Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Liudas Mockunas & Ryoji Hojito - Vacation Music (NoBusiness Records, 2010)

This is an interesting album, two musicians from different cultures who find common ground in improvisation and make an exciting and thought provoking album in the process. Japanese pianist (also using percussion and voice) Ryoji Hojito met saxophonist and bass clarinetist Liudas Mockunas for an compelling musical dialogue. Recorded half in the studio and half in concert the performance begins with "Sunday" which is a short prelude for saxophone or bass clarinet and piano, with the music developing in a probing and swirling manner. "Monday" opens with spare piano and chimes, soon joined by long and longing tones of saxophone, patiently spinning a tale. The music has echoes of regret and opportunities lost, but the melancholy mood is broken when the pace picks up dramatically toward the end of the performance, becoming loud and free. "Tuesday" has brief deep honks of baritone plumbing the musical depths like sonar around shaken light percussion. They develop a probing improvisation using open space to frame the music. Spare, searching saxophone begins "Wednesday" developing spontaneously with light percussion and responding in real time as the music develops. Mockunas digs deeper with his horn and soon raw and lengthy peals of saxophone are ripping the air, building to an ecstatic conclusion. "Thursday" is the longest piece on the album, developing several sections over the course of sixteen minutes. Beginning quietly with squeaks and grunts, the music moves into an abstract dialogue for dark toned piano and saxophone, building and responding to each other. There is a lengthy free exposition for saxophone and piano, before downshifting to a quiet spacious setting. Deep emotional horn builds in at the end over what sounds like either accordion or organ (unlisted in the notes) before Ryoji Hojito returns to piano for the final dialogue. "Friday" sneaks in and probes slowly with saxophone and shaken percussion, haunting like an incantation or ceremony, open and spacious, developing with great patience and concentration. Rippling light piano is featured, saxophone enters majestically and builds to a strong duet conclusion. "Saturday" is the finale that begins in a slow and quiet fashion, with raw sounding saxophone building up against light percussion. Abstract and challenging, the music encapsulates much of what makes this performance so interesting. Musicians coming together with no preconceived notions and creating singular and unique art in the moment. Vacation Music - NoBusiness Records

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