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Monday, May 5, 2008

Ronnie Lynn Patterson & Didier Lasserre - The Gernika Suite (Amor Fati, 2007) ****

Ronnie Lynn Patterson is a classical and a jazz pianist. On this album, he evocates together with drummer Didier Lasserre the bombing and destruction of the town of Guernica in Spain by a joint strike force of the regimes of nazi Germany and Italy in 1937. This is a sad piece of music. You would expect a hard and violent rendition of the bombing itself, but there's nothing of the sort on this beautiful and quiet album. Only in the second track does the drums indicate something of more percussive power and a, albeit short, march-like rhythm. The music depicts and evokes the stillness after the destruction, the dust settling, the quietness of the dead, the shock, numbness and perplexity of the survivors, unable to realise what just happened, the ultimate devastation ... There is nothing of the mythic suggestive expressive violent suffering as in the famous Picasso painting, yet there are some ressemblances. The painting is in black and white, the music here consists of two instruments, reducing the musical texture to its bare minimum. The cause of the suffering is not depicted in Picasso's painting, nor is it here, because the bombing itself is meaningless, it's the result that's terrible. But the music here is more intimate, much less expansive, with lots and lots of empathy and compassion. An excellent album.