Translations brings together two experimental improvisers, sound artists and scholars – Swiss-French tenor sax player Bertrand Denzler (who co-authored the book The Practice of Musical Improvisation – Dialogues with Contemporary Musical Improvisers, Bloomsbury, 202o, with French sax player Jean-Luc Guionnet) and American, Zürich-based electronics player, guitarist, vocalist and percussionist Jason Kahn (whose last book, Soundings, 2022, explores the sounds of Zürich).
Denzler and Kahn’s free improvised meeting was recorded live at Tiasci, Paris in December 2021. Khan, who focuses here only on electronics, was in charge of the recording, mixing and mastering. These experienced improvisers are well-versed in the art of the moment and with such kinds of intimate meetings. The 35-minute title piece searches for common ground between the subtle, extended breathing techniques of Denzler, including the fragile and fragmented multiphonics, and the raw electronics of Kahn. Slowly and patiently, the delicate variations of ethereal, acoustic sounds correspond with the white noise, and electronic sounds, commenting and expanding the other’s sonic spectrum, and this abstract dialog sketches more and more common threads, including fleeting and brief rhythmic patterns.
Translations demand a total command of the acoustic instrument and the electronic devices as well as a free sonic imagination and great focus. This abstract improvisation reminds us of the suchness and of sounds – air being blown through a metal tube and different usage of electric power and short circuits, as well as how these fascinating sounds interact and create an open and free language of their own. A sonic lesson for all of us.
Bertrand Denzler (ts), Jason Kahn (elec)