Monday, March 28, 2011

CD of the Week - "Dennis Rea: Views from Chicheng Precipice"

CD of the Week Dennis Rea: "Views from Chicheng Precipice" (MoonJune)

Rating: ***** (music performance & sound quality)

1. Three Views From Chicheng Precipice (after Bai Juyi) 9:56
2. Tangabata 15:55
3. Kan Hai De Re Zi ("Days by the Sea") 3:41
4. Aviariations on "A Hundred Birds Serenade thePhoenix" 6:51
5. Bagua ("Eight Trigrams") 10:35

DENNIS REA - electric and resonator guitars, melodica, Naxi jaw harp, kalimba, dan bau (Vietnamese monochord)
GREG CAMPBELL - drums, percussion
JAMES DEJOIE - bass flute, bamboo flute, bass clarinet
STUART DEMPSTER - trombone, conch shell
WILL DOWD - drums, percussion
JOHN FALCONER - shakuhachi
JAY JASKOT - drums
PAUL KIKUCHI - percussion

Track 1 composed by Dennis Rea; tracks 2-5 traditional, arranged by Dennis Rea. Recorded between 2006 and 2008 in Seattle. Produced by Dennis Rea.
Total Time: 46:59

Internationally acclaimed for his work with art-rock juggernaut Moraine (MoonJune Records MJR028) and free-jazz provocateurs Iron Kim Style (MJR031), guitarist and composer Dennis Rea presents a completely different but equally compelling facet of his musical personality with his most ambitious release to date, "Views From Chicheng Precipice." A key presence on the Pacific Northwest creative music scene for decades, Dennis Rea was also a pioneer in introducing modern jazz, adventurous rock, and experimental music to Chinese audiences, as detailed in his book "Live at the Forbidden City: Musical Encounters in China and Taiwan." While living in both locales from 1989 to 1993 and on subsequent concert tours and travels, Rea became deeply enamored of the traditional music of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

"Views from Chicheng Precipice" is Rea’s homage to the music of East Asia, a collection of uniquely personalized interpretations of traditional pieces and original Asian-inspired works, performed by some of the Pacific Northwest’s most renowned instrumentalists, including trombone avatar Stuart Dempster and koto master Elizabeth Falconer. Blending striking arrangements of ancient and contemporary themes with sonic experimentation and expansive improvisation, "Views from Chicheng Precipice" is at once boldly unorthodox in its choice of instrumentation and treatment of traditional musical material, and warmly respectful of its sources. The result is a sonorous and surprising listening experience that goes far beyond typical attempts at ‘East-West fusion.’

“In formulating these arrangements of some of my favorite Chinese, Taiwanese, and East Asian ethnic minority pieces, I sometimes chose to honor traditional formal constraints, e.g., limiting improvisers to a particular set of scale tones, or eschewing the use of Western-style functional harmony," Dennis says. "In other cases I threw custom to the winds—harmonizing passages, employing atypical instrumentation, and incorporating noise, chromaticism, free improvisation, and amplification—while striving to remain faithful to the spirit of my models. The project is my ‘love letter’ to a part of the world that has enriched my life immeasurably, musically and otherwise.”

Dennis Rea's adventurous guitar playing blends modern jazz, creative rock, experimental music, and world musical traditions into an approach that is uniquely his own, marked by haunting lyricism, enigmatic textures, agile improvisation, and the raw dynamism of rock. Over the years he has led or been a key contributor to such innovative groups as Moraine, Land (with Jeff Greinke), Stackpole, Iron Kim Style, Savant (with K. Leimer), Earthstar (produced by Klaus Schulze), Identity Crisis, and Ting Bu Dong.

He has performed or recorded with such prominent creative musicians as acclaimed French composer Hector Zazou, Dutch jazz legend Han Bennink, trombone virtuoso Stuart Dempster, and godfather of Chinese rock Cui Jian, as well as with members of King Crimson, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Ministry, and the Sun Ra Arkestra. He has collaborated with many of the most important figures in contemporary Chinese music and was one of the first Western musicians to record an album for the state-owned China Record Company. Artist website:

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