Vinny Golia, Joelle Leandre & Ken Filiano - 
Recorded April 27, 1992 at the Track House in Van Nuys, California.
This collective improvisation, recorded in one day in 1992, is a study in contrasts, textures, and timbral and tonal aesthetics. With Leandre and Filiano both playing bass and Golia playing a host of flutes from all over the world as well as a trio of clarinets, there is in essence a huge palette of colors and moods to choose from. From the eerie opening arco notes Leandre sends out on "Kaprona," with Filiano's quick yet restrained pizzicato bursts, the tone is set for a slow meditation on darkness and even despair. But as the piece goes on and Golia moves from the deeply meditative sonorities of his shakuhachi to an A clarinet, new figures begin to emerge. As the trio begins to move toward one another rather than making brief statements in space, the face of hope begins to reveals itself in a tight series of modulations and pitch variations. Leandre is in control; she is the master of tonal inquiry and pitch control - having held them sometimes for hours in the music of her late companion, the composer Giacinto Scelsi. As her voice begins to ride atop a series of bass chords, the emotion is fleshed out and the tune ends on a note of freely associated questions and possible fissures in the darkness. There are two bass duets here - "None That Are for Hugo" and "Above the Age of Reason" - and while different in approach, the first is a study in catharsis and raw emotion, the second in tonal linguistics; they span the color and texture gamut. Golia has a gorgeous solo opportunity in "Empty Places Where We Walk"; this utilizes Chinese flute and A clarinet and is a study in dynamics and timbral modulation that echoes long after the piece ends. Ultimately, however, it is in the group improvisations that the true spiritual nature of this recording is revealed. Telepathy would be understating the insistent, yet respectful flow of ideas that move through the trio as they map out languages and dialects in order to speak to one another; there are intervallic dialogues, contrapuntal attacks and feints, and shimmering oceans of glissando whispering that make this the musically unclassifiable brilliant recording that it is.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
In his response to a critic in 1915, painter Piet Mondrian spoke of abstraction versus the literal in visual art. To Mondrian, pure abstraction of line was closer to the spiritual plane than a literal rendering of nature. The same can be said about the music on this disc. For this session, the three musicians, reedist Vinny Golia and bassists Ken Filiano and Joelle Leandre, met and improvised as a trio for the second time in their lives. What came out of the session was, yes, very abstract, but at the same time very real and very close to their collective spirit. To borrow from the title of Vinny Golia's first record as a leader, this music was certainly created by spirits in fellowship.
The serendipity of the trio's creation matched the serendipity of the music. In 1992, Leandre came to Los Angeles to begin a solo tour. According to Leandre, "I think it was a challenge to me, and I made it!" Leandre also wished to meet and play with different musicians on this tour. Through friends, new music vocalist and radio show host Bonnie Barnett found out about Leandre's appearence in town, and invited her to speak and play on one of her music programs. When Barnett approached Leandre, the bassist asked if she could improvise with some local musicians. Barnett then suggested Golia and Filiano.
According to Golia, "We met at the radio station and started to play, and everything seemed very familiar. The radio concert was so good that Ken suggested that we go to a studio that he knew. The next day we did." Leandre also felt the obvious vibrations of the trio. "Vinny and Ken are two beautiful musicians, great musicians. It is a pity that with such a long distance between us that we cannot sometimes play with each other. My approach to the music was to be open, free, and in love with the music and the other musicians. I love to meet musicians like that; it's the deep and real, and what you are inside." Again, the spirit clearly presided during this session.
Using some literary and dramatic license, it is fair to say that the music on this session can represent the haunting, awakening, and cleansing of the spirit so that the spirit can attain its purpose here on earth. Obviously, there is a wealth of virtuosity and amazing playing, but that only represents the surface-there is much more at work here.
"Kaprona" is the powerful opening on this disc; in fact, this was the first piece that the trio played in the studio. As the work unfolds, it slowly lifts the spirit from a dungeon of darkness and despair into new light and hope. The piece begins with high, shrill harmonics from Leandre's bass and well-grounded pizzicato statements from Filiano. Golia's initial choice of shakahachi here fits the piece well, as the instrument (a Japanese bamboo flute) was made to express color and emotion rather than melody and harmony. Leandre's playing and certainly the group improvisation seems to reflect Leandre's longtime relationship with the late Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi and his music; much of the initial improvisation seems based around pitches and pitch modulation. According to Leandre, "His (Scelsi's) music is so real, intense, so simple and difficult, just in the sound around the sound. It's a unique and important music." When the music becomes more dense, Golia picks up his A clarinet. Here, the playing takes on a more lyrical character, especially as Leandre begins playing pizzicato lines and Filiano begins bowing. Here, the timbres compliment each other splendidly. Golia and Filiano's playing together certainly reflects the seamless intensity that can come from years of playing as a team. Anticipating this chemistry, Leandre returns to arco and interjects some startling responses to the duo's call. The empathy between Leandre and the other musicians is amazing given that the three only played once before. The piece not only reveals light and hope, but also comes to a restful conclusion.
