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«Quartet Music Vol. I: LuMiSong»

The new quartet of American, New York-based alto sax player-composer Michaël Attias played together for the first time during the Great Lockdown of July 2020. At that time, pianist-keyboard player Santiago Leibson, bassist Matt Pavolka and drummer Mark Farber wearing masks while Attias kept a distance of twenty feet from them. This experience overwhelmed Attias with emotion, and he knew that this quartet would record his next album whenever possible.

Eventually, this quartet recorded LuMiSong the next summer, a day after a live-streamed performance at Barbès in Brooklyn before a small audience. This was not the album Attias had in mind so he focused on four out of nine pieces recorded, overdubbed the pieces and mixed each piece as if it was its own album or its own movie. Like sonic collages or mosaics, or as he describes these pieces: psychedelic camel pop, electro-Lacy, alien-Glam, dabke Mingus, or urban Webern.

The four pieces highlight Attias’ sonic imagination as well as his gift of telling engaging yet complex musical stories. The opening piece «#63 (Settled)» references the hexagram 63 of Yi-King (the ancient Chinese Book of Changes), coincidentally the number of Attias’ new home in Washington Heights. Therefore the rhythmic, metric and harmonic materials of this piece were arranged as 2-3-2 over 3-2-3. The following, multi-sectioned and through-composed «Mr Softee Is a Front» is a tale from my Attias’ new neighborhood about the ice cream truck that targets customers for something else than ice cream. «NME» (or «The Enemy») evolves from a quiet and ethereal, chamber piano and double bass duet into a funky groove of the whole quartet. The last piece «Hexway Liner», with cellist Christofer Hoffman, is imagined by Attias as a cruise ship to Hades and employs a similar trichord Anton Webern used in Op 24 (Concerto in twelve-tone for Nine Instruments) that holds the music together while also pulling it apart.

Eyal Hareuveni

Michaël Attias (alto saxophone), Santiago Leibson (piano, keyboards), Matt Pavolka (bass), Mark Ferber (drums), Christopher Hoffman (cello)