East-West Collective – “Humeurs” – [Rogueart]
International group, as the name implies. Miya Masaoka and Larry Ochs represent the Bay Area improv scene as they join forces with Didier Petit and Sylvain Kassap of France and Xu Fengxia of China. Seven pieces of music, composed I believe but with ample room for inspired improvisations by the group. Ochs (saxes) and Kassap (clarinets) provide the reeds part of the conversation, Masaoka (koto) and Fengxia (guzheng) make lovely, interesting sounds with their traditional Asian string instruments, and Petit sort of ties it all together with his unusual cello style. Petit and Fengxia also do some vocals. Each player shows tasteful restraint; there is a lot of open space here and nobody tries to take over. It’s cool that five players with such different backgrounds and styles can find common ground and make coherent musical statements like these.