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Klang. Farbe. Melodie.
Jazz Review magazine
Roger Thomas

Vinkeloe and even Robair have always struck me as closet swingers when pitching into improvisation (although if handed a swing number they'd no doubt bend it into amusing shapes), and that's very much in evidence on this generally excellent disc. Just occasionally, a group still manages to improvise in a way that makes it sound as if the whole idea of making music up as you go along was only discovered yesterday (a phenomenon I last detected on the DJUstable DVD on Phono Suecia in 2003, since you ask); this is one such. Either because of the aforementioned penchant or not, stylistically this music owes much to free jazz, with some of the best moments being when the other players realise this too; there's one particularly glorious instance when Masaoka repeatedly thwacks an enormous chord out of her instrument which is pure Cecil Taylor (only on, y'know, a koto).

The pieces are all very short, as you've no doubt surmised, which in itself is broadly commendable given that few things are more depressing than improvisations that go on too long. In a few cases here, though, brevity borders on conceit, and there are several instances where the time constraints nearly turn the concept into a novelty. I have fond memories of Billy Jenkins' ‘Big Fight' performances (in which improvised duets were brought to an abrupt end by a boxing-ring bell), not least because the idea said a great deal about what can happen when artificial restrictions are imposed upon such music. This, however, is the only pickable nit in what is overall a lively, alert and extremely articulate piece of work which I'll be revisiting often. Shame it's been in the can for four years, though.

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