda / Kazuo Imai / L: Une Chance pour l'ombre

AAJ Staff By

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By Ken Waxman

Une Chance pour l'ombre is a rare article—almost fifty minutes of musical sound that exists in its own time and place, informed only by the experiences, sensibilities and consultation of the five improvisers.

During the course of two long improvisations recorded at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in Quebec, the quintet members let their familiarity with one another's boundaries direct their interaction. In terms of ethnic musics, only Kazue Sawai's harp-like arpeggios and extended glissandi occasionally reference the institutionalized role of her instrument, the koto. That said, her intricate flat-picking and scene-setting dense textures are far removed from patterns she would chose in a folkloric situation. Overall, the constantly innovative and undulating result reaches a point of surging inevitability.

Although sometimes speedy, the sounds are not frenetic so much as miasmic. Breath and lip-controlling gestures from Michel Doneda also take many forms. Master of the diminutive, unshowy gesture, he slurs circular-breathed tones at times and reed-biting shrills at others. Faux electro-acoustic peeping chirps and hisses take on the persona of dense, mechanized flutters—meeting similar ululating string lines. In contrast, during the penultimate minutes of "A Chance for Shade," his lip flutters replicate fowl twitters so convincingly that only the thick reverb of the bass and occasional guitar lick reminds you that this isn't an ambient record of aviary sounds.

At times beyond category, Une Chance pour l'ombre defines improv of a particular time and place.


Track Listing: Une chance pour l'ombre; A Chance for Shade.

Personnel: Michel Doneda: soprano, sopranino saxophone; Kazuo Imai: guitar; Kazue Sawai: koto; Tetsu Saitoh: bass; L

Title: Une Chance pour l'ombre | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Victo


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