April 2008

Philadelphia Art Alliance251 S. 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA Map
Price: $15 General Admission
Friday, February 1, 2008 - 8:00pm

Trio M

Myra Melford, piano
Mark Dresser, double-bass
Matt Wilson, drums

Trio M is the collectively led ensemble of Mark Dresser (bass), Matt Wilson (drums), and Myra Melford (piano). After several years of working together in different contexts and talking about forming a trio, Trio M performed their first gig at the Athenaeum in La Jolla, California, in January 2006. Everything about the experience just clicked. A few months later they played several more gigs and then agreed to record Big Picture in December 2006. Big Picture includes compositions by each musician, several of which were originally performed by their own ensembles. However, the character that the music takes on with Trio M is unique. As pianist Myra Melford says, "We enjoy discovering the different qualities evoked and places that the music goes in this particular configuration, among these musical personalities."

It's clear that Trio M is special to each member of the group, and unique in the sense that it is an ensemble of equals. Matt Wilson expresses this sentiment when he says, "I've been a huge fan of Myra and Mark's contributions to modern music over the years, and I was thrilled when the planets aligned and we were able to assemble on the sonic playground. The love and trust of sound guides our journeys, and the results are spiritually rewarding and remarkably fun to witness. Honest music without restrictive borders or unfair classification is evident in the explorations.

Tetuzi Akiyama + Josef van Wissem
Tetuzi Akiyama, nylon string resonator guitar
Jozef van Wissem, ten-course Renaissance lute

Many guitar-players in the contemporary scene take a restrained, not-in-your-face approach to playing the guitar, an approach that is often highly personal and seemingly anti-virtuoso. They bring the guitar in new directions, in areas that maybe even Derek Bailey and Keith Rowe did not touch upon, drawing us even further into the specific sound of the guitar...

Tetuzi Akiyama initiated the famous Off-Site series of improvised music in Tokyo (together with Toshimaru Nakamura), a series that became one of the birth-places of 'silent' electro-acoustic improvisation. As a guitar player Akiyama has performed solo, and cooperated and recorded with, amongst others, Taku Sugimoto, Günther Müller and Jason Kahn.  Sometimes these collaborations lead to very sparse improvisations, with sounds that are on the brink of silence.  Sometimes they resulted in a layering of sound combining bleeps, clicks, and shrieking electronics with relentless, yet not necessarily loud, sounds from Akiyama's guitar. In his playing of both nylon- and steelstring acoustic guitars, and various electric guitars, Akiyama focuses very much on resonance and timbre. This is most apparent on what is without doubt his most appealing release until now: the aptly titled Don't Forget to Boogie (2004). On this LP Akiyama plays the most rudimentary blues-licks often using a distorted guitar sound, restrained and minimal at the same time. Although in his duo with Van Wissem we probably will not hear the 'rock 'n roll'-side of Akiyama (his latest band seems to be called the Satanic Abandoned Rock 'n Roll Society), there is even in Akiyama's playing of the nylon string guitar some sort of grainy, rudimentary influence of the blues - filtered through 40 years of improvised music.

Jozef van Wissem probably plays the most unlikely instrument in the world of contemporary improvised music: the Renaissance lute. He has accomplished the strange feat of bridging the idiom of seventeenth century lute literature and twenty-first century free improv of the silent type - especially in his working duo with Tetuzi Akiyama. Although Van Wissem uses subtle electronic sound manipulation, he has largely stayed faithful to the particular timbre, resonance and playing technique of the lute. This turns out to blend particularly well with Akiyama's prepared guitar. Van Wissem first came to be noticed a few years ago because of his radical conceptual approach to Renaissance lute music: he deconstructed existing compositions, for instance by playing them backwards. He also composed his own pieces for lute, using palindromes and mirrored structures. His music therefore does not have a traditional linear progression, nor leads to a climax, but rather stays on the same level of intensity. His music is quiet and doesn't so much demands concentrated listening as it will bring the listener in a state of concentrated listening - an aspect that makes Van Wissem a natural ally of the current post-reductionist improvising musicians.