The jazz quartet of veteran improvisers Mike Johnston, Mike Gilmore (core duet of The Northwoods Improvisers collective with Johnston, since 1976), Mike Khoury (founder of Entropy Stereo) and Kirk Lucas (visual artist and sculptor apart from musician) from Michigan of the USA prepared for us a bundle of surprises this time... The occidental music band that serves improvisation, experiments by mixing western music culture with the "seducing" east in the best manner. With jazz instrumentation as a base (double bass, vibraphone, violin and cello), already introduced with their debut "The Hidden" also on Triple Bath (July 2007), traditional instruments from Africa (inanga, kalimba, marimba), Asia (sho, shakuhachi, cheng, gong), Middle East (saz, tamboura), America (banjo), Central Europe (zither) and various percussion enrich the universal character of "Impermanence", taking the listener from season to season, from culture to culture... from entropy to elsewhere... The inherent twist of the four musicians towards introducing melody at several points of the album, like in the version of Sun Ra’s "When There Is No Sun" and Ahmed Abdul-Malik’s "Maghrebi" is certainly not going to bother any lover of avant-garde music - on the contrary - it will introduce him/her to the album's deeper meanings. However, the entropic, improvisational jazz of this quartet is most likely to be comprehended by even the most uneducated ear, for being a product of thought and purity.
1. Ilam 03:28
2. Tu-Streams 03:46
3. When There Is No Sun 06:22
4. Impartial 05:26
5. Impermanence 05:17
6. African Bells 02:52
7. Yeti Talks to Rumi 07:53
8. Maghrebi 04:49
9. Still Lake 11:53
instrumentation Mike Johnstondouble bass, inanga, sho, shakuhachi, wood flutes, african bells Mike Gilmorevibraphone, cheng, saz, bone guitar, kalimba, bowed percussion, steel drums Mike Khouryviolin, percussion Kirk Lucasvioloncello, guitar, banjo, zither, tamboura, gong, kalimba
by Mike Johnston, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, on December 26, 2007
Themistoklis Pantelopoulos, June 2009
Themistoklis Pantelopoulos, June 2009
based on photos in Agkistri island, June 2009
catalogue number TRB.020
release date June 26, 2009
Josh Landry | Musique Machine | April 2011
Mike Johnston, Mike Gilmore, Mike Khoury and Kirk Lucas have joined forces for "Impermanence", a work of hazy oneiric jazz that extends far beyond the bounds of jazz. Sluggish and incandescent, there is patience to this recording, and natural acoustic beauty. Vibraphone, gamelan percussion, string bass and viola sing out over a backdrop of velvet black.
This music is deeply exotic, cultured, mysterious, and apparently inspired by travels from Africa to Arabia to Saturn. It is saturated with dissonance, but never jagged; bathes the room in rich, colored swells like light through stained glass. Reverb tales are long, a certain refusal to congeal into rhythmic specificity is evident. The playing postulates to my ears, 'it is uncomfortable, yet awkwardly beautiful to endure', exudes acceptance of the unease of impermanence.
Tribute is paid to the complex, exact and solitary deliriums of avant-garde precursors Messiaen, Schoenberg and Boulez in the first 5 tracks, through sickly sweet harmonies. The mindful peace of a new rendition of Sun Ra's "When There Is No Sun" flows out of the speakers like a sudden gentle breeze, complimenting the darker pieces around it perfectly. Then, new instrumentation begins to enter the mix, and we drift completely out of the jazz idiom for the second half of the album.
First to mystic mountain peaks for "Yeti Talks to Rumi": even-toned and interplanar flute intones over a sound like violin bow / sheet metal. The sitar twangs reverently, respectfully. This sustained level of energy implies patience, wisdom. Then, further into the East with "Maghrebi", a percussion dominant composition possessed of the uneven shuffle of a camel's walk, and actually credited to Ahmed Abdul Malik. There is a remarkable authenticity to all of this. Coldly sonorous and lovingly recorded koto closes out the album with "Still Lake". Gusts of wind have us buoying skyward, and soon we stare down at the water from the clouds above Japan. Whimsical glissandos and tonally drifting strings can be heard as we transition to sleep. The music hollows out and dies away.
"Impermanence" is a mature, ambitious and masterfully conceived album that should appeal equally to the most choosy listeners of both free jazz and modern classical music. The surrealistic emotionality and tonal vibrancy of the music should even convert most naysayers to overly 'academic' music.
Dolf Mulder | Vital Weekly | issue 737 | June 2010
'Impermanence' is the second release of Mike Johnston (double bass, inanga, sho, shakuhachi, wood flutes, african bells, shenhai), Mike Gilmore (vibraphone, cheng, saz, bone guitar, kalimba, bowed percussion, steel drums, marimba), Mike Khoury (violin, percussion) and Kirk Lucas (violoncello, guitar, banjo, zither, tamboura, gong, kalimba). In 2007 Triple Bath released the debut of this quartet 'The Hidden'. The instruments these musicians play may give you a hint of what to expect here. Improvised music first of all, but very eastern-flavoured. Not only because of the exotic instruments. But also because of the lines along which the music develops. They even do their best to play them an eastern touch. The closing piece 'Still Life' for example, sounds very chinese in the beginning. Gradually it turns into free impovised music, still using however chinese motives. 'Maghrebi' by Ahmed Abdul Malik has a nice 'swinging' arabic groove. With 'When there is no sun', composed by Sun Ra, these are the only two pieces not composed by themselves. All in all, this quartet makes a very thoughtful and respectful blend of world music and western improvisation. In a very pure and authentic way. The music dwells and meanders like a majestic river through a diversity of landscapes. It definitely fills your mind and body with good spirits.