The EAST-WEST COLLECTIVE will commence its première tour of North America on June 14 at the Vision Festival in New York. Sponsored in part by a generous grant from the French American Jazz Exchange, the Collective’s tour continues to Chicago, San Francisco Bay Area (for two concerts and a recording session), Seattle and Vancouver where it will end at the prestigious Vancouver Jazz Festival on June 23. Complete schedule at the end of this rap.
The artistic goal of The East-West Collective is to combine the contemporary sounds and forms of new jazz with the traditional sounds and sense of time and duration developed over centuries in Eastern music; all blended into a unique musical universe, rife with contemporary improvisational influences and forms. "East West Collective" completed (April 2012) a successful first meeting in France that included four well-received concerts. These first concerts and rehearsals in France were used to explore compositional affinities and improvisational tendencies, and for getting to know each other musically, since band members represent many diverse cultures and languages. The plan now: to solidly establish East-West music as it is conceived in this configuration, with tours in USA and Europe in 2013.
The quintet consists of musicians from France, China and the USA. Larry Ochs (saxophones), Didier Petit (cello) Sylvain Kassap (clarinets), Xu Fengxia (Chinese guzheng; voice) and Miya Masaoka (Japanese koto). We feel that the music we are beginning to develop seeks to retain the integrity of each player's sound and background while integrating the various aspects of sound, timbre, and orchestration of the instruments into a special collective sound-world. The particular sounds of Eastern instruments, and particular traditions of Japan and China, and the European classical instruments of the cello and clarinets, and the tradition of the saxophone in the United States: each has a rich palette of its own. But with the decades of performer-experience in this band, The East-West Collective is already delivering music at a high level, and we look forward to further developing this music in 2013.
The East-West Collective was created by cellist Didier Petit during the French May Festival in Hong Kong in 2005, but as a trio, and that trio has toured every year since that first meeting in continental China. Petit's goal was to create a lasting link between two unique types of music. In fact, the way(s) of playing acoustic instruments in both traditions is not that different, at least from a technical perspective – the play on tones and textures is the most convincing example here. In addition, the use of modes and linear musical structures brings fruitful results in the attempt to merge the sensibilities of two distinct cultures.
Didier Petit – cello
One of the finest players to have come out of Alan Silva's IACP school, cellist Didier Petit has been active on the French free improvisation scene since the mid-'80s. His playing style relies mostly on double-string arco technique. He is also often heard vocalizing on top of his instrument. He performs regularly with Parisian improvisers like Michel Doneda, Daunik Lazro and Denis Colin, and has performed with Sakis Papadimitriou, Roger Turner, Marilyn Crispell and Carlos Zingaro. His best-known group is the quartet NOHC, from the late ‘90s. He is the founder of the new music label In Situ. His newest CD on Rogue Art, entitled Passages is a brilliant CD including Hamid Drake, Marilyn Crispell, Gerald Cleaver, Andrea Parkins, and Nicole Mitchell. http://web.roguart.com/shop/album/id/65
Sylvain Kassap – Bb and bass clarinets
Sylvain Kassap is one of the major figures in jazz and improvised music since the end of the seventies in France, and has long been active in modern and contemporary music in France. He has developed his own personal style, and has played with Michel Portal, Barre Philips, Evan Parker, Sam Rivers and others, and recorded nearly 20 albums as leader or co-leader. He has written music for film, theater and dance, and is also a known and versatile interpreter of modern works (Stravinsky, Varese, Webern) and contemporary composers (Luciano Berio, John Cage, Karlkeinz Stokhausen and Luc Ferrari), and has has worked with the the ensembles Arts Nova , Accrochose and Laorintus. http://www.sylvainkassap.com/
Miya Masaoka -- koto
Miya Masaoka resides in New York City and is an award winning, classically trained musician and composer. Whether performing on the koto, or composing for ensembles, she has worked with leading artists in both jazz, improvised and contemporary music -- Pharoah Sanders, Ornette Coleman, and close collaborations with Andrew Cyrille, Reggie Workman, Steve Coleman, Pauline Oliveros, Joelle Leandre, Vijay Iyer and Fred Frith. Toshiko Akiyoshi has written a piece for her, and she has been a special guest of the Berkeley Symphony. She has been commissioned by Bang on a Can, So Percussion, VOLTI, and Alonzo King. She was the director of the San Francisco Gagaku Soceity for seven years, and a senior student of the late Togi Suenobu, a Japanese Imperial Court Musician who traced his musical lineage for more than 1200 years. She tours to India and Japan regularly, and is a former resident of France. She has studied in the traditional Japanese music schools of Chikushi, Sawai and more recently plays the rare and esoteric one- string koto in the Seikyodo Tradition under Minegishi Issui, a teacher with whom she has studied in both Japan and the USA. http://www.miyamasaoka.com
Xu Fengxia – Guzheng, Voice
Xu Fengxia was born in 1963 in Shanghai, China. She plays multiple Chinese instruments, including the guzheng, the pipa, and Chinese banjo, the “sanxian.” She studied at the Shanghai Conservatory, studying the traditional repertoire of Chinese music. She also played electric bass in the first Chinese all-girl rock band. She has played with numerous improvised musicians, and had a special collaboration with the late Peter Kowald. More than twenty years after leaving Shanghai, she continues to live in Rhenanie-du-nord-Westphalie, near Wuppertal, Germany. She continues to be inspired by the history of Chinese music and the musical experiences of improvisation, touring to China annually. http://www.xu-music.de/
Larry Ochs — sopranino, tenor saxophones
As Executive director of Rova:Arts, Ochs has produced many premiere performances in San Francisco. As a saxophonist he has made more than 30 recordings and 50 tours with ROVA SAXOPHONE QUARTET in North America, Europe and Japan (1977 – present) and composed over 3 dozen works for sax quartet, many with added musicians. Most recent Rova CD: A Short History (2012). http://www.ochs.cc