Gary Husband & Markus Reuter, Blaer, Giorgi Mikadze
Gary Husband & Markus Reuter – Music of Our Times (MoonJune, 2020)
So close is the music in Music of Our Times to the place it was born, that it is easy to make a comparison between the mood of the both. This album, recorded in one day on March 3rd 2020, in Shinjuku, Japan by pianist Gary Husband and touch guitar player Markus Reute, released on MoonJune, is a tribute to both our times and to that kind of mood in Japanese minimalism. So I found the perfect companion in the 1983 album by Hiroshi Yoshimura, Music for Nine Post Cards, which is incidentally the masterpiece of Japanese minimalism: both sharing a feeling of relentless rumination over medidative states of mind.
The compelling need to stretch every musical event to its essential is the baseline. Everything that happens in this duo recording is almost an athematic, cadenza-less, tapestry of milky sounds interspersed with very few modulations. The Eno-inspired piano theme in the opening Colour of Sorrow drives the track for almost the 10-minutes, with Reuter glancing from the background. While the few bluesy and slow phrases in the middle of the track sound enticing, it is Husband‘s occasional glitches at the piano pedalboard to sound even more evocative. Across the Azure Blue is opened by a serie of pleasantly suspended chords, with Husband again exploring the beautiful resonant colors of his Fazioli piano.
A music evidently born out of strange times, that might be a naive explanation. Yet, the duo was born out of an unlucky tour that Stick Men (Levin, Mastelotto and Reuter) embarked with Husband in Japan. When all dates but the first were cancelled, producer Leonardo Pavkovic was kindly by Shunji Saegusa, the bass player of the Japanese prog-fusion band Kenso, in finding a studio for this unforeseen studio recording. Music of Our Times, is the celebration of a minimal and intimate meditation, looking at a strange moment of history from a different perspective.
Gary Husband & Markus Reuter
Music of Our Times
1.Colour Of Sorrow 10:32
2.Across The Azure Blue 07:07
3.Music of Our Times 06:35
4.A Veiled Path 08:37
5.White Horses (for Allan) 09:07
6.Illuminated Heart 08:56
Gary Husband: Fazioli F212 Grand Piano
Markus Reuter: Live Electronics, Touch Guitars® AU8
Recorded live on 3 March 2020 at NK SOUND STUDIO, Tokyo, Japan
Recording Engineer: Neeraj Khajanchi
Assistant Engineer: Hirokazu Kobayashi
Mixed & mastered by Markus Reuter
All music by Gary Husband and Markus Reuter
Produced by Markus Reuter and Leonardo Pavkovic
Blaer – Yellow (Ronin Rhythm Records, 2020)
There’s a comforting feeling in the tonal, simple and intimate unison standing over the repeated piano chord in Yellow, or in the sketched, confidential way the saxophone delivers few atonal notes in The Unkown, both tracks from Blaer‘s third recording. Imbued with the unfathomable mark of the Swiss postminimalism, the Bern-based quintet, yet, has its own sound. Repetition and consonant chords here seem to hint to a direction slightly different than Nik Bärtsch‘s zen fun, who is incidentally the mastermind behind the label releasing Yellow, or than Ikarus‘s angularities and Sonar‘s aggressiveness. Not to mention that Blaer is headed by Maja Nydegger, who is the piano player also in AKKU Quintet. Yet Blaer has its own mark, much closer to the neoclassical artists, someway closer to the way GoGo Penguin reinterpreted classical within contemporary music.
Founded in 2012 by Nydegger, Blaer now lands in Ronin Rhythm Records to release their most mature effort. Maja Nydegger on piano, Nils Fischer and Claudio von Arx on bass clarinet and saxophone, Simon Iten on double bass and Philippe Ducommun on drums are the members. After having released two albums in 2014 and 2016, now Blaer shows a compelling and confident sound in their third, equipped with a very organic idea on the bottom. Postminimalism is stripped out of any unnecessary element; cadenzas are often moving around a single chord, creating pensive atmospheres, that only occasionally erupt in bursts, that still hold a sort of elegant sombreness. Like in the middle of Kosmo, when a sudden, almost unexpected flurry of thundering bass lines distributed over an odd-rhythmed sequence of beats elitics the overtones of the reeds and the plucking of the piano strings.
