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Fly Fly Fly 08:44


Intakt CD 092

Three San Francisco Bay Area masters come together here to play music composed by Larry Ochs for the unusual trio of saxophone, cello, and Japanese koto. Joan Jeanrenaud resigned from Kronos in 2000 and moved quickly into the world of structured improvisation. Her beautiful cello playing on this CD shines. Miya Masaoka, on this, her third CD with Ochs, once again stands out on koto, stretching the boundaries of the instrument while holding down the center of the music. Larry Ochs, founding member of Rova who has also performed and recorded with Intakt artists Anthony Braxton, Barry Guy, Andrew Cyrille, and Marilyn Crispell, contributes the heartfelt compositions and some amazing saxophonics.

"For his debut recording with former Kronos Quartet cellist Joan Jeanrenaud and koto master Miya Masaoka, Rova Saxophone Quartet's Larry Ochs composed four extended works for improvisation that compel the players to be both quick-thinking and full-feeling. On the album's title track and on "Mystery Street," Ochs set up structures to tell his bandmates how and when -- but not always precisely what -- to play: The ambience (if not often the exact notes) is established in advance. This gives the tunes their distinctive characters while allowing the musicians enough freedom to interact spontaneously. As a result, both tracks cohere with a sophisticated musical logic yet develop lush, emotional cores -- woeful, haunted cello, hallucinatory koto (which at times sounds like an ethereal harp from the Magic Kingdom), and variously soulful or attitudinal sax.

The 23-minute centerpiece, "Heart of the Matter," uses a more complicated system that combines traditional notation and so-called graphic scores -- pictographs that, according to Ochs' liner notes, instruct the players to create "simple" or "complex" musical phrases at calculated points throughout the piece. This dynamic compositional technique adds an extra element of strategic silences, which function almost as a fourth bandmate, off which the other instrumentalists take their cues. The effect is a heady mix of deep breathing and breathlessness, a kind of restive serenity.

The CD's closing track, "It Happened One Night," also employs a variety of guidelines for improvisation that the musicians are instructed to work through at their own pace. Because each instrumentalist can choose to play a certain section for any length of time, some striking contrasts emerge, say, between the horn's pointillistic tones and the strings' intensely layered drones, as the musicians navigate labyrinthine cerebral passages while listening to each other and responding empathetically. In the end, Fly Fly Fly's organic integration of head and heart creates a rare beauty that's as smart as it is poignant.
Sam Prestianni, sfweekly, USA, April 21, 2004


released January 1, 2004

Larry Ochs: Tenor and Sopranino Saxophones
Joan Jeanrenaud: Cello, Sampling on track 4 only
Miya Masaoka: Koto, Electronics on track 4 only

All compositions by Larry Ochs, TROBAR (ASCAP) administered by BUG. Recorded on October 9, 10, 2001 and July 24, 2002 (and mastered in 2003) at Headless Buddha Studio in Oakland, California. Engineer: Myles Boisen
Produced by Larry Ochs and Intakt Records. Published and copyright by Intakt Records


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