"None That Are For Hugo" is a duet piece between Golia and Leandre. It is a shamanistic piece whose purpose seems to be to drive out evil-it is pure catharsis. Golia begins with ominous chords with close pitches on his sheng, which is the Chinese equivalent of the Japanese sho, or mouth organ. This sound creates a jarring mood that Leandre matches and helps to build. Here, Leandre strikes the bass demonically and bows to approximate Golia's jumbled pitches. The intensity grows even stronger when Leandre begins to contribute vocal growls, grunts, and groans. To greet, meet, and kindle Leandre's intense flame, Golia then picks up an ocarina and eventually his bass clarinet. Golia is a master (a daring one at that) at playing more than one reed during a piece to appropriately match and even heighten its mood. Throughout this disc, Golia uses this gift to its best advantage.
"The Pot is Broken and the Flower is Gone" is Ken Filiano's solo showcase. This piece is the eye of the storm, a place for calm contemplation and meditation. This piece would not be out of place for such an astute player as Gary Peacock. The piece is modal and very lyrical in an austere sense. Just as Leandre learned about Eastern values from Scelsi and Golia plays many Oriental reeds, Filiano is a devoted follower of Eastern arts, and it shows on this piece. Although Filiano does play some lines here that display his formidable virtuosity, the piece also reflects his penchant for space, color, and timbre. His use of harmonics as an accenting device seems to also be taken from the Japanese stringed instrument tradition. This is a poignant, beautiful piece.
"Dream Commandos" seems to be a journey through the icy netherworld of dark, haunting dreams whose purpose is to help one come to self-realization by sleep and dreams. On this track, Leandre begins striking muted harmonics which is contrasted by Filiano on arco and Golia on bass flute. The use of these instruments certainly accentuates the starkness of the track, especially when Leandre becomes more visceral with her instrument. This piece is brief but very moving, making for a clear, concise statement that sounds very composed.
"Above the Age of Reason" is another piece that is sheer catharsis. This track is a bass duo that shows Leandre and Filiano's command of extended bass technique and the incredible empathy and respect that the musicians have for one another. Both musicians have played composed and improvised music for years, and use their talents accordingly. Both musicians are supportive of one another on a very high plane and the two weave intricate counterpoint even when playing in separate keys. For example, when Filiano begins playing double stops that would not be out of place in a Bach cello suite, Leandre responds with her own stops that wrap around them very naturally and musicially.
"Empty Places Where We Walk" is Vinny Golia's solo showcase. The first part of this piece is a Chinese flute solo that is almost cheerful in its disposition and denotes harmony and reflection. Golia's command of the instrument certainly seems to be the result of some careful study with the flute. Part two, for which Golia switches to his A clarinet, is a continuation of the quieter approaches that were played on the flute, but here, his bold playing rises to a fever pitch. The reflection and contemplation has been replaced with action and realization. Some of Golia's technique here occasionally recalls the work of his long-time friend, the late John Carter, with its trills, unconventional harmonics, and long, contorted lines. Taking out of context a quote from the late painter Paul Klee through saxophonist Evan Parker; Golia knows how to "...take a line for a walk". At the track's end, the peace returns.
"Each One Starts Another" is a treatise that espouses the odd paradox of self-realization and teamwork. This track begins as Golia walks with his bass clarinet (thus taking a function that either bass could have had) as Leandre sings free scat-like vocals and Filiano bows almost humorous lines in the upper registers of his instrument. Eventually, Leandre's arco replaces Golia's bass clarinet as the low instrument, and Filiano bows more furiously. Golia then turns up the heat, growling into the horn and droning with the basses until Leandre adds her own ascetic harmonics. Filiano's relentless rhythms keep the music white hot and well-grounded.
"In keeping with the situation..." denotes affirmation and fond farewells. This piece also closed the session. Here, L6andre plays slashing but subtle harmonics in the upper ranges of her bass, Filiano plays pedal-point drones on his, and Golia plays flutes. To help create an initial placid atmosphere, Golia plays double wooden flutes, but then switches to piccolo before reverting back to the wooden flutes and finally the concert flute. Golia then leads the trio into a variation on the opening theme, which somehow turns very Middle Eastern in sound and mood at the piece's end.
Certainly, the union of this trio has made for some very abstract yet very moving and healing music. To paraphrase Mondrian in the context of this disc, the transcendent character of this music is precisely positive and clear.