Wu Man is an internationally recognized Chinese pip'a (four-stringed instrument) artist. Here, she teams with Chicago bassist Tatsu Aoki, whose Japanese heritage and acute jazz vernacular provide an interesting framework for the concepts explored here. With this release, the duo is captured live at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Throughout these 12 works, the listener will be treated to a series of intuitive collaborations made up of the musicians' intricately constructed dialogues. The duo works through various Asian modalities, but there's quite a bit of improvisation going on. They even execute a theme on the piece titled "New Eight Beat," which spurred notions of what could loosely seem like an Asian spin on American bluegrass. Aoki lays down a hypnotic ostinato vamp on "Stick Journey," where the two interweave 4/4 tempos into a nimbly articulated series of movements. To that end, the artists embark upon a rather sprightly rite of passage into a world awash with a sense of enchantment and intrigue. However, it's not all about exploring various tonalities. The instrumentalists raise the ante on several occasions during this rather enticing program.
AllMusic Review by Glenn Astarita