Masashi Harada

Enterprising Mass of Cilia

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    7
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Recorded 15 months after Enter the Continent, the Masashi Harada Condanction Ensemble's second session for the British label Emanem proposes further realizations of its leader's concept of "condanction" -- conducting an improvising ensemble through dance -- with a partly revised lineup. Nmperign's Greg Kelley (trumpet) and Bhob Rainey (soprano sax) are still there, along with bassist Mike Bullock and violinist Aleta Cole. String players Fred Vider, Glynis Lomon and Vic Rawlings, Jonathan Vincent (accordion), James Coleman (theremin) and Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion) fill the vacant chairs. Once again, the compact disc medium brings us only the audio results of the experience. The process itself, which resides in Masashi Harada's bodily interaction with the musicians (more than a visual performance element but a channel of communication, a way of playing), remains hidden and the listener is left to his or her own imagination to picture Harada's condanction. At first, the music can bring to mind the London Improvisers Orchestra. Each piece evolves with a life of its own, alternating between ensemble surges and individual breakaways, delicate textural techniques and rambunctious free for alls. The album begins and ends with a few mid-length ensemble pieces (between six and 14 minutes long) featuring the riveting group dynamics and endless creativity of these (mostly young) improvisers. The middle-third of the CD consists of short pieces for sub-groups, including features for Vincent and Rawlings, where Harada's conduction focuses on something more lyrical. Kelley and Coleman shine throughout, their contributions responsible for some of the most memorable moments on the disc. On the other hand, one wishes a second percussionist would have been present, as Nakatani is unable to provide the level of activity some pieces would call for (in "Distance Propitiate," for instance). This is a good second opus, not particularly better or weaker than the first.

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