CHANT | SEHNAOUI
Tom Chant | soprano sax
Sharif Sehnaoui | acoustic guitar
|01 | US THREE | 20.55
02 | FOUR SPUTNIK | 21.34
03 | WHAT ABOUT SEVEN? | 24.36
all music improvised by tom chant and sharif sehnaoui
no cuts | no overdubbing
recorded on 28th of april 2005 at sharif’s flat, rue lhomond, paris
recorded and mastered by stéphane rives
artwork and design by mazen kerbaj
produced in lebanon by al maslakh
CD LINER NOTES
Referring to Capitals when speaking about music may somehow sound “cliché”, but how to deny their relevance when speaking about a recording made in Paris by two musicians coming from London and Beirut?
To be precise, we should first say that Sharif could be considered more as a figure of the Parisian scene than as a Lebanese improviser, even though he is one of the founders of the Beirut scene (is there a real specificity to Lebanese improv anyway?).
Could this album then be considered as a synthesis of the English & French improv styles? The answer is yes, but…
YES, Tom Chant is a major voice of the new London scene, opening new possibilities for the soprano saxophone in a country that gave a huge contribution to the history of this instrument with the likes of Evan Parker & John Butcher.
BUT, are we not tempted to think more of Michel Doneda when listening to this recording? Chant’s playing is actually highly innovative and quite unique to be compared with any of his older (and younger) colleagues, but he shares with the French musician something of a similar approach to sound and to its placement in the space/time.
YES, Sharif Sehnaoui’s music is very representative of today’s Paris sound.
BUT, one could argue that he is the most English on this session with his constantly changing ideas, a strong focus and very fast response to all the events happening around him.
This music is then the result of a strange alchemy between the sounds of two of Europe greatest capitals and, even if we started by diminishing Beirut’s influence on Sharif’s playing, the ghost of the eastern capital’s chaotic soundscapes comes back and forth throughout the three tracks, especially with the various automatic rifle attacks of… Tom Chant!
Finally, one could wonder why the CD is entitled Cloister. Is this some kind of religious music? Alas! The real answer is much more down to earth: the session was actually recorded at Sharif's flat, located on the site of an old cloister in Paris.
Mazen Kerbaj, May 2006
This is a soprano sax/acoustic guitar session recorded at Sehnaoui's apartment in Paris, which is near an old cloister. The record comprises three long improvisations whose grammar derives from an obstinate research for uncharted areas of intelligent needlework, thus fertilizing the ground for new contiguities between the percussive resonance of instruments. The results achieved by this duo through the application of extended techniques bring the whole thing to shine, and quite often. Chant's saxophone creates its illusoriness through reversible hoarseness and chirping tremolos, yet at the same time his playing is radioscopic, bringing out all the multiphonic sensibility at the right moments while eradicating any immunity from its almost probabilistic aesthetic. Sehnaoui's technical clothing exploits every particle of his guitar; he fills gaps with wooden friction, string detuning and relaxed responsiveness. Gentle bumps and muffled roars respond to Chant's calls without hurry, and listening to the Lebanese artist hit the strings with random jauntiness in the third section, with the saxophonist bouncing around those semi-chords like an excited peeping bird, adds a pinch of salt to an already appetizing recipe.
Massimo Ricci | Touching Extreme
[...] The same can be said about 'Cloister' by Tom Chant on soprano sax and Sharif Sehaoui on acoustic guitar. I was especially charmed here by the playing of Tom Chant. An exceptional and very emotional player, who is in good company here with Sharif Sehnaoui. In three 20-minute dense improvisations, they chose patiently direction, but with very alert mind and playing that is to the point. Recordings were made at the flat of Sehaoui, who lives in Paris since 1996. Here he devotes himself completely to improvised music, which implies that he is engaged in several ensembles and projects.
Dolf Mulder | Vital Weekly
Saxofonist Chant uit Londen en gitarist Sehnaoui uit Libanon gaan hier op ouderwets doortastende klankexploratie, met veel aandacht voor elkaars dynamiek. De sopraan-saxofonist let vooral op de relatie geluid en ruimte, terwijl de gitarist veel werkt met variaties in het timbre van zijn instrument. Chant werkt graag met korte, droge geluiden, zelden uitmondend in spel waarin de saxofoon op een meer traditionele manier te horen is. Sehnaoui strijkt en wrijft driftig met allerlei gebruiksvoorwerpen, maar van de klankkast van zijn instrument merkt de luisteraar ook al vrij weinig.
