Amsterdam is a second home for Canadian, Vancouver-based pianist-composer Lisa Cay Miller (She has a PhD in composition), the artistic director of the Vancouver- based improvisers NOW (New Orchestra Workshop) ensemble and orchestra. She has been visiting Amsterdam regularly since 2010, forming fruitful collaborations with some of the great improvisers from the vibrant local scene, among them viola player Ig Henneman, flutist Anne La Berge, double bass player Wilbert De Joode and younger ones as guitarist Jasper Stadhouders, drummer George Hadow and sax player John Dikeman.
«682/681», after the KLM flight numbers between Vancouver and Amsterdam, is a set of 22 concise duos of trios of Miller with ten Amsterdam-based musicians, recorded at the Kleine Zaal along six hours on December 17, 2015. Each hour included two duos and one trio. All were intense, uncompromising improvisations exploring timbre, texture, instrumental color, form and function, featuring Miller’s impressive array of extended piano techniques.
Most of the improvisations are brief, clocking around two minutes and focusing only on one aspect, still all offer many insightful glimpses into the rich and highly personal language of Miller and her inventive techniques. The longer ones, as the first one with soprano sax player Yedo Gibson manage to explore more than timbral search and colors and even suggest a playful-inventive and quite chaotic texture. Guitarists Mark Morse and Stadhouders offer nervous sonic collisions with Miller piano strings while the duo with De Joode explores extended bowing techniques with similar manner of scratching and hammering on the piano strings.
The first improvisation with Hadow and the one with drummer Onno Govaert and de Joode transforms immediately into a tight, coherent compositions. The two brief trio pieces with Henneman and La Berge suggest miniature soundscapes, both are haunting yet different in their spirit, and so is the second duo with Henneman, soon developing a dramatic, playful narrative. The second improvisation with Govaert is a masterful play of fast shifting pulses and resonating sounds. Stadhouders manages to charge his tense interplay with thorny, bluesy undercurrents.
A fascinating musical journey.
Lisa Cay Miller (p), Ig Henneman (viola), Anne La Berge (fl), George Hadow (dr), Yedo Gibson (ss), Mark Morse (g), Jasper Stadhouders (g), Oğuz Büyükberber (cl), John Dikeman (ts), Wilbert De Joode (b), Onno Govaert (dr)