Rummaging through my archive I found this pair of CDs sent by the ever-lovely Amy Denio. The accompanying card contained a wish for the New Year, written in Italian… and dated January 2009. Perdonami, Amy!
THE TIPTONS SAX QUARTET – Laws Of Motion
A co-production with Jessica Lurie’s Zipa! imprint, Laws Of Motion comprises a full hour of classic Tiptons. When reed ensembles are involved, one usually knows what to expect: Urban Sax for minimalist droning power, ROVA for dissonant intricacy, The Tiptons for technically advanced fun. Lurie and Denio, together with Sue Orfield and Tina Richerson plus drummer Chris Stromquist, are specialists in remodelling the influence of time-honoured airs, with preference going to Klezmer-cum-Balkan permutations of dance music, bionic tarantellas and suchlike. No precautions necessary for enjoying the stuff, which – replete with attractive contrapuntal adjacencies and odd metres – maintains a bright-and-breezy spirit (with rare wistful hues) even in the most complex sections. If anything, I’d have rendered the record more concise by cutting off the “easiest” tracks, in order to increase the album’s efficiency and overall relevance. It’s still an ear-pleasing, soul-warming, unproblematic listen.
CAMPHOR TREE SCHOOL STUDENTS – Naruwan: Brazil Meets Taiwan
Speaking of heartening curiosities, how about this? Half a decade ago, Denio was invited in Taiwan where he met Gordon Tsai, leader of Dream Community, which had hosted the 2006 edition of the Taipei Blues Festival. Accepting a “surreal commission” by Tsai – who is totally infatuated with samba parades – she spent months arranging traditional Taiwanese melodies for an ensemble of youngsters (age between 12 and 15) who were also taught Brazilian rhythmic rudiments. The results, fused with a handful of field recordings, extemporaneous situations and some demos, is an Amyable (couldn’t resist) concoction of local folk – including a couple of attempts at a peculiar type of rap – imbued with South American condiments, performed with such naiveté and untainted joy that you can’t pretend of remaining grim-faced. More a document than an actual artistic statement, this CDR elicits a measure of hope through the voices, the candour and the general enthusiasm of young boys and girls who really sound as the world’s evils are just insignificant extraneous presences in their effervescent contentment.