Blaer is a different side than the one Nydegger used the audience to in AKKU Quintet: the chamber element allows her piano to take the stage, which she exploits for allowing few, bare elements to surface, sparse notes to create powerful melodies, restraining any proper solo, like in the hints of Epilog. Meditative and repetitive, Yellow is another side of Swiss postminimal exploration of contemporary music.
01. YELLOW 05:50
02. THE UNKNOWN 07:18
03. YEARS 11:13
04. KOSMO 10:04
05. EPILOG 04:46
06. ALL WE NEED 05:13
07. ARKTIS 11:34
LINE UP: Maja Nydegger: piano, composition
Nils Fischer: saxophone, bass clarinet
Claudio von Arx: saxophone Simon Iten: double bass
Philippe Ducommun: drums
All music composed by Maja Nydegger. Album produced by Maja Nydegger and Nik Bärtsch.
Recorded May 2019 at Mazzive Sound Studio Bellmund by Chris Diggelmann.
Mixed by Chris Diggelmann, mastered by Serge Christen.
Album photo by Nassia Kapa, artwork by David Nydegger.
Songs published by Ronin Rhythm Productions & Neonstars Publishing. Supported by Stadt Bern, Kultur Kanton Bern, Burgergemeinde Bern, Stadt Luzern FUKA-Fonds, Migros Kulturprozent.
Giorgi Mikadze – Georgian Microjamz (RareNoise 2020)
Choosing a jazz-rock route has frequently been labeled as an easy way out for artists losing inspiration or lacking a conceptual mindset behind their music. But for a musician who explored microtonality on a instrument so traditionally rooted to the twelve-tone system as keyboard, then it’s quite an odd choice. Yet the powerful, fierce, bumpy grooves delivered by Giorgi Mikadze on Georgian Microjamz, released on RareNoise, are an orgy of juicy microtonal exploration. Funky, georgian folk, hip-hop grooves all collides in this dazzling and unsettling extended harmonic context.
Giorgi Mikadze, classically trained in Georgia, found his perfect counterpart, when studying in Berklee, in David Fiuczynski. The guitarist has devoted a big part of his career in studying, teaching and playing microtonality, from Planet Microjam, through his tribute to J-Dilla and the music of Olivier Messiaen Flim! Blam!, until Mikrojazz, a recorded where he was sided at piano by the same Mikadze. What was there an interesting journey through unexpected cadenzas in the lattest record, here becomes a more organic rendition of what microtonality could serve for, equally balancing folk leanings and fusionesque angularities in a question and answer between those components, which is propelling and revealing at same time.
Where the jazz-rock grooves in Elesa meet the voices of Ensemble Basiani in the most intense moment of the track, or like in Moaning, when the scratchy voice of Nana Vashvili sings an hymn to the 2008′ war between Russia and Georgia that is perfectly matching the slow, distorted and odd-rhythmed comping, the balance between jazz fusion and ethnic elements perfectly meet in the field of microtonality. The opening Dumba Damba joyously combines the music from the Adjarian Mountains with the African grooves, in a result that is both complex-minded and tip-toe tapping. The beautiful and short interludes combine chamber-like moments of intimacy with devotion to georgian roots.
Giorgi Mikadze explores the richness of his own roots with a deep and modern rendition of an ethnic jazz-rock: in Georgia you can walk 10 kilometers and hear a different dialect -the musician says. Sided by David Fiuczynski at fretless guitars, Panagiotis Andreou of Now Vs Now at bass and Sean Wright at drums, he creates and enjoyable and multifaced ethnic exploration of the microtonality.
Giorgi Mikadze – Georgian Microjamz
Giorgi Mikadze: Microtonal Keyboards
David Fiuczynski: Fretless Guitars,
Panagiotis Andreou: Fretless Bass
Sean Wright: Drums
Ensemble Basiani on 4 (Elesa), 12 (Lazhghvash), 13 (Tseruli)
Nana Valishvili on 6 (Moaning)
2 Dumba Damba
3 Shedzakhili (Interlude)
5 Mirangula (Interlude)
7 Racha (Interlude)
9 Gelati (Interlude)
10 Kartlos Blues
11 Gurian Lullaby (Interlude