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På skive



American drummer Brian Chase, of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs fame and the head of Chaikin Records, first encountered the music of pianist-composer Anthony Coleman about twenty years ago and was immediately fascinated by Coleman’s «true mix of the intellectual and instinctual infused with a big dose of joy». Coleman was already one of the prominent figures of the New York downtown scene and has played with John Zorn (including in the iconic Ennio Morricone tribute, «The Big Gundown», Elektra, 1986), Glenn Btance (including on his debut album, «Lesson No. 1», 99 records, 1980), Elliott Sharp, Marc Ribot and many others. Coleman and Chase performed together for the first time as a duo in 2008 and immediately felt unexpectedly strong chemistry. Coleman was inspired by the way Chase hit the overtones that match and echo the chords and sonorities that he was playing. Since 2012 they have furthered their psychic-level connection through a series of free-improv performances at various venues and spaces in New York.

The free-improv performances led to the pre-pandemic recording of «Arcades», the debut album of Coleman and Chase as a duo, with a title that refers to philosopher Walter Benjamin’s literary opus «The Arcades Project», a labyrinthian text profiling Parisian urban life. The five spontaneous and conversational pieces capture the melodious and abstract constellations of Coleman’s ping-pong apace with the distinctive drumming of Chase. Like Benjamin’s opus, «Arcades» is a series of labyrinthian textures, ecstatic, freewheeling and deeply expressionistic. Chase describes their work process as «ultimately subservient to the music itself for which we are its devoted shepherds». And, obviously, «Arcades» reflects Coleman’s unique sense of fusing the intellectual and the instinctual with generous doses of fun.

Coleman and Chase experiment with their different improvisation strategies. The opening title is fast-shifting and energetic, hinges on a radical shift of contrasts and solidify the immediate affinity and telepathic understanding of these gifted improvisers. «Divagations» is more sparse and Coleman and Chase’s dialog focuses on subtle yet challenging sonic variations, patiently becoming more varied and more ecstatic. «Crepuscule» is introspective and impressionistic and explores a delicate and resonant dialog. «Momentary Come – On» is a playful, restless and totally intuitive conversation. The last improvisation «With Cunning» tells about the clever and freewheeling nature of Coleman and Chase’s dialog, teasing and provoking each other but always having fun.

Eyal Hareuveni  

Anthony Coleman (p), Brian Chase (dr) 

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