Lee Pui Ming

Who's Playing

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Recorded in the studio on two separate occasions in the spring and fall of 2001, this album takes listeners ever so much closer to Lee Pui Ming's universe. The tiny pianist can unravel a fantastic level of energy (think over Cecil Taylor). Her playing gets very physical, enough to justify the inclusion in her credits of "body" alongside piano and voice. Standing away from classical and jazz idioms, her vocabulary taps into the heart of free improvisation. The solo pieces (seven out of ten) all showcase different aspects of her work. In "Torso," she stomps on the floor, an action that extends admirably the intensity of the music. In "Steps" she pounces mercilessly on the piano keys, her clusters unleashing bestial furry. "Silica," "Sinews," and "Belly of the Beast" are more tempered and make use of the piano's innards as she plays directly on the strings. Three pieces feature singer and alto saxophonist Joane Hétu. The 30-second "Greetings" is exactly that: a salutation, a promise of things to come. The two other, longer tracks appear at the end of the album. They reveal an intense current passing between the two women. The 15-minute "On Your Feet" includes very quiet passages in which Hétu holds the listener into her hand with the tiniest of sounds. Who's Playing is a challenging but much rewarding album. Simply put, it's beautiful.

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