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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blaise Siwula - New York Moments (Konnex, 2006) ****

Total improvization is not only a rare thing, it is also a very risky venture, that more often than not is doomed to fail. Yet when it is successful, the result may be very rewarding. And this is certainly the case for this album by the "Total Improvization Unit", led by alto saxophonist Blaise Siwula, and the sequel to the earlier Konnex release "Brooklyn Moments". Nobu Stowe on piano and Ray Sage on drums provide continuity in the line-up, with the addition of guitarist Dom Minasi on this record. Just like on the previous one, the quartet manages to create a very unique sound, very coherent and intense, with interesting excursions in their interplay. The four musicians each play a specific role : Ray Sage is an energetic drummer, who can play very implicitly at times, but with a forceful regularity, Nobu Stowe offers the melodic backbone, Siwula soloes creatively yet very composed, and Dom Minasi acts as a sounding board to Siwula, reacting with short dry notes or with chordal counterpoint. The four musicians play almost the whole time - except on the two trio tracks of course, at times giving the impression to be soloing simultaneously, yet never falling into chaos, with Stowe really acting as a strong anchor to keep it all coherent. The nice thing is that the music is so open-minded, that nearly everything can happen, and with intense listening a unique logic and beauty emanates from the music. This is the kind of music which is hard to put into words for lack of real references for comparison. But I can recommend it to anyone with open ears.