Dat levert soms een ongemakkelijk, want niet altijd even rustig klankbeeld op. Compen-satie vinden we echter geheel in de boeiende wisselwerking tussen de musici, die voort-durend minder voor de hand liggende keuzes maken. Zo worden leuke grappen met rit-mische patronen gesuggereerd in het laatste stuk. De drie lange improvisaties zijn geheel verschillend qua opbouw en klank, maar vergelijkbaar qua dynamiek en intensie. Wie in is voor jonge, originele klankexperimentatoren, moet toch eens deze cd beluisteren.
Jazz en meer
One of the most welcome developments in free improvisation has been the desire to let the textures of sound suggest new structures and new ways of playing. This is partly due to necessity, for the gesture of throwing out the rule book no longer holds the same radical power, and partly due to the fact that improvisers don't have to make everything sound like a fight anymore, as the astringent sounds of free improv's first generation are now familiar. So now improvisers like the soprano saxophonist Tom Chant and the guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui can produce these three 20-minute meditations using only the extended techniques of their instruments. Their sound is not deconstructive but constructive, they sound purposeful rather than merely aggressive.
When they hit upon a new sound combination they don't run from it, they dive into it, work it over, set it aside and often return to it. This way each piece finds a base. "Four Sputnik" revolves loosely around a muted passage where Chant overblows gentle harmonics or falls into microscopic percussive tones and Sehnaoui brushes and scrapes out responses, utilizing what sounds like the entire body of his guitar. Various directions emerge from these passages, and eventually the pair finds their way back.
Chant and Sehnaoui use only acoustic instruments, with absolutely no effects, and they still produce a document that views the world from inside the hard drive, so internalized are the moods and so alien the sounds. But this digitalness, this ability to atomize and break down their ideas while retaining a sense of the whole, also shows up in how the duo have channeled their ideas into coherent statements, 20-minute excursions that aren't only about some mercurial being-in-the-moment but welcome a narrative - however abstract the elements - that has a beginning, middle and end. "Us Three" opens with both creative fluttering and forward motion, which halfway through becomes a metallic drone of feedback-high pitches from the sax and scraping motion on the guitar, then fragments into a terse exchange while retaining the essential attack, only to come full circle to the opening. This circular quality is what ultimately lets a listener in to the pair's inner world and encourages one to return.
Matthew Wuethrich | Dusted Magazine
Beirut is a cosmopolitan city that has a free Improv scene - or did until quite recently. Its Irtijal festival was the occasion for the studio date in July 2005, featuring Lebanese double-bassist Raed Yassin and American bass clarinetist Gene Coleman . And Beirut's Al Maslakh label was created "to publish the unpublishable in the Lebanese artistic scen". All music is improvised and presented without cuts or overdubbing.
While Yassin is less of a known quantity, Gene Coleman has worked with Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Roscoe Mitchell, Jim O'Rourke, Tny Conrad and Gastr Del Sol. He also directs Ensemble Naomnesia, a new music group that has worked with Sciarrino, Crumb, Ferrari and Lachenmann. The duo launch into Adventures with a furious assault - both are phenomenal players - and produce urgent, busy Improv with a strong theatrical dimension. Bass clarinet and arco bass blend particulary well, and Yassin is a master of extended techniques.
Even so, my preference goes to the quieter, subtler soundworld of Cloister , which presents London's Tom Chant on soprano sax ans Sharif Sehnaoui on acoustic guitar. Though no longer based in Lebanon, Sehnaoui is one of the founders of the Beirut scene, and the disc was recorded in 2005 at his Paris flat - the title comes from its location on the site of an old cloister, though monastic stillness settles over many passages here. But the results are not exactly reductionist. Though Chant, a longtime member of the Eddie Prevost's trio with John Edwards, makes extensive use of silence, essentially he follows up the possibilities for soprano sax created by Steve Lacy, Evan Parker and John Butcher. Painstaking attention to quiet sounds, especially in the highest register of the soprano, and slow scrapping or brushing of the guitar strings create a rapt air of expectancy, while lowing sounds are complimented by what sound like detuned boomings. The two protagonists sustain a high level of inventive sonic counterpoint over the 66 minute disc.
Andy Hamilton | Wire