David Sait

Sixty Interpretations of Sixty Seconds by Sixty Solo Improvisers
Apprise Records AP-04

As much a triumph of organization and timbral arrangement as music, this matchless CD is the result of a unique initiative by Toronto-based guzheng player David Sait. During 2009 and 2010 he solicited and collected original 60-second recordings from 60 improvisers he had played with or admired in the past, then knit the results into 10 separate tracks, each of which encompasses improvisations from six of the participants.

Considering that anyone hearing the results wouldn’t realize that each 60-second cut was recorded independently of the others, the suturing is almost faultless. Bearing in mind that contributions came from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Japan, Spain, Australia, Ukraine, France, Belarus, Finland, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Portugal, Belgium, Serbia, Ireland and Italy, the idea that cerebral improvising is universal suggests itself as well.

To take one example, on “9”, the captured voices and textures processed from Ben Roberts’ altered turntables and cassettes in Spain, crackle in such a way that the linkage with Briton Helen Gough’s field recording is palpable. Then the distanced puffs and mouth kisses that characterize Argentinean trumpeter Leonel Kaplan`s improvisation segue into the old-time country music strokes from Canadian Gerry McGoldrick’s shamisen, bleeding into Ronny Kipper’s church organ fanfares in the U.K., and conclude with the pseudo cool and groovy rhythmic pulses created by the whistling and keyboard of Italy’s Alessando Alessandroni.

Premeditation did however go into the selection of tracks and musicians for each section by Sait. The string player, who has developed unique tunings for his guzheng, has in the past performed or recorded with among others, American percussionist Gino Robair – featured on this CD – British bassoonist Mick Beck and American guitarist Eugene Chadbourne – who aren’t. Initially contacting improvisers in batches, he analyzed the sounds that arrived, and, to ensure that the one style or instrumental family wasn’t over-represented, then decided on which other players to approach and include.

Catholic in final execution, so-called ethnic instruments such as Ukrainian tsymbaly and Greek oud share space with more conventional sound makers such as guitars, pianos and saxophones. Unusual juxtapositions illuminate the various tracks in addition, as when the pressurized breaths of American alto saxophonist Joe McPhee abut the kinetic, near-boogie-woogie tinkles of Canadian pianist Michael Snow; or when the decidedly primitive clicks of Ireland’s Rob Coppard’s dedicated bones segue right into the modernist, but still non-tonal scrapes and bumps from Sweden’s Johannes Bergmark’s platform; with both textures fluently complemented by the slide guitar styling of the U.K.’s Philip Gibbs. Sait himself has only one 60-second solo, his multi-stringed plucks and resonations positioned between American Susan Alcorn’s pedal steel guitar twangs and the accordion-like pulsing of Pekko Käppi’s jouhikko from Finland.

This experiment may or may not be repeatable. But it certainly supplies novel and notable listening material with this CD.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. 1, 11, 111, 1111, 11111, 111111 2. 2, 22, 222, 2222, 22222, 222222 3. 3, 33, 333, 3333, 33333, 333333, 4. 4, 44, 444, 4444, 44444, 4444444 5. 5. 5. 55, 555, 5555, 55555, 555555 6. 6, 66, 666, 6666, 66666, 666666 7. 7, 77, 777, 7777, 77777, 777777 8. 8. 88. 888, 8888, 888888, 888888 9. 9, 99, 999, 9999, 99999, 999999 10. 10, 1010, 101010, 10101010, 1010101010, 101010101010

Personnel: 1. Linsey Pollak (rubber glove bagpipes); 11. Chas Smith (copper box); 111. Rachel Arnold (cello); 1111 Fatima Miranda (voice and field recordings); Todd Taylor (banjo) 2. Yurko Rafaliuk (tsymbaly); 22. Jeff Albert (trombone); 222. Laure Chailloux (diatonic accordion) 2222. Leon Gruenbaum (samchillian) 22222. Leanid Narushevich (guitar); 22222, Araz Salek (tar) 3. John Oswald (alto saxophone); 33. Christine Sehnaoui (alto saxophone); 333. Susan Alcorn (pedal steel guitar); 3333. David Sait (guzheng); 33333. Pekko Käppi (jouhikko); 333333. Andrea Centazzo (gong) 4. Misha Marks (prepared guitar); 44. Joana Sá (piano); 444. Martin Grütter (piano); 4444. Paul Dunmall (soprano saxophone); 44444. Joe Sorbara (drums and percussion); 444444. Kyle Bruckmann (oboe) 5. Damon Smith (field recordings, 7-string double bass and laptop) 55. Lawrence Casserley (monoharp, breath and signal processor) 555. John Butcher (soprano saxophone controlled feedback and piano resonator); 5555. Tom Boram (analog modular synthesizer); 55555. Ignatz (guitar, voice and drum); 555555. Helena Espvall (cello and effects) 6. Tim Hodgkinson (clarinet); 66. Beatrix Ward-Fernandez (theramin); 666. Christian Munthe (acoustic guitar); 6666. Mia Zabelka (violin and effects) 66666. Rayna Gellert (fiddle); 666666. Tobias Tinker (harpsichord) 7. Periklis Tsoukalas (oud); 77. Michael Keith (ukulele); 777. Szilárd Mezei (viola); 7777. Gino Robair (metal, glass, plastic, stone and motors); 77777 Joe McPhee (alto saxophone and voice); 777777 Michael Snow (piano) 8. Rob Coppard (bones) 88. Johannes Bergmark (platform ); 88. Philip Gibbs (slide guitar); 888. Aaron Ximm (field recording with broken radio); 88888. Philo Lenglet (prepared acoustic guitar) 888888. Carmel Raz (violin) 9. Ben Roberts (turntables and cassette decks) 99. Helena Gough (field recording); 999. Leonel Kaplan (trumpet) 9999. Gerry McGoldrick (shamisen); 99999. Ronny Krippner (church organ); 999999. Alessandro Alessandroni (keyboard and whistling) 10. Olivia De Prato (violin); 1010. Heribert Friedl (chair); 101010. Robin Hayward (microtonal tuba); 10101010. Bruno Duplant (bass); 1010101010. Mike Smith (hurdy gurdy); 101010101010. Paulo Chagas (oboe)